Between conference calls with India today, I ran out in to the rain to the covered market to gather supplies for the dinner I had offered to cook for my vegetarian landlords.
They have a fecund garden and had encouraged me not to purchase any vegetation. I could just use whatever was harvestable that day: tomatoes and carrots and courgettes and leeks. Also a pantry stocked with many varieties of rice and lentils and beans. There was a bag of Portuguese short grain rice that caught my attention. I found a recipe for vegetarian paella online, so figured there was a precedent.
My shopping list was simple: bread, cheese, dark chocolate, wine.
I visited the baker, but by the time I arrived she was sold out of “French sticks” and I had a hard time imagining what I could possibly do with a “country loaf.”
I visited the Oxford Cheese Company, and had a wonderful chat with the monger, tested their award winning blue and fresh goat, and assembled a perfectly respectable cheese course.
I didn’t find any dark chocolate until I found myself at the till of the University general store buying my flouride free toothpaste.
Still no wine, though. Not a vintner or package store to be found. I’m told it’s strange to even think an “off-licence” would be in the centre of town.
By the closing of the day, I was a bit distraught that I had been unable procure any bread or wine for my great meal of thanksgiving.
In the early evening driving rain, I walked past my regular bus stop to the “cute” Little Clarendon Street where I had reason to believe an off-license was in business. And, indeed I found in Odd Bins a Beaujolais and a Burgundy to complement my dinner plans.
Still no bread though. Carr’s water crackers would eventually be offered up from the pantry of the English couple who are friends with the English couple I’ve never met but in whose French home I spent a month.
I had to work hard for that bread and wine and wasn’t sure, even up until the very last minute, that we would have any, and that’s why it was good.