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…

On Paul Bocuse

” … a curious food man … With a chef’s hat full of wit, a sparkling eye, a light hand to lift his glass, he is a swashbuckler of the drip pans, a juggler of pots, and a poet of stews … He is a host of eternity, a kind of Medici of food. He…

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,…

Nigel Slater on cooking

“As I said, you don’t have to cook. You can get through life perfectly comfortably without lifting so much as a wooden spoon. Fine. Do that. What I want to say is that if you decide to go through life without cooking you are missing something very, very special. You are losing out on one…

Food as biography

Laura Shapiro’s book What She Ate demonstrates a fact: food provides a window into our lives. Indeed, food can shed light on issues of identity, longing, fear, and need. While biography may traditionally treat what’s on the plate as incidental, Shapiro’s work does not. “Food happens every day,” she argues. “It’s intimately associated with all…

Feast•Pray•Love 2018

Next week, here in my home city of Melbourne, is the opening of Feast•Pray•Love, an annual art prize and exhibition hosted by the church I serve as pastor. It’s an exhibition that invites artists to explore the deeper meanings evident in the sharing of food. This year’s theme is ‘a place at the table’ and has attracted…

Chocolate chiffon tart with macerated strawberries

My brother has hit the mid 40s. It’s hard to believe. Ben and I are the youngest of six boys and a more than a decade apart. I remember the day of his birth and those that followed like yesterday. I would hover outside the newborns viewing room at the Dandenong Hospital for hours at a time, staring…

Feast•Pray•Love

This week is the final week of the 2017 Feast•Pray•Love art prize and exhibition hosted by the Collins Street Baptist Church. It’s an exhibition that invites artists to explore the deeper meanings evident in our life at the table. Now in its fifth year, the exhibition is one I feel especially connected to, not only because it arises out of my…

‘Meredith’s’ ode to cooks

We may live without poetry, music, and art; We may live without conscience, and live without heart; We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilised man cannot live without cooks. He may live without books — what is knowledge but grieving? He may live without hope — what is hope but…

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…

Empanadas

I’ve never been to South America, nor to Spain. My first encounter with an empanada (from the Spanish verb empanar: to wrap or coat in bread) happened when I was living in Los Angeles twenty years ago. I bought one from a street vendor at Venice Beach. While the memory of the vendor is cemented…