On Friday 25 November 2011 the Warsaw Philharmonic performed at St George’s Hall in Bradford and I was in the audience.
St. George’s Hall is an intimate auditorium and I was in the second row - close enough to make eye contact with the conductor, leader of the orchestra and the outstanding young violinist Kuba Jacowicz. It was a wonderful programme – Brahms, Mendelssohn, Górecki and Beethoven’s Fifth.
Beethoven’s Fifth was one of my first albums. I remember walking up the cobbled back streets clutching it under my arm. It seemed as delicate as the papddoms we used to make once a year. The kids on the street were gob smacked. They could not understand how I could squander my pennies on such a luxury. And although they didn’t know it they had a point because we didn’t have a record player until several years later.
But it was worth it to me. I had first heard the music at our school assembly and remember the thrill as I listened to it. We had a different piece of music every morning and had to guess the composer.
After the concert was over, we were rewarded with an encore. The artists could see how much we enjoyed ourselves for we clapped and clapped as though we were pounding spices for a masala.
When I was younger I visited three Poland several times including a more recent visit and have a lot of friends there. I introduced them to curry and cooked for a large group who loved the spicing and they introduced me to some of their delicacies. Here is one of my favourites Gołąbki - Golumpki steamed cabbage leaves separated by dunking the whole cabbage into hot water for a few mins and carefully peeling off each layer, these cabbage leaves are then filled with mince pork or beef , onions, mushrooms, rice or barley,herbs and spices if desired and rolled up into parcels, the parcels are then baked in the oven with a tomato sauce topping.
Most people who are not from Bradford think that we only know about curry but we have had a very substantial Polish community in our city for many years. The Bradford Polish Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary very soon.
There are of course lots of other communities in our City - Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, Chinese, Irish, Jews and of course folk from the Indian Subcontinent. Cultural diversity is not new to Bradford. Our city may have been even more diverse in the 19th century when the textile industry was booming. For example, there must have been a large German community because a neighbourhood just a short distance from St George’s Hall is still known as Little Germany.
In this blog I shall celebrate the food of some of those communities as well as that of my own Gujarati heritage.