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Chefs Cream of Potage soup (Also known as Pearl Barley and Cornish Nettle yarg soup) As featured in,

Cornish Gazette 2012http://www.thecornishgazette.com/edition7/rickoliver.htm

What is quiet a common and occupying natural feature around Trafalgar square in London, is shoals of East Asian tourists, emerging out of the London Undergrounds and even without minding the Gap between their photo chromatic sunglasses and Leica lenses, just getting into a rhythm of clicking pictures of an English Pub. Yes, all roads lead to the pub, to the pub! Rather fascinating fact about English pub nomenclature is that the more urbane they are, the more bizarre they sound. Hand and Pump, Line and Clean,Pee and Nuts, Jack and Pots are rather more contemporary ones, giving space to George and Dragon, King and Prawn, The Bloated Mallard and Wig and Pen. Invariably all pubs, have their own limitations no matter what is the brand of the kit they possess, they can seldom produce a good cup of tea (or coffee! dont even go there)Call it imperfection or a latent art form in general, there is always something genuinely wrong with the posh cup of earl grey you ordered or there is way too much froth frothing around on top of your baby chino chino!(cleverly enough when the Italians have to mock something they just call it Zuppa inglese or a caf Americano) Tell you what though; one good thing all English pubs are good at is creating an underlying brand awareness loyalty. Walk into an Irish pub(voluntarily)in any part of the world be it Miami Florida or Galloway Irreeeland,they smell ,look and feel as dingy and rustically imperfectly inviting as any drinking hole in the dormitories of a sorority in Kings college Vietnam.(Named after the famous movie King and I)Foreign parasitic fast food and drinks chains have to really work their acts off to create a sense of longing for their big artery clogging archways and constant adrenaline pumping caffeine kicks. Our quaint little pubs on the other hand have much less to worry about! Spill an occasional accidental pint of amber liquor onto the archaeologically ageing carpet, hang a few packets of salt saturated crisps, open a jar of pee nuts and pretend to host a local band that also hosts free karaoke(who doesnt love to vent their frustrations in front of an open

microphone in a democracy!)in between the mini bingo breaks and mindless conversations of a rather meaningless social kind of little threat to national security. Pub landlords are rather planet friendly when it comes to concealed lighting, as they tend to forget to provide any adequate ones for the misguided public punters hooked to the atmosphere. Fair enough if there is a fly in your pie, or the potted crab is a mere pot of shredded blanched seaweed soaked in ultrafine meadow butter, it all passes down as good old pub grub, with a bit of pickled eggs on the side. A rather clever chain of upcountry pubs that pours down gallons of near to death barrels of imported liquor down our rather imberiated guts, has got a rather special formulae of naming its properties after Cornish institutions of ancient heritage and glory!(Thats what I call is Old wine in card board bottle!) As far as my fond knowledge of British pub food goes (Based loosely upon anecdotes of Alexis Soyer and one Mrs. Fanny Haddock) they have always been a bit Gastro since time immemorable.Long before we realized that Haddock and Cod were easy protein supplements and once coated in batter provided the essential Omega 3 and beer at the same time (simultaneously!)we were hooked onto more food mockery/camouflage in the form of lovely monkfish tails dressed up as Scampi, until the poor oceans ran out of steam in producing the ugly beasts of the depths. Londoners had it right, for a period of time when they embarked upon boat rides, fished their own Whitebaits and Fry (Not to be confused with the etonian gibberish kind possessing a rather fumbling accent)and had a feast on something that was infamously called Whitebait suppers. Little did they know that urbanization would slowly lead to more and more sewers leaking into the placid waters of Thames, driving the crap out of the breeding fish. A rather more consistent pub food trend that emerged and was to stay from the Ye olde Tavern days was the habit of eating a Comfort Pie which of course is a subject of longer review and rebuke for some other good day gone terribly bad someday! Something unique about every quaint little pub in the country is their routine capacity to produce an identically bizarre concoction prepared generally out of water, and romantically termed as Soup of the day. Stretching from the highlands of ice cold Scotland, to the hinterlands of fertile Kent, from the grasslands of midlands (do they have any such thing growing around Brummistan any more?)to the sultry sun kissed beaches of Cornwall, there is one dish certainly that you can source, and very often get away remaining healthy with, still paying nominally! and that is A cupbowl of soup. Every corner store, stocks it and even if the best before day is far far away, you are sure to enjoy a flavorful minestrone on a railway caf, on your way to snowdon.(and back!. if it does not happen to be a bank holiday!) With all the winter vegetables and some healthy cereals floating around, why dont we try our hands on treating ourselves to a vegetarian bowl of planet friendly Grazers soup made with Pearl barley and Cornish nettle yarg enough for four..

In a large stock pot, saut one large Spanish onion chopped roughly, a few sticks of celery polished into diamonds, two carrots sliced thinly(dont worry peeling them, as all the good bits are in the pesticide free skin), and a clove of garlic in olive oil until soft but

not browned. Sprinkle in two spoonfuls of plain flour and pearl barley and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Peel two potatoes of a desired variety and add them to the soup pot, along with a sprig of thyme. If you have some Vegetable stock floating around the house, that is always an added bonus, or add a liter of water to the stock pot, and bring it to a boil. During cooking, break up potatoes with the back of a spoon, adjust the seasoning, and serve hot topped with shreds of Cornish Nettle yarg. Serve the soup piping hot, with door stoppers of good bread, and some heart warming conversations and fond memories of a rather uncanny bowl of so called soup you were once served in a wedding that resembled Dish wash water. I like the chunkiness of this soup as it gives us plenty to chew upon, and has a menagerie of colours that meets the eye, as we aspire to match our wits with the elements of nature outside our double glazed windows. A cheeks tea spoon of curry spice, adds a bit of panache to the soup which I never recommend in excess! I like making soups in bulk, and freezing parts of them in batches, for the occasional lazy rainy day rations! Visit us in a wee bit for an authentic taste of modern British High Street Food. And if you cant wait to hear from me,follow me rambles on twitter, @RickOlivertweat