Thursday, June 30, 2016


So – unless UK politics is even stranger than it currently appears (perfectly possible), and unless Boris Johnson is very, very clever indeed (Ian Hislop would argue otherwise), it seems that “the beast of Brexit” won’t be the next British Prime Minister.  Maybe he’ll be the one after that.

There’s been a quotation from Johnson floating around that I’ve only paid half attention to, which runs. "Left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain."
    I assumed he was denouncing the English working class, and he’d just got carried away and used the word plantain when really he meant potatoes.

But no, I discover that the line comes from an article of his in the Spectator, 2 February 2002, and he’s actually talking about Uganda and the dubious advantages of international aid.
“And don't swallow any of that nonsense about how we planted the 'wrong crops'. Uganda teems, sprouts, bursts with vegetation. You will find fruits rare and strange, like the jackfruit, hanging bigger than your head and covered with green tetrahedral nodules. Though delicately perfumed, it is, alas, more or less disgusting, and not even Waitrose is pretentious enough to stock it.
“So the British planted coffee and cotton and tobacco, and they were broadly right. It is true that coffee prices are currently low; but that is the fault of the Vietnamese, who are shamelessly undercutting the market, and not of the planters of 100 years ago. If left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain. You never saw a place so abounding in bananas: great green barrel-sized bunches, off to be turned into matooke. Though this dish (basically fried banana) was greatly relished by Idi Amin, the colonists correctly saw that the export market was limited.”  This is what matooke looks like:

It’s not clear to me whether Johnson has actually eaten matooke, or for that matter jackfruit, quite possibly he has, but as you see the internet is awash with pictures of him eating one thing and another.  Here he is about to eat camel (who doesn't love a good piece of camel?): 

Here he is eating octopus balls in Japan (ditto):

And here he is, for whatever reason, brandishing a bunch of asparagus, with handwritten commentary in the background:

Also, when mayor of London he launched the “one pot pledge” urging coffee drinkers to use at least one disposal coffee cup as a “mini allotment” and grow food at home or in the office.  This came after the environmental charity Garden Organic, estimated that 88,218 disposable cups were used every 15 minutes in the UK, which seems an odd way of putting it.

It is apparently possible to grow both bananas and jackfruit in a container, but I think you’d need something bigger than a disposable coffee cup. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Welcome to the Psychogourmet world of the sex vegetable - an ongoing series.  Bought at 

Vons supermarket just 3 days ago.

Tasty indeed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I see this image is doing the rounds.  

Is she taking Ambien maybe?  Sleep-eating is one of the many known side effects.  Still, she's only eaten half a wheel, and it’s not really all that big a wheel compared with, say, this one:

And in any case who needs an excuse to watch Homer simpson eating 64 slices of American cheese?

Monday, June 13, 2016


Here in the Psychogourmet test kitchen, we like cheese and we like Stonehenge, so obviously we especially like them when they come together, like this:

Yes, my local Los Angeles supermarket is selling smoked cheddar cheese with an image of Stonehenge on the pack.

Now, we all know that Cheddar is a fairly moveable feast when it comes to cheese.  This very same supermarket can also supply American, Canadian, Australian and Irish Cheddar.  They are all, needless to say, rather a long way from Stonehenge which is in Wiltshire, and this particular cheese was manufactured in Somerset by a company naming itself after Westminster - thereby offering a rambling  cheese tour of England.  The smoked Cheddar was OK, but no better than OK.

Incidentally Keith Richards doesn’t eat cheese, according to an old interview in GQ, he said “Cheese is very wrong.”  Let him and Mark E. Smith argue it out, I say.

As I’ve said before, I don’t really sit here in California craving English food. But I happened to be in Santa Monica last week, walking past one of those shops that sells “English fare” and so I bought a couple of pork pies.   

American made, I’m sure, and they were kind of OK too, though not as good as they looked, a bit rubbery and a bit tasteless, but at least they were there.  I found myself wishing I’d had some strong, vinegary pickled onions.  Jaded?  Moi?

