Tuesday 30 June 2009

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music, Ad Infinitum...

I have already stated before how nuts I am about nuts. But I am also crazy about seeds. And what I really love doing is getting them all together on a pan and roasting them slowly.

So, this is a post about roasted nuts and seeds at which point I should also add the following warning: This post contains nuts. Nuts may trigger off allergies of which you are unaware, so, please, check with your GP before reading this column.

My love affair with this snack started recently after a trip to Spain four years ago. My brother-in-law's girlfriend served us roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds as a nibble and they were so yummy that I bought some after when we went to Órgiva, the nearby town. Back in the UK I began to experiment with Brazil nuts, cashew nuts and almonds. The results were great and a bond was formed.

Everyday after lunch I have a small plate of roasted nuts and seeds which I have prepared the night before and put in the fridge. They are a delicious dessert after my sandwich and bowl of fresh fruit. I do sprinkle some sugar on top when I am cooking them, but that's the Cuban in me, I like my nuts to be sweet... Oh dear, I just read that last sentence again and... all right, never you mind, I like my nuts to be sweet, yes.

Nuts and Seeds

A handful of the following:

Brazil nuts
Peanuts (I buy the redskin variety)
Cashew Nuts
Pecan nuts

Pumpkin seeds
Hemp seeds
Sunflower seeds
Sugar (a teaspoonful), this is optional and to be honest with you, not necessary. When I roast nuts and seeds at home, I have to be quick if I want to sprinkle some sugar on top because both my wife and I are very strict with our children's sugar consumption, therefore the last thing I need is one of them walking in on me and catching me red-handed. Yes, parental hypocrisy, who doesn't suffer from it? And did I mention the dollop of chocolate spread that I sometimes mix with the nuts and seeds and that I then justify to the children that it is nothing but the Brazil nuts getting a bit too burned? And how about the tiny, teeny... OK, the two scoops of Vanilla ice-cream I occasionally put in? Anyway, it's up to you.

You might think that roasting nuts and seeds is an easy task but my first few attempts met with failure. The results were quite, how to put it, charred instead of the sun-kissed colour I was expecting. And herein I would also like to mention what to me is a fundamental ingredient in the kitchen: patience. Slow cooking is my motto. In fact I was keen to start a food revolution called 'slowism' until someone told me that they had a similar movement in the States. Thieves, it was my idea! I was just too slow to patent it.

My cooker is electric which means it has numbers 1-8, with 1 representing low fire and 8 the temperature at which you usually boil water. So, I put my nuts and seeds to roast at mark 4, then take it down a couple of notches, toss them about the pan a little bit and then ratchet it up to 4 again until they are done.

Since I am posting this in summertime, even though this is a recipe for all seasons, the music that comes to mind is one that has a slow groove, that builds progressively towards a crescendo, or that stays steadily imperturbable within the parametres of its own tempo.

And so we turn our attention to an artist who, long before she tried to become Mama Africa and adopt every single child on that continent, was a very good performer indeed and made brilliant catchy pop tunes. Madonna has always been a package and this video, with its funky bassline and beautiful black and white photography, is evidence of her genius. And as I see those nuts and seeds mixing promiscously on my pan I can't help but think of singing out to them: 'Things haven't been the same/Since you came into my life/You found a way to touch my soul/And I'm never ever ever gonna let it go'.

The second tune is by a composer whose work I revere but who polarises music lovers down the very middle. Phillip Glass deserves his own post and I will make sure he gets one in due course, however in the meantime I would like to offer this piece to you, my dear fellow bloggers, readers and followers. In the same way that under the placid surface of the nuts and seeds I roast on my pan a turmoil seethes, this music reminds me of the old saying: still waters run deep. And that's actually the name of one of my homemade CD collections: Still Waters. And this tune is included. At 2:24 all I can think of is those peanuts popping all over the pan, they do pop loudly, don't they? Enjoy.

It seems to me that inadvertently I have turned my blog lately into a shrine dedicated to Bach and the truth is that there's another future post related to the famous composer coming up very soon. But when I was writing recently my post about Bach for the Killer Opening Songs section, I had his 'Violin Concertos' on in the background and then this particular movement came on and I had to listen to it twice more. For some reason in these two violins I could visualise the union of a hemp seed and a Brazil nut, or an almond and a sunflower seed. Wacky, maybe, but surely it's tasty. What really bowled me over was the tempo swings from 3:32 onwards. Amazing.

Copyright 2009

Next Post: 'Living in a Bilingual World', to be published on 2nd July at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. I share your passion for nuts and seeds. Your recipe sounds like a snack too good to miss - but just for a moment there I thought you were classifying Madonna as a nut! My mistake. Yoy are exonerated.

  2. I must get into the habit of checking more carefully. Apologies.

  3. he desayunado demasiado pronto, no puedo ver fotos de comida... hasta los frutos secos me dan hambre...

