Last year, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I wrote about an odd dream. I do not often dream, and it is almost unheard of for me to remember my dreams, but last year I was struck. Today, I repost that dream, and the food that was so integral to it. It resonates with me still, and reminds me of new friends I have met this year. It has become suddenly relevant again in these days, and makes me smile. Enjoy!
'I had the oddest dream. I rarely remember anything about my dreams, but last night's was so vivid and strange that since waking up it has been coming back to me in snatches. For starters, the Sacred Heart chapel from the Oratory morphed itself onto the side of the Priory Church at Blackfriars. Those of you who know those places can figure out how odd that was. Suffice to say the aesthetics and the architecture shouldn't have matched, but somehow it worked. Despite the setting, it wasn't a dream about being in church. There was a big party going on in the chapel, and many people I knew from different walks of life were there laughing, joking, talking and generally having fun. I was wandering in and out of the different groups joining in for a while and listening. Often there were people talking to each other that I would never put together, I shan't go into details because all the people were 'real' so it wouldn't be fair. But everyone was getting on and the place was packed. And the food! The food was Jambalaya. How can you say the word Jambalaya and not feel happy? It is a glorious mix of cultures, french and spanish cuisine combined with deep hearty spices from the caribbean; vegetables, fish, meat and rice all cooked up together in one big open pan. There was wine too. It was Rose, which is odd, because I don't particularly like Rose, but I guess I wasn't choosing and it went really well with the Jambalaya. There was music playing, but I do not remember what it was, and often it was only the background to the many animated conversations taking place. The person who stood out the most, standing right at the top of the room, chatting away to various others, was Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP. He was wearing his usual white habit, and a huge, diamond shaped, iridescent green ring. The ring quite freaked me out. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I even asked him to take it off, but he shrugged me away and didn't. Once I had spotted it though, I couldn't concentrate on the party or the food anymore, only the stupid ring. It really bothered me. No matter where I went in the room I could see it. No one else seemed to mind. I left the party, and wandered through what would be the sacristy out into the main church of Blackfriars. It was empty but I could still hear the party. The light was beaming in through the top windows, as it often does, causing the tabernacle, which was dressed for ordinary time, to sparkle and sparkle....Then I woke up, and I have been haunted by the dream ever since. I hope Fr. Tim won't mind me mentioning him by name. It is only a dream after all. I certainly hope he doesn't own any diamond shaped iridescent green rings. I do not like them.'
By way of therapy to get rid of this dream I shall share the recipe for joyful jambalaya. It is great for parties, and I am sure it would go very well with a chilled Rose, dry, not sweet.
About 150 - 200g of smoky chorizo, diced
a red pepper and a yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced on a diagonal
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
a few fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
about 200g long grain rice
a can of chopped tomatoes
700ml vegetable or chicken stock, hot
1/2 tabasco, plus extra to serve
200 - 300g tiger prawns, peeled
If it is a party party I get some whole ones too, because they look good and I like watching guests struggle to eat them politely.
4 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and finely sliced
Peas (if you fancy)
Lemon and Lime wedges, to serve