Cafe Mari e Monti, Finsbury Park
11 Crouch Hill
020 7272 3302
by Poppy Tartt
Bubble and squeak is not a looker. Brave were the cooks who served up this crouching toad that threatened to spring unbidden into the mouth’s pond. But toads are interesting creatures and this one certainly offered more in the way of taste and texture than its unfortunate face dared promise. My sausage could have been a saveloy’s brother, so long and lean was it, so full of bounce. But the true sausage is an elder statesman to the saveloy’s gangly adolescent; this sausage eyed me gravely with dignity and respect. My mushrooms were the teeth of babies – tiny and underdeveloped. This was not appropriate – they ought to be at least as large as toes and twice as juicy. Sweet bacon! Fair, generous, wives to the sausage, the edges of the rashers curled delicately, reminding one of the kindness and pinkness of women. The egg, tragically, was puck-shaped, not quite fried, not quite coddled enough to have confidence in itself at such a young age. It had been taken from the breast of the pan too soon, I reflected. Inside it, seeking hope, or at the very least yolk, I found nothing but water and air. Perhaps it was frightened by its neighbour, as I was, a demonic disk of clotted blood – the fearful thing they call black pudding. I braved a only tongue-tip’s worth before passing it to my more carnivorous companion.
Later, coasting northwards on the memory of this multi-generational, anthropomorphic platter, like midges hitching a ride on a pork scratching, we turned to each other and cried out: “Life!”