It refers to a theory that a movement as small as a butterfly flapping its wings can create tiny changes in the atmosphere that could ultimately change the path of a tornado. In other words, small changes to the initial condition of a system can cause a chain of events that can lead to large-scale changes to that system.
Take, for instance, the event that occurred two weeks ago - no boiler. A small (but hellishly inconvenient!) change in the initial condition of a system called Cooksister's Life. Because there was no heat, I felt bad about making the dinner guests I had invited over for dinner that week eat in their scarves and gloves, and so we postponed. However, I had already gone shopping for the dinner, so as a result of my boiler not working, I found myself alone in the house last week with two punnets of unusual mushrooms that I'd never buy for myself. And as a result of having the mushrooms in my fridge I tried my first raw shiitake mushroom… and fell totally in love.
I'm officially campaigning to have them renamed as credit crunch truffles.
Also as a result of the boiler breaking, we had to remove the two wall shelves in my kitchen to give British Gas access to the boiler. This meant removing every single thing on my shelves to my dining table, where I could suddenly take stock of what I'd been accumulating. And in the process I rediscovered the jar of Tartuflanghe white truffle salt (made with grey Guerande sea salt) that Johanna and I purchased last summer in Vienna and divided in half. There was my half, untouched and deliriously truffle-scented, waiting to meet Mr Shiitake.
The butterfly had flapped its wings and here I was on a Monday night in my kitchen holding some exotic mushrooms, a jar of truffle salt, and a dreamy faraway expression. This could only mean one thing – mushroom Stroganoff.
God bless that butterfly.
INDULGENT MUSHROOM STROGANOFF (serves 1 greedy person or 2 restrained people)
500g assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used half oyster and half shiitake)
3-4 spring onions, chopped (green bits too)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp mild olive oil
1 small glass red wine
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
50ml double cream
50ml soured cream
salt and pepper
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and spring onions and sautee over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent but not caramelised.
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook just until they start to soften, then add the red wine, cream and paprika to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook until the sauce starts to thicken a little. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt if you're planning to use a truffle finishing salt!).
Serve on a bed of brown and wild rice (I used 2/3 brown and 1/3 wild) and sprinkle liberally with white truffle salt. Pure indulgence.