Julia

In the late 90s I had a crush on Julia Child. I was in my thirties and married. She was in her 80s, widowed with bad knees. Still, I was enthralled. I was living in California doing postgrad studies. As an escape from the books, I watched old reruns of The French Chef, the public…

Poetry from the kitchen #12

A la Carte Elisabeth Rowe Let me prepare for youCorn fed carp with a coulis of saffron marmaladeFilo parcels of snails in sorrel sauce Let me bring to your tableCaribbean caviar with galette of pistachio and endiveBallottine of quail with mozzarella Consider tonight’s specialRack of pigeon with Roquefort and chargrilled pinenutsRed mullet in a maple…

Poetry from the kitchen #11

The Simple Truth Philip Levine I bought a dollar and a half’s worth of small red potatoes,took them home, boiled them in their jacketsand ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.Then I walked through the dried fieldson the edge of town. In the middle of June the lighthung on in the dark…

We give thanks for winter

Michael Leunig We give thanks for the blessing of winter:Season to cherish the heart.To make warmth and quiet for the heart.To make soups and broths for the heart.To cook for the heart and read for the heart.To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart.To dream…

The olive

The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palms, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers — all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent smell of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than…

Tandoh on eating well

We accept the lie that there is a perfect way of eating that will save your soul and send you careering blithely through your 80s, into your 90s and beyond. Do what you want, we’re told – but you’ll die if you get it wrong. I don’t want you to feel this way. Food shouldn’t…

The taste of sadness

The week after dad’s death, two gifts arrived on my doorstep: a foil covered tray of chicken enchiladas and a ceramic pot of beef Bourguignon. Both were homemade and left by friends. As different as one dish was from the other, they tasted equally of comfort. There is something about food and grief that are…

E.B. White on kitchens

At a meeting of the American Society of Industrial Designers in the 1950s, one of the speakers made the assertion that “the kitchen as we know it today is a dead dodo.” In response, White offered this: I think the kitchen, like the raccoon, is a dead dodo only if you choose to shoot it…

Ephron on certainty

What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It’s a sure thing! It’s a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure; it has a mathematical certainty in…

Poetry from the kitchen #10

Green Apples Elisabeth Rowe Orchard applesacid greentwist the face in sweet distaste Snuggled in theirporcelain bowlshadowed curve and shining sky Granny Smiths’innocencesours the tongue’s experience Seditious thingsapples arehardcore hate in skintight love Watch outEve left herdental records in this fruit

Capon on the pleasures of drudgery

I despise recipes that promise results without work, or success without technique. … Technique must be acquired, and, with technique, a love of the very processes of cooking. No artist can work simply for results; he must also like the work of getting them. Not that there isn’t a lot of drudgery in any art…

Cherry and hazelnut cake

I don’t recall nuts when I was a kid. I do remember mum passing around a square each of Cadbury’s fruit ‘n nut after the fish & chips were done, and dad’s Christmas jar of chocolate coated peanuts not so generously shared. But apart from those, nuts were not a thing. I like them now….

Food: the time of our lives

‘Foods and the meals we make of them are our clocks. They are our faithful calendars. In a real sense, they are the time of our life.’ Jeremy MacClancy This morning I drank coffee with my beloved. Then there was breakfast. At midday, or thereabouts, I’ll eat lunch and tonight I’ll make dinner for my…

Kitchen Rage

There’s something centring about the act of cooking. Put it down to my churchly vocation, but I’ve long imagined the preparation of food as a contemplative act — there is a spiritual calm that comes with it. Whatever the day has held, an hour at the kitchen bench brings me home. As I dice, sauté…

Writing about food: celebrating the trivial

I am a glutton for good food writing. At its best it can transport me to far-away tables, tempt me with new tastes, prod my memories of heritage and family, confront prejudices and sharpen my sense of justice. With nothing but words, my imagination is fed and my living is challenged. I am richer for…

Lemon tea cake

There were lemons in the Garden of Eden. I’m sure of it. To imagine a place of perfection without these yellow jewels of acidity is impossible. Though northern India claims its origin, the lemon has been regarded the most significant fruit in Middle Eastern and European cuisines for centuries. And for good reason. In the…

Cooking and Writing

Cooking and writing. They’re the two activities I gravitate to if time is spare; the two things, frankly, I would rather do than most anything else. Yet they are different, so counter in process and reward. The fact is, I can’t do both at the same time. And therein lies the distinctive magic of each….

How to cook like a man

A few years back I read Daniel Duane’s book How to Cook Like a Man. I was intrigued by the title. The truth is, as I look back, the cooks I have most respected are women. While their gifts and technical skills were often admirable, what I came to value was their innate understanding of…

Fruit cake … with plums

I have a thing for apricots. Dried. Every week I buy a bagful from fruit-n-nut-man at the market. They’re not those dry, inedible nuggets you get in sealed plastic at Woolies. These are large, moist, succulent. I love them. A few weeks back I arrived at the stall to collect my stash. Fruit-n-nut-man smiled, looking…

Stephanie’s obsession

‘He’s obsessed!’ I heard a friend of mine described that way recently, behind his back. It’s a powerful tag. Most often it infers dysfunction. Proponents of that holy grail — work-life balance — paint obsession a failing, a roadblock in the pursuit of health and wholeness. But I do wonder, does obsession deserve a little more credit? I am…