Is taking a Pola Negri Banana Trifle to High Barnet like taking coals to Newcastle?  I’m not sure, but I do know this much, it was absolutely brilliant fun to do.

I’ve been planning to embark on a project relating to the superb artwork The Great Bear by Simon Patterson for a donkey’s age.  If you are not familiar with it, here is part of it…

Tube station names are replaced with names of footballers, philosophers, explorers, saints, Italian artists, comedians and MOVIE STARS!  I knew that I had to cook my way around the Northern Line, for it is the Northern line that is the movie star line. It’s particularly apt for me as my local station is Highgate on that line…

so if I wanna go anywhere by tube, my journey starts there.

I will forever think of it as Groucho station now rather than Highgate thanks to Simon Patterson.

As with all big ideas, it took a while to get off the ground, but I have the full support of Mr Rathbone in this madcap scheme, not least because he is slightly obsessed with the history of the tube.  So each time we visit a stop on the line, he’ll be providing a FACTOID or two about the station for your delight and delectation.   He too is Northern Line user as the nearest tube stop to his house is Belsize Park station, or if you prefer, Henry Fonda station.

A couple of Sundays ago, I rustled up a Pola Negri Banana Trifle and our adventure began.  Bus to Groucho station from my flat, then a lovely tube ride in the open air (the whole line between Groucho and Pola is overground rather than underground) to our destination at the end of the line.  It really felt like we were going on a little holiday, a – big – day – out.

On arrival, I proudly presented my trifle to the roundel

and then scoffed some.

I think the next time I am asked for a profile photo, I’m going to send that one.

One of Barnet’s most famous inhabitants was the lovely Amy Winehouse who bought a house there in 2009.  This, of course, meant a field day for those who like jokes based on cockney rhyming slang as Barnet is cockney rhyming slang for hair (after Barnet Fair) and of course, Amy had a famously High Barnet.

This also presents me with the opportunity of sharing here, my tribute to Amy when she died in 2011.  An attempt to get my Barnet as high as hers.

The dish: I didn’t think I would like Pola’s trifle, but I loved it.  Mr R observed that there were “salty pockets” and indeed there was definitely a salty rather than super-sweet taste to the trifle.  Delicious.

The star: All I knew about Pola Negri before making this trifle was that she made a big scene at Rudolph Valentino’s funeral.

but now I know that she also could also make a mean trifle.

Mr R’s station factoids:  “High Barnet is the ‘northernmost’ station on the Northern line.  It was opened on April 1st 1872 and still features many of its original Victorian features. It was first served by Northern line tube trains in April 1940.”  And my favourite of his factoids is this, “the Northern line embankment between High Barnet and Totteridge and Whetstone is notable for housing one of Barnet’s only colonies of Common Lizard.”

Thanks Mr R!  He’s game for anything that man!

He is always a one for puns, and kept referring to the trifle as Polo Neck-ri Trife.

Haha!  In the Photoplay booklet this recipe appeared in, there is a fabulous comment from La Negri and a stern warning.

Miss Negri laughs at calories when she eats this.  Not for those who are overweight.

Yeah Pola, I was laughing at calories when I ate it too!

Pola Negri’s Banana Trifle

½ cup milk

½ cup water

1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch / cornflour

1 even teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 bananas

6 lady fingers

½ pint cream or whipped white of one egg

Slice bananas and lay them in glass dish in alternate layers with four ladyfingers split in two.  Put the milk and water in a saucepan; add the sugar, salt and the cornstarch diluted in a little cold water.  When it has thickened pour it over the bananas, and let it stand until cold and ready to serve, then cover the top with whipped cream, or if that is not convenient use the whipped white of one egg sweetened with one tablespoon of sugar.  Split and break in two the remaining lady fingers, and place them upright around the edge.

Recipe notes: It may just be wishful thinking, but weren’t lady fingers a whole lot bigger in the 1970s?  My mum is a champion trifle maker and I’m sure I remember great big fat lady fingers in ye olden days.  The ones I got from Ocado were very small and hard to split into two.  I therefore used about twice as many as Pola suggested.

I added some extra cornflour as it didn’t look as though my custard was going to set.

I found these in Morrisons and thought they would be a fitting topping for the trifle.  It did indeed add a certain tinseltown sparkle.

All in all, a very good trifle!  Surprisingly tasty considering the lack of BOOZE!

So The Great Bear Project has begun.  I am very, very pleased to have got this party started!  Next stop, Totteridge and Whetstone.

Or if you are Simon Patterson, Laurel and Hardy.

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