“To Set Before a Queen” is a very old cookbook written by Alma McKee, a former cook of Princess Elisabeth’s household (Queen Elizabeth before she was crowned). The book is a unique collection of recipes, full of anecdotes and sharp insights into a hidden royal world. Since its publishing in 1964 this cookbook became more and more popular every year. I say, the book became more and more popular, not the Queen. In 1981 she lost two very important things: her son Charles and the hearts of the English people. Guilty as charged: Lady Diana.
It seems as if the aging process of the Queen Elizabeth has stopped with Lady Diana’s death. Unlikely that the Queen froze by the shock of the sudden accident in Paris. It seems more that Her Majesty was born again. Last year, after the Queen visited Berlin, articles circulated in the local newspapers – not about a content of Her 13 meetings throughout the three days she spent here, but about the physical condition that crones this almost ninety years old women. What is Her secret?, many people asked. And they found the answer in the old cookbook: it is a magic potion made out of barley. It is not a beer. It is not a scotch. It is simple barley water mixed with a little bit of lemon juice.
If we look back into history, we see that many great (especially Roman) emperors have derived their origins from the world of gods. Caesar claimed, for example, Venus as his ancestor. With Her barley-water worship the Queen shows us the traces of her divinity. They lead to the Greek Goddess Demeter.
Some say, the name Demeter is the same as gê mêtêr, that is, mother earth, while others consider Deo, which is contained in the word Demeter, as connected with dais and dainumi, and as derived from the Cretan word dêai, barley. So Demeter would be the mother or giver of barley. The notion of her, being the author of the earth’s fertility was extended to fertility in general, and accordingly she was seen as the goddess of marriage and was worshipped especially by women.
How many liters of barley water Kate has had to drink before she married Prince William?
Barley is an antiviral grain, contains anticarcinogenous substances,very little gluten and can be a great alternative for people suffering from allergies against standard types of flour. It is very good for sensitive stomachs, stops diarrhea and helps with digestion and getting rid of small bladder- and kidney stones and stomach ulcers. It can lower high temperature and alleviates asthmatic conditions, and, in combination with fennel grains, it is highly recommended to breastfeeding mothers!
Due to my unofficial family history from the father side, every illusion of being descendant of Aphrodite, Maria or a royal family is dried out within all its roots. My family tree refers more to an mysterious women of some Roman tribe from east-southern Balkan (which actually fits much better to my behavior).
As I am very bad in mixing cocktails, I did the best I can do: I prepared a meal. A risotto. A barley risotto.
Ingredients (serves 2):
150 g barley, washed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
5 fresh sage leaves, plus a few for garnish
20 g dried apricots, finely chopped
100 g feta cheese (optional)
50 g celery rood, finely chopped
700 ml vegetable broth
a knob of ghee or butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 small pumpkin (I used hokkaido pumpkin)
4 Tsp native olive oil
3 Tsp maple syrup, or honey
Barley Risotto Covered With Roasted Pumpkin
1. Wash barley well, drain and rinse until water runs clear. Set aside.
2. Melt ghee (or butter) in a large stock pot. Add onions, salt and stir to coat. Add celeriac. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are softened. Add garlic, sage, barley, 700ml vegetable broth and the feta cheese, if using. Stir well and make sure that the broth is covering the barley by at least a few centimeters. If not, add more. Bring to a simmer, stir and cover.
3. Over the next 30 minutes stir the pot every few minutes and check the broth level, adding more as needed to just cover the barley.
4. After about 10 minutes, start to prepare the pumpkin. Preheat the oven on 200 C. Wash the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut it into the 1,5 cm wide slices. Massage the olive oil, maple syrup (or honey), and some salt into the pumpkin and place it on the baking sheet covered with baking paper. Roast the pumpkin for 10 minutes or until it becomes tender. If so, remove the pumpkin from the oven.
5. The barley is done when it is tender but not mushy. Divide the barley between plates, place the pumpkin slices on top and garnish with a sage leaves, black pepper and few more drops of maple syrup (or honey).