I had passed the morning in the office, feigning work but, in reality, exchanging recipe ideas and generally hymning the praises of chorizo with Aoife @icanhascook and Kristin @edibleireland. At one point, I even confessed to being Half Man/Half Chorizo.
Now, there may be a certain uncouth element out there who immediately imagine I was implying something of an overly bawdy nature. Not a bit of it. In fact, as I later reflected in greater depth on this acknowledgement of my semi-porcine condition, the worst kind of realisation, a Dread Realisation, was visited upon me: that part of me, bright red-orange pork, spotted with great off-white globules of glistening fat, so appallingly, seductively toothsome, lay sunken, deep in the lefthand side of my chest! Oh what piggy hell was this? Had my very heart transmogrified over the years into a giant chorizo.
Nausea swept through me in relentless waves. Knees buckling, a single bead of sweat ran its salty course down to arid lips. Fingers fumbled in futile grasping at the buttons of my shirt til I simply ripped the thing open.
Oh, Sweet Christ’s Pyjamas! Protruding from my (bronzed-from-the-relentless-Irish-sun/taut-as-a-bowstring-from-savage-daily-workouts/not-remotely-manboobish-not-even-slightly) chest was three inches of alternately green and red string, a piece of wire at the end, the precise type of string used to hang chorizos during curing. I screamed (manfully, I must add).
Dumb with horror, disbelief. Too terrified to touch it yet equally gripped by an insane urge to rip the damned thing clean out and to hell with the consequences. I caught it gingerly betwixt forefinger and thumb, swallowed deep, gave the merest hint of a tug. Nothing. I pulled ever so slightly harder. Nothing. Breath now coming in short urgent pants, muttering a fevered prayer, I yanked with all my might. It is the last thing I remember as I collapsed to the floor.
I was immediately airlifted to hospital to be met by a surgeon, The Leading Man In His Field (TLMIHF), he and his team, every man-jack of them, smacking their lips as the heady aroma of frying spicy pigmeat filled the emergency room. It took TLMIHF seconds to reach a diagnosis: ‘Extreme Hypochondria, one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen!’ he said.
‘But what can we do for him, Sir? Is it too late?’ simpered a nurse, adjusting the seam on her nylons, sucking greedily on an onyx cigarette holder, all the while checking her rouge in the shimmering reflection of my manically rolling yet still impossibly clear eyes.
TLMIHF barked: ‘Only one thing can save him now. Salad! I need Cucumber! Tomatoes! Chickpeas! Capers!’ ‘Is that it?’ asked a junior doctor. ‘No,’ snapped TLMIHF, ‘get me Tuna, a TIN of tuna!’ The assembled acolytes gasped, ‘Tuna? A TIN of tuna?’ ‘Why not go for leeches altogether,’ sneered the junior doctor, under his breath. TLMIHF’s glare was instant, icy, withering. The junior doctor turned deathly pale and began to tremble uncontrollably.
‘One more thing,’ hissed the TLMIHF, ‘bring me some sweet and oh-so-crunchy RED CABBAGE.’ Outside, in the waiting room, the assembled throngs of children and womenfolk began to howl inconsolably.
Antidote Salad of Red Cabbage, Chickpeas & Tuna Dressing
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained. (There is no comparison between tinned chickpeas and those soaked and cooked at home but I love chickpeas so much, this is one of my few concessions to processed food.)
Red Cabbage, quartered and then, one of those quarters halved. Mathematicians among you may prefer to employ the technical term, ‘one-eighth’.
10 cherry tomatoes (out of season, I know, but a treat more beloved than sweets by my two youngest so I guiltily grab a bag from Organic Republic at Mahon Point Farmers Mkt on a Thurs or Douglas Farmers Mkt on a Sat)
½ cucumber (ditto: guilt; Organic Republic; better for bairns than sugar; etc)
1 tin tuna (tinned tuna bears so little relation to fresh tuna – especially truly fresh, travelling from net to plate without a layover in some freezer —that they may be considered entirely different species. Marcella Hazan has many a recipe which opts for tinned tuna over fresh but always stresses tuna in olive oil – anything else is worthless muck. With my beloved Marcella as star witness, I rest the case for the defence.)
30ml good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Tsp freshly ground black pepper
Juice of ¼ lemon
10-20 Capers, depending on size, rinsed in cold water, dried with paper towel
Slice red cabbage thinly
Peel cucumber and slice into cubes, 1cm sq aprox
Quarter the tomatoes, slicing down through the top
Rinse and drain chickpeas
Place all above together in a large bowl
Drain tinned tuna of any ‘travelling’ liquid and place in food processor. Add olive oil, capers and pepper. Blitz to a runny paste but don’t overdo it, leave a little texture, a little ‘bite’ to the tuna.
Season with salt to taste (remember, capers, though rinsed will still be salty. Taste first, then season!)
Mix in gently to chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes and cabbage ensuring all get a right good coating.
Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and some parsley.
(Naturally, the portion size in the photograph bears no relation whatsoever to the actual portion size favoured by The Swashbuachaill but then The Swashbuachaill is a man of exceedingly generous appetites.) (Furthermore, little lardons of fried chorizo would obviously be quite delicious in this dish. Deliciously fatal to this patient, however, who has sworn off chorizo until sometime late next week. Quite possibly as late as the day after tomorrow.)