Cooking a birthday meal for my partner yesterday – cod steaks cooked with romano and chilli peppers – I’m enjoying this cooking, shame it’s taken me a few decades to realise it. And there’s another side to it I like. You occupy your mind when cooking – by thinking, by singing, by listening to the radio. I don’t like voices or music when I’m reading or desk-working or writing. But cooking – the radio’s a great companion. I could be revisiting hits from the 1960s. Or listening to the news or (God help me) phone-ins on topical subjects – legalising drugs or street cleaning or whatever exciting topics they dream up. Brexit! No – not Brexit!
So last night – what was on the radio? A Radio 3 feature in the Venetian ghetto – its origins, its role as a magnet for Jews from Spain after they were expelled in 1492, its remarkable musical and literary culture. I’m fascinated by Venice, and by Jewish history, so here was a perfect case of serendipity. And it took me back to walking the Camino, and that sense I had of a remarkable medieval culture, when Moor and Christian and Jew lived in creative tension cheek by jowl.
So there you have it – cod steaks, Venice, the ghetto, Spain. I need life to be a little like that. When the small things come together in ways you don’t expect, and – put simply – make you happy.
The only problem, for Hazel, she had to listen to me explain as we sat down to eat why a radio programme on the Venetian ghetto was special. She smiled, patiently.