Sometimes I just open the fridge and see what jumps out. As we all do. Other times I'll vary a recipe and give it a new name.
An old favourite, spaghetti carbonara, hadn't been on the table for a while, so that's what I wanted to cook.
I had eggs but I didn't have bacon. But if you can use prosciutto in place of bacon, why can't you use some other meat? No reason at all why not.
I had been to Elli's deli in Sydney Road, the Greek deli that sells smallgoods from everywhere. They had a notice in the window 'Now stocking UK smallgoods'. I went in and they had a tray of UK smallgoods from Rob, the specialist UK butcher and smallgoods maker, including three kinds of black pudding, the English version, the Scottish version and the Irish version.
No wonder those three tiny countries in Britain were always fighting with each other. They can't even agree on a sausage.
The English black pudding varied from the Irish only in that the English version included pork fat in the ingredients list. I wonder if they do blind tastings of these things. The Scottish version included oatmeal. Of course. There's oatmeal in everything in Scotland. It's very good for you.
So I bought some black pudding. The Irish version.
And I thought, standing there at the fridge, it crisps up beautifully. There's no reason at all why I can't make spaghetti carbonara using Irish black pudding in place of bacon.
And so I did.
And it was very good. The eggs blended in sensually with the spaghetti (La Triestina, small pasta manufacturer since 1954) and the dark flecks of fried Irish black pudding set off the flavour superbly along with a shake of parmesan and a shower of parsley.
Spaghetti Connemara, of course.