Red. I love red. I wear red in winter, to outcry from my very western-world colleagues. But I offer no apologies. I like the passion, the romance and the strength of crimson and cerise hues. However, I wasn’t prepared for the sight that confronted me at a meeting last Thursday afternoon. This was an office gathering of leaders and future leadership, myself inclusive 🙂 (Ha!). I wore a red sweater to cover up my striped navy blue and white camisole, very nautical. I walked into the meeting room, one of the first to arrive. Shortly after a lady walked up in a red jacket over a black and white dress. A few minutes after, yet another lady, a leader this time came in, red beaded necklace, red jacket and red lipstick to go. By the time the room was full with 50 odd people, a cursory survey round the room showed there were a total of 7 women wearing red! I was completely SHOCKED. And it got me thinking about why we were all dressed in the same colour. Of course there were women in every shade of other colour from black to brown, grey and green but the ‘reds’ stood out and in my small mind, I think it was obvious that we had a statement to make.
And not one of ‘love’ as I’d always thought, but rather expressions of confidence and power. This cardinal tint has for ages signaled ‘rank’ in colour psychology, cutting across cultures and biology. In Nigeria and many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, the regalia of chiefs and traditional rulers embraces red, from unique beaded headdresses to red coral necklaces, a mark of being in the higher echelons of society. Apparently in Ancient Rome, the most powerful citizens were literally called “the ones who wear red. Just to share my thoughts with you. Nothing to really do with food especially since I’m sharing a Nectarine tart with you, whose only contribution to this scarlet discussion is its skin.
In an attempt to clean out deep freezer, I let my pack of ‘about to expire or expired’ filo pastry defrost overnight. Next morning I ground up some pecan nuts, a bit too finely with sugar and cardamom seeds, determined to make a nice ‘carpet’ upon which some fruit could lay upon. Still in a cardamom daze (after this jam), I tossed slices of nectarines in icing sugar and more freshly ground cardamom seeds.
Beginning with one of my four layers of filo, I began to make my ‘galette’ on a paper-lined baking tray. I brushed on some melted butter, topped with another layer of filo and repeated till all my layers were used up. Then I created the ‘pecan patch’, being careful to leave an inch-wide border round the entire pastry.
Feeling quite artistic and gourmet, I carefully (as carefully as careful can be) laid the aromatic, sugar-coated nectarine slices in three rows, eating some as I put others down to rest. Once that mission was accomplished, the edges were tucked up, providing walls of constraint for this tart.
Wanting to give it some shine, I brushed on some softened strawberry jam. And it was ready.
I let it cool down and excitedly tucked in.
I was disappointed with the pastry – the filo was chewy and thin, completely lacking in character. Shortcrust pastry would have been SO much better. Next up to join the ‘let-down’ list was the pecan covering. The mix was too fine…..soaking up all the juices of the nectarines and giving nothing back. They would have made more of a statement had they been combined in the shortcrust pastry or at least if the mix was chunkier. And last but not the least, we had the cardamom-spiced nectarines which while nice suffered from an overdose of cardamom on my part. They had a strong menthol flavour, a touch over-powering but edible.
The husband and I enjoyed it nevertheless, die-hards that we are – him with yogurt and moi, with creme fraiche. It looked good but didn’t live up to the hype. I guess you could say the same of me in my red outfit. Yes it looked good and made me feel a surge of confidence but inside, what will quiver will shake and will wobble. No dress is going to take care of that completely, red or white. Neither is a great-looking tart going to be transformed into deliciousness purely on face value. And that L&Gs is the morale of the story. The inside counts!
Do you have a ‘red’ thing? Have a great week ahead.