There’s not many things that I miss about London; friends obviously, the occasional supericilious pigeon and the yellow light of a vacant taxi at 2 a.m on a blustery morning after a good night out. Like Proust (pretentious, much?), my memories revolve around food: I can still fondly recall a steak pie the size of a toilet bowl at a restaurant in Stoke, enjoyed at the age of 7. And I’m always attempting to recreate what I call ‘1980s Spanish hotel soup’, which was thin and bisto-y, but which I yearn for because it reminds me of the excitement of going on holiday as a kid.
My London food memory comes from a vegetarian restaurant/shop tucked away in Neals Yard. The staff were always sleepy eyed and moved as if suspended in lightly set aspic, but they served the most incredible cheese breads. They were stiff with a black olive crust, but once mascerated, chewy and moist and oily inside. I ate them every time I visited the West end; it became part of my experience, the feeling of owning part of London, of being part of its machinery, essential, loved and looked after. And they only cost a pound!
I spent a long time missing these little beasts of beauty until inspiration struck. I needed to turn to the great God of my living room: Google. Lo and behold there are a million recipes for Brazillian cheesebreads online and if pushed, I would say that mine are as good as the real thing. This is what you need:
Cup and a half of tapioca flour
Third of a cup of milk
Half of a cup of olive oil
As much grated cheese as you can handle (at least a cup’s worth)
Blend all these ingredients, pour it into a buttered muffin tray. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees. Take out and rest. Hop from foot to foot with impatience until they are cool enough to devour.
And never say that I don’t give you anything.