I have been making what in Stoke-on-Trent is called lobby. In Merseyside it is called scouse and I am sure has different local names around the country and abroad. It is a stew. A food whose roots are in poverty, which makes a little poor quality piece of meat go a long way with plenty of potatoes and root vegetables and, what I love most, dumplings. Why ‘lobby’ I’m not sure perhaps because you just lob into a pot what is around the kitchen. I make enough to last me about five days.
To add some extra flavour I went to a local supermarket to get a sweet potato. They had some good ones, but on looking at the box I saw they were grown in Israel. I will not buy things made in Israel because of their treatment of the Palestinians, so I had to trudge off and find another shop selling them. Another supermarket and the box said USA, well a bit better as I like America (not their political leaders or international policies), and have met many great people over there working for their communities and unions.
This reminded me of when I was about 8 or 9. My mother took me shopping and I saw some bright red sweet Cape apples, she wouldn’t buy them because they were South African and said that at least she could add something to the opposition to apartheid. She wasn’t a political person and would certainly have been on the liberal conservative side of things, but she believed that apartheid was wrong and this was her bit to help. I continued that and never knowingly bought South African products until the regime changed.
Today I still find it hard, the plight of the poor seems no better, everyone has a vote and ‘freedom’ but mass poverty precludes the majority from really being in charge. The government seems to be owned by big business, the ideals lost. So I still won’t buy South African products.
The stew is cooking well and is on slow cook for about 8 hours, with its mix of Welsh beef, Scottish potatoes, American sweet potatoes, onions from France, swede from England, okra from Kenya, parsnips from Holland, carrots from Poland, Greek olive oil, leeks from Spain. It’s a pity we can’t all be lobbed into a stew pot and come out as one wonderful flavour!
Photograph of sweet potato taken at 10.30am
10.40am. Sweet Potato chopped into 50 pieces
..and the finished lobby…