Sunday, December 15, 2019


Like I said, I went to Cornwall, and had a Cornish Pasty in St. Ives.  This one:

The ‘L’ in the pastry stands for lamb, and I know that lamb is not an authentic filling for a Cornish Pasty. The shop where I bought this one also sold steak and stilton pasties, which I thought I thought sounded OK, but would have been even less authentic.

But this would the least of it – other shops were selling unthinkable variations: Red Thai Chicken Curry! Chicken, Bacon, Chirizo!!

Later that same weekend, eating at the Seven Stars pub in Stithians I was hoping a Cornish pasty would be on the menu, so I could order one for compare and contrast purposes.  I was disappointed but settled for the turkey and ham pie, which was no less of a pasty of than some of those others.

Still I think the real culinary adventure I had in Cornwall was buying a Cornish Hogs Pudding from RJ Revarthan, Wholsesale Butcher and Livestick Hauliers.  And for those who like to know about local sourcing and provenance the label even had details of where the hog was slaughtered – at the Roskrow Abattoir, Roskrow, Penryn.

When it was cooked, the hogs pudding looked like this:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Hands across the religious divide, in Premier Halal Butchers in Walthanstow.

Thursday, December 5, 2019


If you’re like me, by which I mean (among other things) not Canadian, you may not be familiar with the taste, the look or even the name of Labrador Tea, Nordic Juniper, Crowberry, or Cloudberry. These are Canadian Botanicals, and now, to a strictly limited extent, I’m familiar with all of them.  These along with some other things – Wild Rose Hips and something called Artic Blend - are ingredients in Ungava Canadian Premium Gin.

There was a little cardboard sleeve around the neck of the bottle I bought, telling me about those botanicals, along with some tiny black and white images.  Here they are in colour: see if you can tell which is which. 

Ungava is, apparently, an Inukitut word meaning ‘towards the open water’ and Ungava was a district in the Northwest Territories subject to changing boundaries and administrative status.  It no longer exists as far as I can tell, though there’s still an Ungava Bay.

The gin is incredibly yellow – hence a prime candidate for ‘a yellow, a mellow martini’ (per Ogden Nash) even without vermouth.

Though, just in case, Ungava also make a Vermouth called Kayak.  It contains, you guessed, Canadian botanicals.

Monday, December 2, 2019


In the post-Warholian universe, a large part of the artist’s job involves pointing at things.  Another large part involves framing.  Of course, pointing is easier than framing and here I am in the Photographers’ Galley in London pointing at a 1992 photograph by Hannah Collins titled Sex 2, Plural/Wet.  

The wall text, which I’m standing in front of, has things to say about oysters’ similarity to female genitalia, which struck me as a tiny bit old hat.

The exhibition is rather good and is titled Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography largely based on the book of the same name (or maybe it’s the other way round) which I reviewed for the Los Angeles Review of Books: here:

It’s strange, given my love of oysters, that the Hannah Collins image didn’t leap out at me from the book.  On the wall it’s amazing.  And let’s face it, it’s hard to photograph oysters well.

But this is something I go back and forth with.  Sometimes books seem the best way to look at and appreciate photographs, sometimes it seems you have to see them on a wall. 

Still, the one part of the exhibition that really needs to be seen in the flesh, or at least in glossy laminate, are these Weight Watchers cards:

 Over the years I’ve known quite a few people who’ve had success with Weight Watchers, and the system does apparently work for some people, including my own former GP.

Even so I can’t imagine anybody I know tackling the majority of the recipes on these cards, though I certainly do wish someone would tackle the Aspic-Glazed Lamb Loaf and invite me round.

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Just for the sake of completeness, here's Angie Dickinson with a (rather small) slice of avocado.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Well, I tracked down some avocados at the Tesco Metro, (I mean it wasn't exactly an expedition) and a can of lump crab (i.e the white stuff) at the Co-op – a squirt of mayo, some lemon juice, a bit of seasoning and I was ready to go all Sylvia Plath:

It tasted fine and there was no food poisoning: so win, win.

And I did a bit more avocado research. It seems they were a tough sell in Britain partly because of the name ‘avocado pear.’  People assumed that since it was called a pear you could just bite into it, like a pear.  Some education was required and provided.  This is Australian:

I also discovered from Alan Davidson’s Oxford Book of Food that one of the first Europeans to eat an avocado was Fernandez de Oviedo (spellings differ) 

who ate it with cheese, as though it was an apple.  Other Spaniards added sugar, which I suppose made it more like a pear in certain respects.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


I remember my first avocado very clearly.  At my college you were assigned a tutor who was responsible for your moral and emotional welfare.  This included, and was pretty much limited to, inviting you round to his house for dinner with him and his wife, once in the entire three years.

And we had an avocado salad starter. At least I was pretty sure it was. I’d heard of avocados, might even have seen a picture of one, but I’d certainly never tasted one.  Obviously I didn’t want to humiliate myself by asking what I was eating, and in retrospect I do know that it was avocado.  It tasted good, even if it wasn’t quite the exotic sensation I’d been expecting.

These days I don’t eat avocados as much as I used to – and I’ve never eaten one on toast - but right now I’m in the middle of reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar – published in 1963 but set in New York in 1953, a time when I’d have thought that very, very few people in Britain were eating avocados.  Of course everybody else already knows how great The Bell Jaris, but I was especially taken by a scene in which the heroine goes to a fancy lunch and has an avocado filled with crab meat.  Something like this, I imagine (thanks LoveofCooking):

I was reading the book in bed last night and it sounded so good that I thought, first thing tomorrow I’ll be off down the shops buying an avocado and some crab meat (the latter in a can, no doubt).

But then I read on and it turns out that the crab gives ptomaine poisoning to everybody at the lunch. Plath is also great at describing the strangely mixed pleasures of throwing up.

To be honest this did blunt my appetite a bit as I fell alseep, but by the afternoon of the next day I was feeling strong enough to go down to the Co-op and buy an avocado or two.  I arrived there  - and they didn’t have any.  Is it possible that the avocado in England has become SEASONAL?