Before we begin, it is necessary to set down the searingly important, mind-bogglingly-wonderful, most game-changingly amazing thing to have occurred over these 13 years of blessed migrant slumming.
You can get tamarillos in London, and not just at The Providores in a smoothie that costs £25! Here is the proof:
It’s been about 13 years since I wrapped my ageing lips around a massive bursting red fragrant tamarillo. When we first got them, we were misty-eyed and moved, and put them all together on a Portuguese teal plate for obvious colour-popping purposes, and then we put the plate into our room to keep the children away from them. We love our children and all that, but not enough to let them try a tamarillo. And our room! If you closed your eyes, you could imagine you were in some sort of photogenic New Zealand summer/beachhouse/orchard-type situation, because a plate of tamarillos on a chipped plate in a tiny basement bedroom (which is full of never-played guitars and bank statements in files dating from 2006 and massive haunted brown furniture and dirty balled up school socks sharing space under the bed with nests of hairy tumbleweed from the dog: and all those things have a fragrance of a kind, you know) gives out a delicate yet steady perfume of sweet tangy ripe tomatoey/passionfruity/melony goodness. And masks the dank horror for a moment.
But then we ate them. Mark is a saver of delicious things, in that kind of way where his easter eggs are still around a year later with that worrying-looking bloom all over them, and I could see his precious share of the tamarillos started to hang around a little longer than was probably advisable, with a tiny bit of wizenedness occurring around the edges. So I helped him finish them off, one at a time. He didn’t seem to mind. And now the bedroom smells like melancholy again.
TAMARILLO: THE DETAILS
Our neighbour, the mysterious John from Taranaki, spends a lot of time in Church Street Market up by Edgeware Road tube because he looks after a very old Israeli muslim retired judge, and he kindly buys stuff for the old guy from the market because it is full of middle eastern stalls and cafes and little shops full of spices and tahini. And one day a few weeks ago, he comes across a stall with a box of tamarillos, and NO ONE KNEW WHAT THEY WERE! And so no one bought them! But John, keen of eye and nose and swift in the purchase, flooded with childhood memories of tamarillo jams and tamarillo trees and stained fingers and sour juices and scabbing mosquito bites, bought the lot, which seem to have been reduced to clear. He went back a day later to ask about buying some more and the stall guy said it would never happen again, because they wouldn’t shift.
LIKE A SHARP PARING KNIFE TO MY TAMARILLO-HUED HEART!
They were South American tamarillos, and if I am entirely honest, they were slightly too pasty-textured near the skin. But oh my. It’s almost enough for me to haul all the children and the dog and my handbags back to New Zealand on a container ship just to eat one fresh off a tree.
IN THE MEANTIME, THOUGH
Before anyone gets carried away, here’s a small clip of Otis on his second birthday. I made a cake which was accidentally infused with cumin, because we bought half a kilo of it in Turkey and it has laced everything in the cupboard. Don’t have sugar in your tea at my place, unless you like it tasting like a taco. But look at that face!
And, because I have finally got videos to work, here is a brilliant little movie of my mum and dad at the Notting Hill Carnival, kind of sick of the pounding beats that are so loud you feel them in your gut rather than hear them. But they decided to dance for me anyway. And what moves!
And some photos of the children, before the Autumn came in and forced us to put away our shorts and t-shirts back into the storage, after a period of about seven weeks. (By storage, I mean overflowing IKEA bags shoved on top of wardrobes, under beds, in cupboards, etc.)
Casper in full armour at the Wallace Collection:
Cute baby before his wispy girl-hair was shorn into a wonky bowl cut at the barbers:
And chocolate and churros on a rainy Sunday at the Spanish cafe, outside the barbers where the shearing takes place, because sometimes it is the only thing a bunch of post-holidayed people can do:
Anyway, it is drizzling outside and I have a cold that is turning me into a whinging baby. And school is back, which is partly good (actually some free time during the day to do stuff like replace the missing sink plug and wash some clothes) and bad (we have to set the alarm for 6:30am and shout a lot, and also homework) while the flat multiplies before my very eyes strewn uriney-pyjama bottoms and broken bits of Kinder Surprises like Tribbles and I have to live with the fact that we won’t go anywhere sunny for about a year. But, dear reader, there is always the memory of our plate of surprising South American tamarillos to keep my head well out of the oven.