  4. Interesting way of combining food and music.

    For some reason I've never been a big fan of nuts but roasting them sounds interesting... I'll replace sugar with honey though, if I may.

    I adore this violin concerto! And I really like Nigel because a. he's wacky b. he spends a lot of time in my home town Krakow which accounts for his very good tastes not only in music...

  5. Many thanks for your kind comments. Dave, hmmm... for some reason that thought never occurred to me :-). Madonna=nuts.

    Polly, Nigel is wacky, yes and he brings a much needed alternative approach to the classical music world.

    Greetings from London.

  6. Cuban now this is what I call a fantastic post. It has everything in it.

    I was laughing, smiling, nodding my head and you have made me hungry for nuts (sweet nuts at that).

    I like sweet nuts too. har har.

    Love you.

    Renee xoxo

  7. One of my favorite snacks. I add cayenne and real maple syrup in lieu of sugar. Spicy sweet. Mmmm.

  8. I'm nutty about nuts, too, and keep a large glass canister of mixed nuts on my kitchen counter for easy snacking.

    I recently saw an excellent documentary on Philip Glass. He's amazing.

    (your mention of sweet nuts made me laugh out loud this morning) :D

  9. "If music be the food of love, then play on . . ."

    Love, music, food -- it all gets mixed up here! Oh, and I love nuts and seeds, too. I will have to try your roasting method.

  10. Musical diversity, oh my! This Bach complimented my breakfast delightfully.

    I'm such a Bach fan, you could post on him every day and I wouldn't mind. Mozart, Chopin and Mendelssohn were big fans of his too-perhaps you want to look for the nods they give to Bach in many of their works. I'm not sure Madonna is nodding to any musician in a genius sort of way; and I look forward to your post on Mr. Glass!

  11. Ah yes, patience. It's a genetic deficiency for Cubans, no? More than one tray of charred nuts has been sent flying out our kitchen window--followed by expletives in multiple languages. Not even the squirrels will touch them. I love all nuts except peanuts. As a young child, recently arrived in the US, all alone in an American hospital, with no English language skills, I was fed a PB&J sandwhich. I thought it was one of the most vile things I'd ever tasted in my short life, and I was convinced it wasn't Castro who was trying to hurt me but the American nurses who were tring to kill me. The music was marvelous.

  12. Hi Cuba
    Nuts are tasty morsels, but so is your blog. I've noticed your comments on Dave King's blog and I shall pop by and enjoy your fare again soon

  13. Yes, yes, sweet nuts. of course. I'd like to make you aware that I was just holding you up as a good example of a sensible scorpio to my wayward scorpian husband and then you go and shovel sugar on top of the nuts. And chococlate. You are a very bad influence Cubano.

  14. Oh, delicious - I love nuts! Sweet or savory! Your recipe sounds wonderful (ice cream included) and I'll have to try it soon!!! Oh, yes, and the chocolate...:) Silke

  15. You are talking the real thing with your recipe this time, CiL. Although the individual ingredients might disappear before having the opportunity to meet one another should they appear in my house.

    The past few years, not just with nuts, but with all foods, I have taken to placing only one item at a time in my mouth. Little, if any mixing. I want to taste and to judge each for what it, itself is, for some indefinable reason.

    I have to confess, I passed by Madonna, but your other two numbers were the learning experience I have grown accustomed to discovering on your page. Loved them both.

    And, speaking of love, I think your new dancers were speaking it directly to me. Beautiful. Wondeful. Lovely.

  16. ACIL, wow – you brought some color into my grey day with your new template. I like nuts and seed for snacks too and will try out your recipe. Your notes made me laugh. I’m one to burn things – I’m so easily distracted. I’m more in my head than in the kitchen.

    Bee, I like the Shakespeare. 12th Night? Perfect quotation.

    Curmudgeon, I didn’t know you were Cuban. My English husband thinks peanut butter is disgusting too. Our kids like it. So much of culture is taste. I feel for you as a child - how scary that transition must have been.

  17. Me llevo un paquetico de nuts para el trabajo y los como a diario, tienen la virtud de enganar mi hambre y de mantener en cero mi barriga. Un verdadero regalo. -Estamos en talla- ;)

    Ah, esa canción de madonna tiene una calidez que me recuerda lejana-mente a los Beatles. Igual cuando tarareo la melodía me siento como si viniera de vuelta... como si hubiese escampado "ahora mismo".

    saludon, tony.

  18. I don't think "slowism" has been coined yet; it's yours to promote! We call it the "Slow Food Movement", but I like "slowism" better; it sounds like a religion.

    Please put me down in the plus column for the Phillip Glass piece. I see what you mean about the peanuts popping at 2:24. I have a recipe that requires roasting slivered almonds and sesame seeds with sesame oil. The sesame seeds hop around the pan like they are in a flea circus.

