Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Supper recipe - Oyster mushroom bruschetta

When I first moved to the UK I was amazed at the severity of the class system. I had heard my parents speak about it and seen Ken Loach and Mike Leigh films alluding to it, but seeing it in every day life and the way it subtly manifested itself in every nuance of society was quite amazing. Perhaps this was so apparent to me because of the discrepancy between where I lived, working class and mostly black Brixton and where I worked, a film company staffed by Oxbridge educated, upper class white people.

I loved Brixton and its street colour and funky vibe but I also fell in love with my colleagues at the film company, who were gentle and sweet and had the loveliest manners I had ever encountered. There was one word that my colleagues used that set them apart from the other Britons I knew, which was 'supper'. These people didn't have dinner, or tea as we said back home in Queensland, they had 'supper'. My boss would put his head round his office door and say in his gravelly, soft voice "Juliette, could you please book me in at Chez Gerard for supper tonight" and I was always thrilled to hear it, perhaps because through linguistics he was conferring on me the same status as my colleagues. (I was equally thrilled in Brixton when the Jamaican boys at the end of my street spoke to me in patois - this was more about fitting in than wanting to be upper class.)

There was also a nostalgic thrill associated with this word as it took me back to a childhood of books by Enid Blyton and E. Nesbit graduating in adulthood to PG Wodehouse, Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh. And there was the swathe of UK TV shows so loved by ABC TV in the 1970s and '80s, All Creatures Great and Small, Brideshead Revisited and the endless remakes of Bronte sisters and Jane Austen novels so beloved by Australian audiences.

I always had my own definition of supper, which is a light meal taken at the end of the evening, perhaps to stave off hunger during the night. It's something I might have after an evening out which involved early dinner then some entertainment - a movie or a show - which usually involves some alcohol consumption. In my younger days, when alcohol consumption was the entertainment, supper was a takeaway kebab. These days, alcohol consumption much lowered, I'm happy to go home and cook up something light and easy before bed. A bit of grease is good and comfort is definitely needed.

Here is my favourite supper dish. Not hard to make, tasty with just the right amount of grease and carbs to soak up any extra booze in your system.

Oyster mushroom bruschetta
(per person)

1 packet oyster mushrooms (approx. 50g)
1 red chilli, finely chopped or a pinch of chilli flakes
1 large clove garlic,
1 slice of sourdough bread
olive oil
fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Brush sourdough with olive oil and grill until light brown. Be vigilant - burning this is very easy!!
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frypan. Add garlic and chilli and cook until it exudes a strong aroma.
Add mushrooms. Fry, shaking the pan quite often, until mushrooms are wilted and edges browned.
Place mushroom mixture on toast. Top with fresh parsley and a splash of olive oil.

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