I DRANK a frothy coffee the other afternoon after a blissful
drive through Warwickshire.
The leafy lanes are still there;
more or less untouched for the thirty odd years I have known them.
off the motorways - and there are some new ones since I first went there - you
will still find John Major's vestal virgins pedalling to Communion through the
morning mist and you really can drink warm beer around the village green.
also find splendid asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli for sale at the roadside.
very same wooden stalls are still there at the same farm gates since I was a cub
reporter on the Evesham Journal and Four Shires Advertiser.
what's with this frothy coffee?
Well, even in Shakespeare
Country, the dreaded Starbucks is putting in an appearance. And Costa, the designer
Café, with ristretto and cappuccino and Americano.
is on the corner of the main shopping square in Stratford upon Avon, a comfort
for students and a blessing for anyone who thinks this Bond Street of a town simply
costs too much. I liked the mug so much, I bought it.
man in charge of the froth told me an American tourist had walked around the town
for four hours and then asked: "Where IS Stratford?"
in John Cleese fashion that that WAS Stratford, he exclaimed "But we have
shopping malls bigger than this."
Later he casually
asked which was the best way to Portugal.
that are due soon keep emailing, asking if the water is safe to drink yet, or
whether there are any roads open because of the hoof and mouth plague.
from the signs, there's no way of knowing anything is up.
anyway I got the asparagus home.
Six giant stems, each
as thick as my thumb and almost a foot long, cost a little under £3 (say
700pesetas). It's not as bitter as the asparagus you find growing wild all over
Ibiza in the New Year and it's not intended to be chopped up before it's eaten
The last inch was cut off and a potato peeler run
down the three inches before that.
They went flat, cheek
by jowl, into a deep pan ("as used by Delia Smith") which contained
a pint of gently bubbling water. You could hear them whispering to each other
as they jockeyed for position.
These spears were never
destined for an omelette, but to be gently drained and lain across a white plate.
yellow Guernsey butter left to melt atop their faces and a scrape or two of black
pepper and they were done.
You eat them as if you were
taking part in an orgy worthy of As You Like It.
asparagus that is the food of love, not the background music.
Never mind the froth, you make your own coffee
however you like and drink it from your own Costa mug, of course.
you can dream of Warwickshire.