Thursday, October 12, 2017


I’d heard about this place called LAX C – a Thai mega-supermarket on the edge of Los Angeles’s Chinatown.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect but the hunter/gatherer in me thought it was worth an expedition.  And it was.

It’s a somewhat bleak hangar of a place selling industrial-size buckets of soy sauce and boxes of squid parts and pig stomachs, which you wouldn’t need unless you were in the restaurant business, but they cater to the retail trade too.  If you’re looking for preserved duck eggs or Thai coconut rolls or durian flavor ice cream, then this is the place.

There’s a nifty fish market on premises: live lobster, belt fish and some mighty large oysters which at $9.99 a dozen were irresistible.  You can see them unopened at the top of this post.
         I couldn’t tell you their provenance – the fish guy and I didn’t share a common language - and opening a dozen of them at home was a bit of a project, but well worth it – they were sweet, creamy, mild, a bit less oceanic than most oysters but still darned good.

There were sausages galore, such as this pork and lemongrass one.  

Contents also included red curry, kaffir lime rind and shrimp paste – also heavy on the galangal for that authentic Thai taste.

And not least, LAX C is a place that sells pork blood – or Dugo Ng Baboy, if you prefer.  Yep, I see some black puddings being made in my near future.

Friday, October 6, 2017


I used to eat with relish the brains of beasts and fowls.  But with all this talk about prions and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and even as I understand that many of the dangers have been much exaggerated and in any case only apply to mad cows, eating brains no longer seems such an appealing idea.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t have brain-related fun.

See, I have this rubber monster head (above) which is in fact a jelly mould:

You open it up, put jelly in the brain pan, and a few hours later its set and you have dessert in the shape of a brain:

Those brownish speckles up at the top are cinnamon – there’s also a blob of rice pudding in there – hey, check out the symbolism!

You understand of course that in all this I am not trying to compete with the mighty Bompas and Parr – I know I couldn’t could.  Especially when they come up with stuff like this, seen recently on their Instagram – it’s Stir Fry Jelly:

They meet a better class of photographer than I do.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


“CUBAN PANINI - Tender shredded pork, mozzarella, grilled onion, mayo, pickle on a telera roll.”  And some fairly evil pickles – evil in a good way. 

At Birds, on Franklin Avenue.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Here for your consideration (as Rod Serling used to say) are two photographs.  The first is of Patience Gray, author of a number of books including Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia In this picture she’s in England having a picnic, not long after the war, sandwich wrapper on the ground, cigarette in hand:

And here’s Alice Waters, presiding genius of Chez Panisse restaurant, apparently having some sort of spiritual experience involving sunflowers:

They’re both in the news because of a couple of new books. One is Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray by Adam Federman. The other is Coming to My Senses: the Memoir of a Counter Culture Cook  by Alice Waters.

Gray is the far less well known of the two, an English food and travel writer who was the Observer’s first “woman’s editor.”  The blessed Angela Carter wrote that, “Patience Gray helped to instigate the concept of the cookery book as literary form – part recipes, part travel book, part self-revelation, part art object.”

A recent a piece in the New York Times said, “She has never expanded Chez Panisse to other cities, or jumped fully into celebrity in ways that could have promoted her agenda. Rather, she prefers to personally cajole every politician, journalist and philanthropist she meets.”  

I’ve been to Chez Panisse and had a very good time, but I can’t help thinking I’d have had a better time hanging out with Patience Gray.

After an ear-bashing from Waters, I suspect Prince Charles might feel the same way.