Capon on Feasting

“Let us fast — whenever we see fit, and as strenuously as we should. But having gotten that exercise out of the way, let us eat!  Festally, first of all, for life without occasions is not worth living. But ferially, too, for life is so much more than occasions, and its grand ordinariness must never…

Capon on food as sacrament

“Food is the daily sacrament of unnecessary goodness, ordained for a continual remembrance that the world will always be more delicious than it is useful. Necessity is the mother of cliches. It takes playfulness to make poetry.” Robert Farrar Capon

Barnes on stove-splash

“In China it’s taken as a compliment if the table cloth immediately surrounding your place is, by the end of the meal, a site of major spillage. … The same principle applies — without any shadow of ambiguity — to cookbooks. The more decorated their pages are with stove-splash, peel-drip, edible Rorschach stains, oil starbursts, beetroot…

Conrad on recipe books

“Of all the books produced since the remote ages by human talents and industry those only that treat of cooking are, from a moral point of view, above suspicion. The intention of every other piece of prose may be discussed and even mistrusted, but the purpose of a cookery book is one and unmistakable. Its…

Mum’s sultana cake

Mum’s cake repertoire was slim. At one of end of things, there were those heavy fruit cakes stuffed full of dried fruit and spices boiled together; at the other end, her simple butter cakes in three varieties — plain, chocolate or rainbow — and covered with icing. To be honest, my natural love of cakes…

Double Chocolate and Cranberry Brownies

Brownies bake with an American accent.  Honestly, I never laid eyes on a local brownie until they were standard café fare twenty years back. As much as I hate to admit it, these glorious squares of fudgie goodness are an import. Given how good and right they are, I would like it to be otherwise….

White Chocolate and Macadamia Blondie

Purists are boring.   No doubt, my recipe for a White Chocolate Blondie will offend on two fronts. First, my cocoa obsessed friends sniff at the very mention of white chocolate. “You know, Simon,” they declare with tedious superiority, “technically, it’s not chocolate at all.”  It’s a “confection,” they go on to explain, as though…

Barnes on the virtue of recipe books

“Ah yes, your own recipe book. You will need some kind of small scrapbook or filing system for all those newspaper and magazine cuttings. Another word of advice: don’t stick them in until you’ve made the dish at least twice and know it has some chance of longevity. Such a cuttings book will, over the…

Gopnik on eating

” … gastronomy is the great adventure of desire. Its subject is simple: the table is the place where a need becomes a want. Something we have to do — eat — becomes something we care to do — dine — and then something we care to do becomes something we try to do with…

Berry on food as sacrament

If I ever talk of daily food as a sacrament — a visible sign of grace — there are those who raise their eyebrows in disbelief: parents of young children as they wipe up the pureed banana slops of the kitchen floor; or the one who struggles with an eating disorder and for whom food is…

Death and cupcakes

The old gold fields town of Castlemaine in central Victoria is where I go to write.  I stay in a bed-and-breakfast, always the same house, the same room.  It’s a simple space with a desk, a bay window and a view of the well-kept garden beyond.  Often there are other guests about, though I go to…

MasterChef and the kitchen table

Gay Bilson knows a thing or two about food. As a professional cook and restaurateur, she understands the world of fine dining and the sensibilities that drive those who cook for the top end of town. Her Sydney restaurants Bon Gout and Berowra Waters Inn are still remembered with acclaim. Now retired from the professional…

On food critics

Food critics can be a pompous lot. I have said before that much restaurant criticism is little more than posturing: ‘Look at me! Don’t I write well and with such culinary wit!’ The truth is, as one interested in food and restaurant culture, I find most reviews unhelpful. Granted, jealousy could be a factor. A prominent…

Hot tamales

So my son and I made tamales.  I met my first tamale decades ago. It was in Texas. I remember sitting with friends and unwrapping the steamy, soft, spicy pork cigar from its corn husk. It was good. Amazingly good. I credit that tamale with the gumption I found to chase a pretty Texan girl…

Turkey

“What a shocking fraud the turkey is. In life, preposterous, insulting — that foolish noise they make. In death, unpalatable — practically no taste except a dry fibrous flavour reminiscent of a mixture of warmed up plaster-of-paris and horsehair. The texture is like wet sawdust and the whole vast feathered swindle has the piquancy of…

A woman’s place?

“The dinner in its turn was highly admired; And Mr. Collins begged to know which of his fair cousins the excellence of its cookery was owing. But here he was set right by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her…

Bocuse on cuisine

“For art, there is no future, it’s the living moment, then it’s dead. That’s wonderful! Cuisine is like a fireworks display, nothing remains. It is une fete (a party), rapid, ephemeral.” Paul Bocuse (1926-2018)

Whitehead on cooking

“Cooking is one of those arts which most require to be done by persons of a religious nature.” Alfred North Whitehead, from Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, ed. Lucien Price (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954), 250.

Barnes on cooking

“Cooking is the transformation of uncertainty (the recipe) into certainty (the dish) via fuss.” Julian Barnes, The Pedant in the Kitchen, London, Atlantic Books, 2003, 94.

A radiance of friends

We have shared our table with friends these last few days. A reminder of its gift. DELIGHT by Michael O’Siadhail Let the meal be simple. A big plate of mussels, warm bread with garlic, and enough mulled wine to celebrate being here. I open a hinged mussel, pincering a balloon of plump meat from the…