  19. That sounds delicious, do I dare try to roast? I, who cannot even boil water? I better leave it to my husband. Thanks for sharing and including Madonna, I have always loved her.

  20. nicely worded comment

    if it means anything:
    sunflower seeds

    they're great

    plus, I've never heard of slowism before, haha, and I'm in the States...but who know?

    anyways, the music was good
    I'm not too familiar with Madonna, but it wasn't too bad

    and of course the piano and violins were great though I prefer the piano. a softer sound, a little more

  21. Hi Cuban, maybe it's high time to buy the best of Diana :-) I will be back to here your music, I often do it, and also would like to try one of your recipes, I remember the one chocolatte cake, my favorite of all, and this is what I prepare one day :-) Thank you! Bye, bye.

  22. Maria, ya me apunto como el primero.

    Diva, I've got some maple syrup at home, I tell you, I am a fan. That brings out the Canadian in me :-D. No, of course, I'm not ;-)!

    Willow, same here. My little jar sits near the window, I hope I never leave it open, though, there are squirrels around.

    Oh, yes, Bee, the great Shakespeare! Rock on!

    Curmudgeon, I love PB and I smear chocolate all over it. I think it is like marmite here, either you love it or you hate it.

    Fly Girl, I succumb to tempations too easily. You should know that, it's one of our Scorpio's traits :-).

    Fram, those two dancers are from a show called Havana Rakatan. Unfortunately I have yet to see it despite performing to a fll house here in London. It goes to show, I am a bad Cuban, by means of compensating I have added their photo to my blog.

    Asere, esa cancion es una de mis preferidas y me cuadra todavia la onda vieja de ella, sobre los temas nuevos y su empenno en adoptar a cuanto huerfanito africano se encuentre, no le descargo.

    Then, dutch, I will be down the Copyrights Association in a flash :-). I love Philp's music, just like I love Michael Nyman's, another composer in a similar vein.

    Yoli, c'mon, take the plunge!

    Rafe, not familiar with Madge? Boy, this is the lady who re-invented pop :-).

    Greetings from London.

  23. Sugar on nuts? Of course..who can turn away from..Pecan Pie..Honeyed Walnuts??..
    Your nut ceremony is contemplative, like the Tea ceremony... the daily ritual perhaps brings order to our lives.
    Recently listened to Glass' "Light". Hypnotic! Thank you for this very original post!!

  24. This just shows I have a bad case of forgetfulness. I step away for a sec and come back to realize I did not comment. Urgh! I have to say I like this post probably best of all of yours. Sweet nuts? Ha! Funny! I like mine sweet too. More like the German roasted ones though. Makes me really have a craving for them now! Have a great day!

  25. We share our love for nuts. I need to say nuts and music together are even more irresitable!

  26. i'm a huge fan of nuts and seeds too, and while i prefer them raw, roasted is great. i've never tried to roast my own really but must do so.

    can play the tunes from my slow connection, but i do want to check out the phillip glass piece (especially) when i can to see what you mean.

    great combo of music and food!

  27. Many thanks for your kind words.

    Greetings from London.

  28. Macadamia nuts are my passion. And nuts are great for jazzing up mudane veggie dishes, too - like toasted slithered almonds and anchovies with broccoli, toasted pine nuts with fine beans...the list goes on.

    Your mixture sounds heavenly, Mr Cuban. I hadn't thought to make a roasted nut combo sweet - I usually add lashing of chilli. A dollop of Nutella would be ambrosial...yum!

    The music accompaniments you've chosen to assist the roasting procedure are spot on - as always! Nigel Kennedy is a favourite of mine - probably because when my daughter (who works in Classical Music TV) met him he told her she had the 'eyes of an angel' Enough to make any mother swoon with delight, wouldn't you agree?

  29. The music was perfect for my pre-bedtime relaxation. What synchronicity I have tonight to read your post while having a small plate of roasted walnut pieces with semi-sweet chocolate pieces.

  30. Oh, yes, Tessa, I have tried macademia nuts before and I love them. They don't normally come with the mixed nuts package I get from the supermarket, though.

    Barbara, that second clip is great for a meditative, relaxing state.

    Many thanks for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

  31. The Philip Glass pieces was absolutely stellar!

    I'm here at home, getting caught up on all of my computer/internet related items...my husband is enjoying some video game playing across the room. I read your article and then I played this piece...everything in the room took a breath and came to a halt...I stopped...he stopped and we just listened and he asked "What is this? It is beautiful!" I concur...thank you for adding a pause and delight to our Sunday afternoon!

    And...re: nuts and seeds...we are fans as well...eating them by the handfuls on a regular basis!! I'm going to try your mix--no doubt it will be a hit!

    Happy Sunday!

  32. Many thanks, Tracy. Have a nice week.

    Greetings from London.



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