Our wonderful neighbours have brought round a warm stack of homemade parathas…
I was told they’re Mrs Y’s special recipe and use three types of flour. They were delicious: as were the unannounced onion bahjis, or the surprise vegetable samosas and even the unexpected complete curry meal. The time we might predict next-door’s edible tidings is at Eid (the end of the Ramadan fast), the bell rings and we open the door to a beautiful smile and a dish of a traditional and celebratory sweet semolina.
These neighbourly offerings are not altruistic deeds of faith or charity – they’re just everyday acts of sharing and kindness. Such gestures, seem out-of-place in an age of self-interest and the individual. You might assume that neighbours would rather disturb us with loud music, grow light-sucking leyandii, or block our shared drives.
But not our neighbours. We are blessed with their consideration and friendliness. And the feeling is mutual. We watch out for each other, keep dialogues open and share local and personal news. We look after each other’s houses, feed each other’s pets and mow each other’s lawns.
Happily for me, this friendliness helps inspire my cooking. Our neighbours share their fruit and veg with us – and I turn them into cooked food. I’ve made R’s roasted tomato sauce and heritage tomato Japanese salad, Mrs Y’s pear tarts, Mr X’s quince frangipane, Mrs T-K’s mebrillo and D & A’s crab apple jelly. We return the favour with our own beans and when I can, cooked dishes and my posted recipes and stories.