The promise of music

We now have a piano in the house. It arrived a few days ago, this gleaming black thing, filled with the promise of music. Promise, because none of us can play. But we have a little girl who’s eager to learn; she had her first lesson today.

The house sounds wonderful – off key, off pitch, off to a new start of some kind. As Chotto-ma and the piano get to know each other, the teacup rattles on its saucer. But there’s something in this early tunelessness that makes me glad. The house is writing its own song. There’s D playing his guitar, Chotto-ma tinkering with the piano, sunlight fumbling on the sofa, and me groping for words. Flimsy things that leave such a definite impression on the mind. There’s nothing like it – the three of us at home, feeling around, filling our own spaces, feet touching.

This morning, Chotto-ma’s frenetic bout of ‘composing’ on the piano resulted in two pieces, one of which she called ‘Walking through the forest’. The piece starts with the quiet trickle of a stream. The hop of a bunny. Leaves crunching. Deer scampering. And then it all takes a terrible turn. The growl of a lion. A loud, breathless chase. Crescendo, crescendo. And finally – utter, deathly silence. Dhang!Β 

Yes, I might need ear-plugs soon, but for now, it’s all good. There’s that promise of music. A tune blinking in the distance. The possibility of beauty in a row of black and white keys. A seed has been planted, and our spring is beginning to sound like a piano.

We went to the market today. Everything’s ablaze. The English spring is an extravagant creature. The stalls are reeling with colour and smell and a circus of seasonal produce. The flowers and fruits are showing off. The tomatoes are ridiculously red. We got some ridiculously-red tomatoes home, and I charred a few on an open fire, and made a sauce that tastes like our spring.

Ablaze and strong and full of feisty music.

Hot Charred-Tomato Sauce

This packs a punch. It’s very garlicky, it’s extra-spicy, and for me at the moment, it beats sriracha hands down. It’s the simplest thing to make, especially during a barbecue. We add it to everything nowadays – in soup, in a burger, as a dip, dolloped into pasta, as a marinade or in a sandwich. It’s gloriously good, with a personality to boot.


1 large, red tomato
2 cloves of garlic
2 green chillies

Char the tomato on a barbecue, or an open flame. I held my tomato above a hot hob with tongs, turning it this way and that, till the skin blackened.
Peel some of the skin off, leaving some charred bits sticking on. It gives the sauce a fabulous smokiness.
Put the charred tomato, garlic and chillies in a processor and blitz.
Add salt to taste.
Done. Smear.

(We had ours with courgette fritters today)Β 

So good.

23 thoughts on “The promise of music

  1. Tomatoes are the one thing I can't do without in the kitchen. And now with that colour, I just keep a bowl of them, on the vine, sitting by the window.

  2. Your wait is mine. And it'll be a long one, I'm sure πŸ™‚
    But thank you for looking forward to something I'm looking forward to too.

  3. Your writing is gloriously beautiful! I can feel the excitement and promise of a beautiful future for you and your family. Your sauce sounds wonderful! I will make it this weekend with smoked brisket. Yum!

  4. Aletha, thank you so much for such kind words. It's lovely to have you here.
    This sauce with a smoked brisket would be perfect – it wants something just as strong in flavour as that. I hope you enjoy it xx

  5. I am sure Chotto-ma can play – just looking at the picture I hear a future of sweet sounds πŸ™‚ just as much as i can taste that abundance of summer in your bbq tomato sauce.

  6. I have always been fascinated by pianos, by homes which have them, and by children and adults who play them. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about your little one's piano playing.

    Coincidentally, I am reading a book on pianos at the moment – Thad Carhart's The Piano Shop On The Left Bank.

    That sauce looks amazingly delicious. Would love to try it out.

  7. I just checked out the book on Amazon – and what good timing; it'd be the perfect book to give my husband right now. He's learning the piano with Chotto-ma πŸ™‚
    So, thanks for that.

  8. Pia, that tomato sauce looks amazing i can feel the tastebuds just by looking at it. One question i dont have a gas hob unfortunately could i try and grill it if the barbeque is not on? Fab to see you are also in England….so am i whereabouts?

  9. You write beautifully. I've just stumbled across your blog and so glad that I did!

    This sauce looks amazing and is a bit like salata duccos (no idea how to spell it – it's a middle-eastern thing) which has a thinner consistency but same ingredients.

  10. Thanks so much. Glad you stumbled in πŸ™‚
    Yes, I'm sure there are versions of this sauce – it seems like too good a combination to have come to my mind alone! Salata Duccos has a nice ring to it!

  11. πŸ™‚ thanks so much ..I have to say that I've found a blog finally that holds my interest…resonates strongly with me…that nostalgia for the days of my childhood growing up in my Thammi's house …that almost forgotten old era …I find them all in here …- Purano diner purano kotha..khoob kom lok eto sundor kore lekhe jeta mon chuye jaay

  12. Eto shundor ekta note lekhar jonno, much love. I'm glad you can connect with my words; that they bring back such happy memories for you. I couldn't ask more of this space.

  13. He really enjoyed it. I remember him saying it was a quiet, understated book – which is the kind we both like – that stayed with you. I have yet to read it, but it's on my list.

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