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…

The Devil in the kitchen

A couple of weeks back I noted the connection between food and sin in religious art of the late Middle Ages — clearly the business of eating was riddled with spiritual pitfalls. It’s hardly surprising, then, to see the devil commonly cast as a cook. This 13th century mosaic set in the grand dome of…

Colman Andrews on restaurant critics

“Being a restaurant critic is sort of like being put out to stud. There’s no denying that the basic activity is highly pleasurable, but when you have to do it when and with whom somebody else tells you, it loses a lot of its appeal.”  Colman Andrews, Everything On the Table: Plain Talk about Food…

Point on skinny chefs

“Whenever I go to a restaurant I don’t know, I always ask to meet the chef before I eat. For I know that if he is thin, I won’t eat well. And if he is thin and sad, there is nothing for it but to run.” Fernand Point (1897 – 1955) was the French chef and…

Since Eve ate apples

“All human history attests That happiness for man — The hungry sinner — Since Eve ate apples, Much depends on dinner!” Lord Byron Don Juan (1823) The depiction of food in art is telling. In travels to Europe, I’ve been taken by the prevalence of food in great artworks of religious history. Clearly, it’s more…

Coffee

Coffee A shot of energy A lure to wakefulness A breakfast essential A pit-stop on the way A waft of civility A place to go A break in the morning A reason to sit An excuse to linger A lubricant for conversation An opportunity for gossip An expression of taste A moment of beauty A…

Tea

“Tea! thou soft, thou sober, sage and venerable liquid … thou female tongue-running, smile-toothing, heart opening, wink-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moments of my life, let me fall prostrate … “ Colley Cibber, The Lady’s Last Stake, or The Wife’s Resentment: A Comedy, 1797.

Apple dumplings and a pure mind

“Coleridge holds that a man cannot have a pure mind who refuses apple dumplings. I am not certain but he is right.” (Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia, 1823) Englishman Charles Lamb was an essayist and poet of the early 19th century. His friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was also a philosopher and theologian and…