I’ve often had compliments on the long plaits of shallots that hang in my kitchen for half the year. People have asked me how to do it, but It’s difficult to explain. Nobody taught me, you see. I just did it. I think it must have been some sort of atavistic race-memory due to a Breton heritage and the long history of the Johnny Onions (not that I grow onions) who came over to the UK on their bikes, laden with plaits of onions.
I’ve wondered in the past about maybe doing a ‘how to’ post… I should have known better.
Lovely sunny evening yesterday – lovely sunny day, in fact, except I was away. Put shallots out to bask in sun on return. Shallots been curing for some days now, on and off, dodging rain showers. Looked over shallots, realised stalks drying out nicely, just about ready for plaiting.
Did first string, always a bit fiddly and untidy as body memory takes a bit of time to return. Worked fine; not forgotten how after all.
Then had an ‘aha’ moment re finally getting round to doing tutorial post. Good idea. In theory.
Went and got camera, took shot of ready and waiting scene. Selected first three fat shallots, got strong stalks, quite long stalks too, vital. Set up first shot. Angle of sun not the easiest but hey. Cross three over each other…
Not sure that’s right. Rearrange shallots.
Unfortunately neglected to notice precariously balanced trug, despite having photographed it earlier for potential set-up shot:
which then falls to ground with strange noise. Inadvertently jump back, stand in trug, fall over. Swear mightily. Rearrange self, trug, shallots. Where camera? Camera under bench. Retrieve camera. Camera OK.
Set up next shot, where you bend the one in the middle over the one on the left:
Hang on, that’s wrong, should be the one on the right which goes over. Should it? Rearrange shallots. No, that was fine. Reaarange shallots. Next shallots due to be used fall down gap between planks of bench. Hold plait in place with camera, retrieve shallots from grass. Camera weight not enough, rearrange shallots…
I do know how to do this, honest. Decide to do another practice string, sans camera. This works, so decide to take shot showing back of plait:
Hold string up to do so. Unfortunately noise has – unbeknownst to me, because I was concentrating on thinking consciously about something I can do quite well unconsciously – attracted Next Door’s Cat.
Cat leaps on table, bats dangling shallot string with mighty paw. Have clearly made edible cat toy. Swing string away from cat, cat follows, try and biff cat with shallots, trug falls off bench again, step into the ********* trug again, fall over. Swear even more mightily, with added shouting. Cat runs off.
Abandon all hope of producing online tutorial on ancient Breton art of plaiting onions and related doo-dahs. Just do the rest, no camera, they’re fine.
Years ago, when I was a stand-up, I used to despise slapstick. I evidently missed my way. Again.
Incidentally, when typing this up, the WordPress spellchecker kept changing ‘trug’ to ‘drug’. If only.