I never liked lemon curd when I was little, though the truth is I had never tried it. I was yet to discover the joys of tuna, brown sauce, green beans, mayonnaise, tomatoes, cold custard and spaghetti carbonara simply because I had decided I didn't like the look of them. Besides, my little sister had decided she loved lemon curd and so the family foods were allocated. She would always have lemon curd and I would have Bovril. My Bovril later became Marmite as it was decided our household should "give up" Bovril for health purposes. The theory behind this I'm still not clear on.
As a child I was infuriatingly picky about what I would and wouldn't eat and, like most fussy people, expanding my palate was the result of embarrassment. When my first boyfriend came to our house for tea it was the height of summer and my mother, June, announced she was doing a salad nicoise. Salad nicoise was terribly new and en vogue then, like The Eden Project and Harry Potter, and I wouldn't eat it. June was going to make it for everyone apart from me "but it's alright," she announced "because I've got you a pie." I cried and pointed out what an oaf he would think I was, sat at the end of the table with my chicken pie while everyone else had tuna and capers. The prospect was too much and I ate salad for one of the first times that night and was thrilled it wasn't the horror I'd imagined.
I was at university the first time I tried mayonnaise. I'd had vodka which always encourages a devil may care attitude towards trying something new, like not wearing a coat on the way home or trying to line dance. It was the end of the night and we went back to Amy's flat where she made crinkle cut oven chips and presented them with mayonnaise. Half greed, half embarrassment at the thought of whining "I don't like mayonnaise," I got stuck in and have been friends with mayo and Amy ever since.
Last summer someone at work got sent a hamper as part of a press pack. It had gingham napkins, scones, jam and a jar of lemon curd. "You seem like someone who likes lemon curd," she said and popped it on my desk. Again faced with the age old embarrassment of admitting I didn't like it having never tried it, I said "Gorgeous! Thank you so much!" Also I like the idea of being someone who likes lemon curd. Plus it was a gift, a nice kind gift and it would have to be something really horrid like mushrooms or melon for me to trot over and give it her back. I put it in my bag thinking, "well I do really love jam, maybe this will extend that pleasure."
Over the next few weeks I fell heavily in love with the lemon-y joy. Initially I tried it on a bit of hard leftover sourdough, which granted isn't the best canvas but it was that or half a red pepper. Tangy, sweet, sort of creamy and lemony in a bubble bath way, it was a delight. Like everything in life it's better with butter but it can be enjoyed naked and it goes on EVERYTHING. Toast, bagels, crumpets, rich tea biscuits and in an odd, extreme moment I smothered it on a stale slice of Victoria sponge which was heaven. I'm not ashamed to say I have eaten it straight from the jar with a spoon. My favourite discovery was on top of a digestive with a blob of Philly creating a sort of mini cheesecake.
You can put it in stirfrys and if you're one of those people who juice things, you can add it to veggies for a little sweetener. Basically anything you would normally add honey or lemon to will welcome a bit of the curd. Someone the other day said you can glaze chicken and salmon with it, which I'll be doing for most of the weekend. It was also a brilliant friend at Christmas, doubling up as chutney on a cheese board and is the ultimate comfort food now we're in January. Lemon curd on toast with a port and tonic will be one of the best nights of your life. It's January. Stay in, get a loaf, watch War and Peace and get your spread on.Suggest a correction