The innocence of peas

“In the vegetable world, there is nothing so innocent, so confiding in its expression, as the small green face of the freshly shelled spring pea. Asparagus is pushing and bossy, lettuce is loud and blowsy, radishes are gay and playful, but the little green pea is so helpless and friendly that it makes really sensitive…

The happiness of garlic

“It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking.” Marcel Boulestin

The immortality of cheese

“A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.” Clifton Fadiman

The nobility of pizza

“Nobody is king when we eat pizza. Nobody carves, nobody gets the best bit, there is no point on the circumference from which the most succulent cut is taken. … Born amongst the Neapolitan poor, gathering to its self the culinary traditions of the whole world, the modern pizza is, for all its shortcomings, the…

Music and dinner

“Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.” G.K. Chesterton

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…

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…

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…

Slater on what makes food good

“And don’t let anyone tell you that the food is the only thing that matters. That’s rubbish. Where you eat something, who you eat it with and what you do afterwards is just as important. Eating is a whole package, not just what is on the plate. Food always tastes better in the right place,…

A bellyful of oysters

In 1798 I was at Versailles as a commissioner of the Directory, and had fairly frequent dealings with Monsieur Laperte, who was secretary to the tribunal of the department. He was extremely fond of oysters and used to complain of having never eaten enough of them, or, as he put it, ‘had his bellyful of…

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…

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…

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…

In defence of the epicure

“The epicure is not a man who thinks of, and lives for, his belly alone; he is not a sensualist for whom dinner is merely an elaborate prelude to sexual passion; he is not a hedonist who sees life as a succession of pleasurable sensations obtained by hook, crook, or levitation … He is simply…

Raymond Tallis on hunger

“The complex history of humanity and of our individual lives is most essentially the history of our hungers, and our endeavours to satisfy them. Our accidental and accident-prone lives begin not with a cry of joy, or surprise at our existence, but of need. From our first breath to our last we are enclosed in…

A monk and a pig

The 18th century Frenchman Grimod de La Reynière is said to be the father of modern food journalism. He certainly told a good story. He had one about the “subtle Capuchin”, a monk with a quick but less-than-subtle wit. He was taunted by a group of youthful rascals who provided a spit-roasted suckling pig, warning that whatever…

Johnson on his belly

“Some people… have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it that he that does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.” Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was an English poet, essayist,…

Memory in the kitchen

In the most recent issue of the wonderful Bread Wine & Thou is a beautifully written piece by Melbourne writer Ramona Barry. In it she recounts her journey with cancer and its impact upon her family’s life at the table.  It is an extraordinarily moving piece, and there is really nothing to do but go…

Gopnik on taste

‘None of us can escape the web of competitive, cyclical, counterintuitive, imitative relations that shape the social role of taste. There is no privileged space from which we can look down and say, Your tastes are trends, my tastes are truths. All taste effects depend on contexts. The smell in our nose changes the taste…