Friday, June 3, 2016


Remember when people used to worry that we might be entering a new Ice Age and that the earth would become some giant ice-clad marble hurtling through space?  Well, I guess that’s one thing we don’t have to fret any more.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about ice – not planets but spheres – ever since I saw a bartender in Tokyo place a ball of completely transparent ice into a glass before pouring whisky over it: maximum surface area, minimum dilution.  At the time I thought the guy had carved it by hand from a giant block, using an ice pick, but I can’t actually guarantee that’s the case.  He may have been using a machine like this:

Since I don’t imagine myself to be much of an ice carver, and since I can’t afford one those machines – they cost about a thousand dollars - I bought a couple of moulds made by the Tovolo company.

They’re pretty much foolproof and it’s easy to get obsessed and fill the freezer up with spheres.  There are also tricks you can play: making the spheres hollow, then filling them with booze or smoke or aspic.

As you see in the pics, my spheres are by no means transparent and there are a few online sources debating how you achieve transparency, but I decided to go for minimum transparency and added food dye – black of course – for all your gothic cocktail needs.

And here’s the beauty part - put a black ice sphere into a clear liquid, say vodka, and it starts to “bleed.” Delicate black tendrils swim out into the booze.

But that doesn’t last, and before long the vodka is as black as your soul.

Monsieur Huysmans would have lapped it up.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


I was reading an old copy of the London Review of books, in which contained a Christopher Turner review of a book titled Pornotopia; An Essay on Playboy's Architecture and Biopolitics by Beatriz Preciado, who I understand has now transitioned to become Paul B. Preciado.

The review contained a quotation form the Playboy philosophy, about the extent to which the playboy is an indoors kind of guy.  "We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d'oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, and sex.”  I can’t believe that even Hugh Hefner wrote that with a straight face.

That of course sent me to look at some back issues of Playboy stored in the Nicholsonian Archive – specifically January 1980.

I can’t pretend that I ever bought Playboy for the articles though there’s a pretty good interview with Steve Martin in this issue, and fiction by Roald Dahl and John Le Carre.  In fact it’s hard to see why I ever bought it at all.

But on this occasion, I read it in order to mock the advertising.  Especially the drink advertising: an easy target I know but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.  Consider this one:

Those two people do look fairly happy with life happy and their booze.  The small print in the ad tells you not to waste your time adding vermouth – which I suppose is just a way of telling the aspiring playboy that it’s perfectly OK to drink neat gin.  And there is an olive in each glass, which I suppose indicates sophistication.

Now the couple above look even more sophisticated, though to my eyes they look a lot less happy, but that may be because they’re sitting in an empty restaurant and nobody seems to have offered them a drink.   And on second thoughts the hostility in their eyes is perhaps supposed to be smoldering sensuality.

Now, look at the ad above: say what you like about Champale there is at least some indication of racial integration in the ad.  They’re also drinking outdoors, which we’ve established is not very Playboy.
And finally there’s this, the Thermos Bartender.

Press the top and out squirts some liquid, go pick the symbolism out of that one fellers.  What you seem to get, if this picture is to believed is a martini, not shaken, not stirred, but pre-made and stored in a very unattractive 70s-style flask.  The drink looks kind of warm too.  But I suppose you could use it outdoors if you wanted to.

Mr. Hefner, drinking Pepsi, I imagine.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Only obsessing slightly over the movie High-Rise. Of course, famously we know about eating the dog and the “bottle of sparkling wine” smashing onto his balcony from above.

Above is Charlotte Melville in the movie, the dropper of the bottle, I think, played by Sienna Miller.  I guess she’s drinking a martini, though I’d have thought that was pretty unusual in London in 1975, even at swanky parties in Brutalist tower blocks.

Meanwhile, up on the top floor of the building Ann Royal, played by Keeley Hawes, the wife of the building’s architect, finds a more convincingly seventies drinking vessel.

And here is the best JG Ballard booze image I’ve ever seen.  I found it floating around on Pinterest – it says “saved by Kim Heybourne” but I don’t know if he or she devised the image.  I want one.  Now.