There’s usually something delightful and unexpected in even the most uninspiring-looking independent London corner shop.

This week, a generous bunch of dry shallots and a box of carob.  Discovered at opposite ends of the North London line.  The shallots were sliced paper-thin in salads, and finely diced in a Vietnamese style dipping sauce.  And yet, the bunch still appears complete.

Secondly – though less colourful, rather more exciting – carob pods.  To parents of children born in the 80’s, carob was sold as ‘healthy’ chocolate; a sorry fallacy perpetrated by health food stores.  The aroma prompts unhappy memories of Mars Bars That Weren’t Allowed.

Tasting again, the flavour is more suited to a grown up palate: perhaps a sweet version of beer, and olives.  An earthier, and chewier dried date.  Great to chew one’s way through as a sweet snack or dessert, though you need to watch out for the teeth-breakingly hard seeds.  Half the pack devoured, I plan to grind and bake the remainder.  Carob-tastic recipes anyone?