So I figured I'd do my own personal challenge for June, but by and large, I wanted to keep things pretty challenge-free. Plus, I had the feeling that the Bean twins would be preparing these ridiculously amazing 12-course meals, and I'd be showing up to One Local Summer all, "I ate a salad."
Of course, then when it was too late I had a brain wave for One Local Summer, and while I think it's too late to join the challenge officially, this idea is too good to pass up. So, I decided I'm going to unofficially play along from time to time on this here blog.
See, when I was a child, I was a total bookworm. I read everything under the sun, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, you name it. But my absolute favorite author in the whole world, was none other than Enid Blyton.
I suspect at this point, CAE, Beany, and Pink Dogwood are nodding along, and the rest of you are looking at me all, "Huh?" Well, I am sorry, Americans. You led deprived childhoods. Because there are a few things the Brits do way better than anyone else in the world, and children's fiction is one of those things. While she lacks fame in the States, Enid Blyton is beloved worldwide, and her stories have inspired hundreds of thousands of readers, including, most famously JK Rowling. (Anyone else notice the many similarities between Mallory Towers and Hogwarts?)
Because Enid Blyton's books aren't readily available in the United States, reading a new book of hers always felt like a special and momentous occasion. Every time we traveled to India, we would have to make a stop at the bookstore right away so I could load up on Mallory Towers, Five Find-Outers, and Famous Five books. I'd hug my books to my chest, eagerly anticipating the moment when I would crack the spines open. As soon as we arrived home, I'd take my books, curl up on the divan, and be lost to the world until dinner, where I'd try to continue reading until someone yelled at me.
One of the most iconic attributes of any Enid Blyton book are the numerous passages detailing the meals the children eat. And, oh, man, did that food sound amazing! I was a little Indian-American girl, and I had never eaten nor seen most of this food, but I had visions in my head of what this heavenly food must taste like. Scones I imagined to be cone shaped pastries laced with honey. Macaroons must be syrupy sticky macaroni noodles, sort of half-pasta, half-Jalebi. Pudding I understood as we had that in the States, though I admit steak and kidney pudding confused the hell out of me. Chocolate sponges obviously looked like sponges and tasted of chocolate. And tinned sardines and kippers were utterly foreign, but I assumed that they must taste salty and wonderful, rather like beef jerky.
And then there was all the food that I did understand properly, toast oozing with butter, cucumber sandwiches, hunks of cheese and freshly baked bread, ripe fruit of all kinds, and newly laid eggs.
The books would always make me so hungry, that I would have to go to the kitchen and ask for some toast. Then I would sit, and continue to read, scattering crumbs here and there through the pages.
Anyway, back to One Local Summer. I've been complaining a lot about how cooking takes all this time, and I don't have the time, and so then I end up eating strawberries for dinner or something similarly sad, and that local eating is haaaaard! But then a few days ago, I had a brainstorm. Why not use Enid Blyton's novels as inspiration for One Local Summer?
See, the primary reason why the meals were so appealing, is that the children were always stopping at local farmhouses and buying newly made butter or recently picked corn. Everything was always fresh and extremely local. But the meals itself, aside from the baked goods like the macaroons and scones, were often pretty simple (because the children did a lot of picnicking and camping.) Even I can put together a meal of cucumber sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, ripe berries, and tea.
So here's my Enid Blyton-inspired local meal of the week:
Grilled whole-wheat bread with ripe red tomatoes and luscious goat brie cheese. Boiled corn on the cob dressed Indian style with lemon and mirch. One entire cucumber, a juicy apricot and a bowl of succulent blackberries. Prepared in under 10 minutes, and yet, as the Famous Five would say, absolutely "gorgeous!"