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come · con · ella
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o and i were in barcelona in early december last year and were instantly charmed by its cheerfulness. there was plenty of custard coloured sunshine, a lot to see and even more to eat. here is a round-up of the things that we ate and loved the most. 
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travel and curiosity about food has meant that breakfast has expanded to include new tastes. for instance nut butters are uncommon in pakistan. one can get jars of skippy or sunpat peanut butter but not more than that. in london i always have a jar of cashew and almond butter handy. i love the creamy constitution of cashew butter and the rougher texture of whole almonds. at some point there was a delicate white almond butter that tasted of unsweetened marzipan. s gave me pistachio crema the colour of fresh sicilian pistachios that paired well with greek yoghurt and honey. in the last two years i have made butter from walnuts, sunflower seeds and now hazelnuts, a jar of which will be a new addition to my parents’ breakfast table.
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meet the cookie that tastes as good as its raw dough. the truth is i usually bake so that i can indulge in the raw dough or batter. it almost always tastes better than the baked version. this is not the case with tartine’s salted chocolate-rye cookies. these slightly irregular discs spread a little in the oven and their surface cracks intimating an interior that is dark and fudge like. the pinch of salt on its surface is savoury at first bite and then sweetness floods the mouth.
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the term 'kedgeree' may sound oddly familiar to those of south asian origin. this is because it is etymologically connected to ‘kichari’; a restorative rice and lentil dish with aromatics that have healing and ayurvedic properties. its soothing personality is called upon when one is feeling poorly. i remember eating many a bowlful with a slim mint yoghurt when either my sibling or i had an upset stomach. 

despite the shared nomenclature there is little affinity between the two. kedgeree is associated with breakfast and features rice that has been seasoned with curry powder and has peas and thick flakes of smoked haddock forked through it. it is finished with hard-boiled eggs and chopped parsley. some versions include cream to provide a richer more risotto like finish. my first taste of kedgeree was at e’s when her mama served it to us for lunch at her house in southampton in early 2000. 
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i just wanted to say that although we may have upgraded our brownies and coffee, our friendship is still very much the same, if only better. in our third decade, i hope we see more of each other in person.
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 perhaps m liked cereal more because he was from the generation that did not have to eat fauji cornflakes; the military brand of cereal that was lacklustre and limp at the first introduction of milk. my dadi would eat them with hot milk. m’s particular favourite were coco pops, a talking cereal that crackled like popping candy in milk. the puffed rice grains would relieve themselves of their sugary chocolate coating colouring and flavouring the milk to a nursery like chocolate milk.
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despite its ubiquity, a desi omelette always recalls specific memories. there were summer trips to nathia gali when we stayed at green’s hotel. mama would twist daisy stems to make crowns for my friend r, her sister s and myself. often the clouds would sit low in the valley obscuring vision and leaving dew-like dampness when you walked through them. we would start the day on omelette and paratha along with milky sweet tea. then there were the trips to lahore for my cousins’ weddings. we would stay at n phoopo’s house where breakfast was served in instalments depending on when guests would wake up. the omelette would be accompanied with milk bread from rahat bakery that had been toasted in a frying pan with a little oil. i did not like the slightly sweet and oily texture and would seek out naan from the night before. desi omelette is also a reminder of sehri, the pre-dawn meal during ramazan. in our nazimuddin road house we had a cook called sufi whose omelette making skills were far from satisfactory. i dreaded the sehri’s where he had to resort to making eggs.
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kichari’s soothing qualities are based on easily absorbed nutrition that does not tax the digestive system unduly. both the rice and pulses are soaked at length to make their nutrients readily available. most often the consistency will be soft and wet although mama’s had resilience because none of us can abide by porridge like rice. the scant aromatics added reflect popular ayurvedic healing properties. 
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chicken or yakhni pulao is essentially rice cooked in chicken broth laced with aromatics. in my family it is baba’s cousin n apa whose pulao has legendary status. she would often make a large dekcha of it when family or guests arrived unannounced. i remember visiting her house in lahore as a little girl and most often found her in the kitchen. this was a compact space off an open courtyard. on sunny days her two-frame stove would sit in the courtyard, serviced by a rotund cylinder of gas. n apa also had a low stool on which she would sit when cooking. she would make roti and parathas with such deftness, always in perfect circles. but what i remember most is that when she would slide the flat lid off the dekcha, the air would fill with the smell of chicken broth laced with the subtle floral scent of cardamom and bay leaf. it was a broth based on extracting the essence of the chicken’s bones.
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i love making truffles. the process starts with the slow, sensual surrender of chocolate to hot cream (or sometimes wine) after which comes the addition of flavours – a hint of spice, the familiar comfort of vanilla or something savoury like salt to amplify sweetness. 
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the chronicle of m and o's appetite.
Introduction
come · con · ella came about in i's flat. the one with the bathroom in which the shower didn't really work. how she managed to wash her really long hair under a shower that ran scalding hot or cold with the merest trickle was a little beyond me.

one night, towards the end of our post-graduate degrees at the london school of economics the three of us met there for dinner. i made a risotto and m a chocolate and pear cake. by this point our non-wine drinking italian friend i had been initiated into the wine drinking club and so we had a bottle of white wine too.

food had been a constant in our friendship. much of what we did centred around eating and aside from foods that were familiar to us - italian, french and pakistani, we loved trying new things. in fact whilst most women we know went shopping for clothes and shoes i, m and i would walk through markets and lanes, popping into cafes, bakeries and eateries making mental notes of places that we ate at, places we want to eat at, places that we shouldn't eat at and places we definitely wouldn't eat at.i'm not exactly sure what led us to start writing this blog only. what i do remember is that i christened the blog come con ella which roughly translates as 'eat with her'. it was inspired by her love for all things pedro almodóvar films, in this case the film hable con ella (talk to her). in october twenty o eight the three of us graduated from the london school of economics. although our friendships have continued to grow, our work and lives took us to different places. i moved to uganda in the early part of twenty ten and has now moved to ethiopia where she is working with the international rescue committee. m spent some time working in turkey and is now in france her home country. i got married to o in twenty o nine and remained in london. come con ella as it is a chronicle of mine and o's appetite. and sometimes that of i's.