The Last Supper - nun, Plautilla Nelli -Florence - c.1565
(We'll never know what was served at Christ's last supper but this is how she saw it - lamb, lettuce, bread, broad-beans (or fava beans), herbs and red wine. (Personally, I might have added a lemon but...) More about the painting and in particular, the tablecloth next post.
Coco Chanel is reported to have said that before going out, go to the looking glass and remove one thing. Such strict restraint is difficult for me at times, but I’m working on it.
Around the so-called holiday season, advertising is heavy with food and drink. (And adding to the junk in our environment, are the stocking fillers. Just don't go there!) I wonder at the sanity (and the decorum) of it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an indulger. I love specialness, I love treats, I love generosity but are the trinkets and the feasting becoming unseemly?
When I was in the business of preparing galas for special occasions, everything from weddings to the selling of luxury cars, the underlying theme was over-abundance. It was important to provide food that was not just generous, special and delicious but it had to be seen to be too much. It was important to entertain family, friends and clients in such as way that there was enough to discard, to throw away.
A friend described an event overseas where the pre-dinner drinks and nibbles offered not only elaborate canapés on trays by waiters, but buffets of ethnic diversity around which to wander - sushi freshly prepared, tiny shashliks on a grill, sliders (that's a mini hamburger, in case you didn't know) Peking Duck pancakes, barbecued ribs - all more than could be consumed - and then guests sat down to dinner!
Is this a way of soothing memories of fear and deprivation in our recent and distant past, in our family, our cultural identity and history? Or is it about power, showing that you can?
It certainly has little to do with hospitality and generosity. Too much can be embarrassing and now, in the 21st century, perhaps it's also awkward. Waste is no longer chic.
The President, entertaining National Champions, the Clemson Tigers.
(Feeding the Tigers) And he doesn't think much of the salad eaten by the First Lady.
Ample - generously sufficient to satisfy
Plenty – lots, perhaps more than seemly
Adequate - quite good quality but less than excellent, passable
Abundant - Lots, and lots and lots of it
Groaning - so overladen that the tables (and guests) groan beneath the weight.
Has the festive season made me grumpy?
This is not a recipe blog but these are worth sharing. If you're going to have something sugary, this might be it.
Candied Grapefruit Peel.
Cut the ends off the grapefruit.
Lay the fruit on one cut side, then with a sharp knife, remove the peel in sections, working around the fruit.
Cut from top to bottom, taking both the peel and the pith. (You may even get a little piece of flesh - which is allowed.)
Cut the peel into long strips (size of course depending on your grapefruit). The strips will swell so make the strips around 1cm (1/4 inch) wide, no more.
Place strips into a large pan, allowing no more than two layers deep.