Clearing the Brain
Just clearing the bits and pieces clogging my brain so I can fully embrace 2020.
These are the desserts that need only a spoon. The rest, fork and spoon please!
Left: Lemon posset with raspberries - 1960s demitasse, Arzberg
Right: Raspberry sorbet by C.M. - "custard cups" c.1910
Must accept that I can’t change the world. (Who’s listening?)
At restaurants, at check-outs, I'm still being asked, “So, how’s your day been so far?” Sorry, I don’t know you well enough to tell you. (Management training needed?)
Still not given a fork with my dessert cutlery, only a spoon, so I’m expected to use my thumb. (Surely this wouldn't increase staff wages.)
Cheese (festooned with garden debris and chocolate-coated strawberries) still being arranged on hefty boards that are too heavy to pass. Is this the idea? If it can't be passed, it won't be eaten. (It is OK to put cheese on a plate.)
I felt anger on receiving an invitation to celebrate International Women’s Day with Champagne and a decadent three course lunch. The fizz is nice but actually domestic (not Champagne) but a decadent lunch? Why is good food decadent? This is so puritan. Guilty pleasures? If you feel guilty, you shouldn’t be doing it.
It was easy to decline as I was asked to launch a new venue (fare) at the Whitmore Sparkke hotel and brew house run by women, the restaurant kitchen headed by the joyously talented Emma McCaskill.
What did I learn in 2019?
I learnt to save some pasta cooking water, re-adding it to the drained pasta, stirring for creaminess. (See cacio e pepe)
Where is the natural?
I am sick of labels, labels, labels on food; vegan, gluten free, lactose free, artisanal, hand-harvested, healthy, even no cholesterol. I thought “cholesterol” went out years ago. (Did you know that salt is gluten free, lactose free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, sometimes hand-harvested, healthy and contains no cholesterol? No need for labels or even use-by dates.)
"Eat food, not too much, mainly plants" - Michael Pollan
Known Since the Dawn of Time
I’m suspicious of heirloom vegetables (and flowers). In the main, they are multi-coloured hybrids; carrots, tomatoes are the main culprits. Nothing wrong with them but they’re hybrids, not heirloom. They are not the carrots eaten since the dawn of time. I've tasted some ancient apples and pears in the "potagier" of Versailles, (I've never actually been to the palace). They were amazing in their variety, some tasting like a spritz in the mouth of Guerlain's Mitsouko. Sadly, both the fruit and Mitsouko have been "silenced" by market forces and the EU.
(David Austen roses are lovely but they are modern hybrids, grown to look “old-fashioned”.)
Not sure these will replace my Negroni (cucumber, kale & vodka, or kombucha & peach cooler)
P.R had just hosted one of the opening parties of Writers' Week. He had checked the drinks, chatted with guests, welcomed "names", spruiked for subscribers and thanked sponsors. Later ordering a pre-dinner drink, "wellness" was the last thing on his mind. That morning I had read that bartenders/mixologists are creating cocktails now to cater to the demand for "healthier" options, supposedly. You think I’m joking? Kombucha margaritas, açai mojitos and best (or worst) of all, cucumber, kale & vodka spritz; all are being trialled in a bar in our fair city. Who’s kidding whom?
Future Gourmets, Future Environmentalists
I worry where the next batch of gourmets will come from.
It could be a nice to take children to a restaurant. What a shame that the dreaded screen, phone or iPad is seen as the table “baby-sitter”. This defeats the purpose of sitting together, learning to chose what you want to eat, learning to hold your cutlery, learning to be part of a conversation and most of all, learning patience.
I have a great tip for kids. My brother and I learnt early that when we went out or when our parents’ friends came over, if we sat, listened, and stayed very, very, very quiet, we got to stay up very, very, very late and heard all the adult gossip. Bliss. I recommend it.
Left: Summer pudding - flavour and awesome technique - Alan Weiss, emeritus chef of distinction, not afraid to be perfect or simple.
Right: - greatly appreciated (note spoon AND fork)
Cooking with Love
This year I’ll continue to love cooking but I’ll avoid the “cooking with love” syndrome. I'm gagging over books of syrupy memoirs; lazy lunches beneath flowering walnut trees, their nuts yielding the oil that bathes our foraged salad, crusty bread from the ancient village wood-oven, the artisanal goats cheese, the groaning platters of barely recognisable fruit charmingly dappled (à la Caravaggio) by coddling moth and hail, happy children to the left of me, nonnas to the right.
Love? I'll stick to good ingredients, knife skills, flavour balance, cultural expressions, invitations and conversation staging. I think along the way, there will be love generated.
Do the "love" cookers ever share with others and actually invite people?
4/3/2020 06:00:19 pm
Some years ago, dining at the wonderful Celler Can Amer in the central Mallorquin city of , I was served deep purple carrots. I asked what they were, and was told that carrots were originally this colour
I think your purple carrots were certainly an old variety. Carrots that we eat today have been domesticated and nothing wrong with that. In the main, they've been improved in size and reliability. Orange carrots were developed (from creamy white) by the Dutch in the early 1600s because orange was the national colour. I just have a suspicion that a lot of the varieties of F&V are developed or domesticated for nothing more than interest and fun. Today we are in awe of anything that has been happening for thousands of years (new age "medicine"), much of which is bogus. Nothing wrong with multi-coloured tomatoes but I don't think they have much to do anymore with the tomatoes of the Aztecs. Thanks for posting.
7/3/2020 05:02:18 pm
Actually a little research on my part found that these carrots were zanahorias moradas, purple/violet (an oco morado is a black eye) which describes them perfectly.
I am just a victim of their system as you are. I'm told you can't even tick "like" without a long process of authentication. Getting a post is a thrill, a delight. There would be more interaction if the process was both easier and less humiliating (robot indeed). I will discuss this with my Blog Master, he may be able to help.
6/3/2020 02:02:46 am
Loved reading all of this
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