I cook over wood. It adds flavour . . . and I don’t have an oven. Luckily I have wood. It grows around here in the form of olive trees which are pruned severely every four years, and other fast-growing trees with branches which crack off when you least expect it, and which are easier to saw through.
So preparing dinner starts with dragging branches up to the house, and sawing them. Initially I saw them into pieces short enough to fit into the hearth, and then, after a while, into long pieces that won’t fit, but will after half has burnt off.
Making the broken omelette type of affair that is the revuelto is relaxing enough, but assembling the wood required to make jam and sterilise the jars is an effort of self-sacrifice and physical endurance.
The sensible thing would be to borrow a chainsaw, get a load of wood done at once and keep it in the woodshed, but with one thing and another . . . and to be honest, I still have to build the woodshed. I have left my haul of branches and hefty roots under a massive, flapping, black plastic sheet held down by scaffolding at the back of the building. It’s squalid. It’s easy to be squalid; let aesthetics slip. Aside from me the only people that see it are government officials flying around looking for illegal extensions and people to fine in order to meet the municipal electricity bills.
Generally I end the wood preparation session looking for a plaster, or slumped against the wall staring vacantly into the distance, with a glass of Rioja. I draw that out as long as I can, and then I think about what to cook.