One of the good things about not drinking is how it reinvigorates
your interest in good, real food.
I'm not talking burgers
and chips here, with fading, heat-sealed pictures on the wall, but proper food
eaten as near to where it's grown as possible.
of mine in a lovely, self-sustaining valley outside San José once told
me he believed many of the world's problems (i.e., those to do with packaging)
would be solved if everybody only ate what they could grow or hunt down for themselves
and get it home that night. Before it went dark, preferably.
had no use of recipes, whereas I've always been interested in cookery books and
books about food and there is a difference in those two categories.
has a lot of Latin names about where foodie things come from and the other has
imperative instructions on how to cook them all.
are really only two books in English that you need to bother about, if you are
bothered at all. And this time we're not talking Jamie Oliver or even the blessed
Delia. Let me bother you.
The first is Alan Davidson's
treatise, which is called the Oxford Companion to Food. It's a big book, the sort
you can rest your plate on, published by Oxford University Press and it costs
a tidy £40.
Here's everything you need to know,
from artichokes to zucchini. I see the spell checker monster doesn't like that.
OK then, courgettes.
Let's try out the book. You must
already know that courgettes are called zucchinis in America for this to work,
or I should have chosen something else such as zebu, which I see here is an edible
African hunch-backed cow. Let's see what Alan Davidson says:
is the anglicised (and internationally current) form of the Italian word which
denotes one of the most luxuriant of dishes which is generally supposed to have
been invented in the early 16th century at the Florentine court of the Medici...".
At least, that's what I thought it said until I realised
that I was reading about zabaglione... But you get the idea.
I could go on and so does he, but do you get my drift? Ask me something else.
What about Durian fruit, that awfully smelly thing they have in Thailand?
he goes: "A tropical fruit notorious for its taste and smell, either or
both of which may provoke reactions ranging from revulsion to adulation..."
and so on. There are no recipes, though. It is the ultimate in food information.
It's as though what you do with it, by applying heat, is up to you.
new edition of Larousse Gastronomique is a different kettle of aspic.
the lavish tome recreated from the 1930s when French food was more than just supreme
chicken. It's published by Hamlyn and is a snip at just £60. This one is
too heavy to have on your lap. Sir Terence Conran says it should be on every kitchen
shelf, though I happen to think his book about cooking should be there, too.
to know about aspic? Here it is: "A way of presenting cold cooked food
(meat, poultry, foie gras, fish shellfish, vegetables or even fruit) by setting
it in a moulded and decorated jelly."
tells you how to do it all.
Everything is here, not exactly
on a plate, but in the most informative way possible. It's timeless and immaculate.
It beats drinking for a living, I can tell you.
abound that the Queen Mum has gone to that great milliner in the sky. If it's
true, you read it here first. Apparently her staff at Clarence House are mostly
gay. She once called up the stairs: "Is there an old Queen up there who
could bring an old Queen down here a large gin and tonic?"