Thursday, September 22, 2022

EATING LIKE A KING (NOT CHAS 3, OBVIOUSLY)

 It was Stephen King’s birthday on September 24th– he was 75.

 

This is the trim and attractive (and possibly lean and hungry) picture he has on his website, taken by Shane Leonard.  Not a bad looking 75 year old:

 



The story goes that back in the 80s King porked up and was his doctor told him to lose weight.  Like any decent novelist he decided to turn his experience into a novel, in this case Thinner, written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

 

The plot as I understand it (I mean I haven’t read the book, though I do have some vague memories of seeing the film on TV) involves a fat lawyer who runs over and kills an old Romany woman. He gets away with it because of his connections but the woman’s father puts a a curse on him and he starts to lose weight regardless of how much he eats. This is a still from the film:



If you could patent that curse you’d have yourself a helluva start up

 

Anyway, I only knew it was Mr. K’s birthday because the blessed Anne Billson posted on Facebook these two fine images she took of Mr. K reacting to a fish paste sandwich at Brown’s hotel. (Thanks Anne).

 

 



He might have been happier with some of this:




Wednesday, September 21, 2022

CONTINUITY

 It was the weekend of the Queen’s funeral and I was in Felixstowe eating fish and chips in a pub.



I wish the pub had been called the Prince of Wales, but it wasn't. I’m not eating two platefuls – the other belongs to the photographer – Caroline Gannon. You probably worked that out.

 

Previously, between the Platinum Jubilee and the funeral I ate this Coronation Chicken sandwich, in Dedham.  It was good, if slightly over-toasted.



On the weekend of the Jubilee itself I was, partly, in a pub in Hoddesdon with winsome men of a certain age (though younger than me – Simon Poulter and Dr. Pete Gomes), and if the picture is to be believed I made do with a glass of lager.  Photo again by Caroline Gannon.



And today, as the memory fades, the local Co-op has started selling mince pies.  It’ll soon be Christmas.  Life, and the monarchy, goes on. 




Sunday, September 11, 2022

TROUBLE WITH THE FOOD GODS

 Following up from the previous post, I’ve been thinking about mushrooms.  

actually think about mushrooms pretty regularly.  Mushrooms are (very 

often) on the ground to begin with, so the five second rule obviously 

doesn’t apply there.  On the other hand, not all mushrooms are to be 

snatched up and eaten.




My friend Nick who used to be a hospital administrator, tells the story of a family – mother, father, two children - who came to the hospital complaining of stomach pains.  They’d been out foraging and had eaten some dodgy mushrooms. They were admitted to hospital – AND ALL FOUR OF THEM NEEDED LIVER TRANSPLANTS!!

 

This has made Nick, and me too, very wary about eating mushrooms in the wild.  I have a couple of books that supposedly help you identify them, and I’ve even played around with an app, but I remain unconfident about my identification abilities.  This, of course, has nothing to do with them being on the ground.

 


Above is one of the more melancholy photographs I’ve ever taken – at the seaside in Walton on the Naze.  This sad ice cream was just lying there on the stepped parapet at the seafront.  You know there must be a backstory, very possibly one involving some unhappy and disappointed child who dropped it.  Unless maybe the child was peevish and discarded the ice cream while having a tantrum. Also, I admit, the ice cream isn’t quite on the ground, but it’s definitely heading that way.

 

And just so you know that the food gods are there to punish you if you start feeling the slightest confident, yesterday afternoon, I knocked a tub of cream out of the fridge and onto the floor.

 


I know there’s no use crying over split milk, but couldn’t an exception possibly be made for split cream?

Thursday, September 8, 2022

THE FIVE SECOND RULE (NOT)

If you walk about ten minutes due south from where I live you come to a 

small public orchard, or anyway a small group of apple trees, planted I 

suppose in the interests of saving the planet. And there, at this time of 

year, on the ground are hundreds of apples that have fallen off the trees.  

I’ve been known to gather up a few of these wormy old fruits to put in my 

compost bin, and I’ve picked a fair number of apples off the trees and 

eaten them.  They’re crisp and a bit sour, and just the kind I like, though I 

couldn’t tell you the breed.



This reminded me of a recent walk I did, I did not very far from home, around some potato fields, where a good many discarded or rejected potatoes by the potato harvester machine, and could be snatched up from the ground, and they were, by me and my walking companions. Not the potatoes in this picture, obviously.

 



And OK, you may say, ‘Well of course there are edible things on the ground where you live, in a very slightly rural bit of Essex.’

 

And this is true enough, but a couple of weeks ago I was in London, in Spitalfields.some and there were ‘windfall’ potatoes to be had right there on the ground.  I imagine they’d fallen off the back of a lorry but they looked perfectly edible (apart from the odd one that had been run over) though I admit I didn’t swoop down on them.



And then, because I go around taking pictures of these things,  I remembered this perfectly good looking piece of bread, close to the rear tyre of a pickup truck in Los  Angeles. They have everything in that city!  But again I didn’t forage it.




Wednesday, August 31, 2022

STEW

Want to see what my stew and Yorkshire pudding looks like?

Well, what harm could it do?



Friday, August 19, 2022

JARDIN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS, AND BARGAINS

 No doubt, like me, you’ve been reading about the efforts to get young people in Japan to drink more alcohol.  And no, I have no idea what the guys the picture below are drinking. Milk?  Ouzo?

 


Well ere’s my plan – reduce the price!

 

My local supermarket had a couple of bottles of Adnams Jardín Mexicano Gin on sale, ‘reduced to clear,’ down from £32.95 to £17.79. Of course I would never have bought it at 33 quid but at £17.95 I thought it was worth a punt.

 



The label says, inscrutably, that it’s an ‘Avocado and botanical gin’ and that singular through me for a while. Just the one botanical?  But the Adnams website explains that it’s made with juniper and angelica, so far much as expected, but then, ‘There are also warming notes of cinnamon from Cassia Bark, a punchy woodiness from the Mexican herb, Epazote and a smoky hint of Chipotle Chilli in the background. The addition of Coriander leaf and Mexican Oregano (which is related to Verbena) and Lime Peel created the underlying citrus freshness, much like that found in Mexican salsa.’ 

 


A first taste test suggest they may be exaggerating its specialness - though I think I detected some hotness - but it tastes fine and hey, it’s alcohol and it’s cheap (ish).

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

THE SANDWICH COLLECTOR

I’ve often mocked the idea of the ‘sandwich recipe.’  I mean, you take some food that you like and you put it between slices of bread and that’s really the only recipe you need.

 


And yet and yet … this hasn’t stopped me forming (even curating) a small collection of sandwich books – many of them American, so there’s a lot of recipes for BLTs, Reubens, Po’boys and so on. And to be fair there is the occasional recipe in these books that I couldn’t imagine inventing, let alone eating, such as, in Sandwich Exotica, ‘the peanut butter-sardine and potato salad-lettuce on rye.”

 

So when I saw in the local charity shop the Encyclopedia of Sandwichesby Susan Russo, photography by Matt Armendariz, how could I resist buying it?

 



It’s American again – and contains such gems as how to make a ham sandwich – bread, ham, mustard or mayonnaise. Yes, really.

 



But hold your horses - there’s a recipe in there for a potato chip sandwich (that’s potato crisps to the British) which the author describes as ‘a crunchy salty guilty pleasure.’  I don’t generally do guilt when it comes to food, but in fact the potato crisp sandwich does strike me as slightly shameful.

 

But here Susan Russo comes up with a variation I again would never have dreamed of – ‘creamy peanut butter, 2 slices of white bread, 4 to 6 dill pickle chips, a layer of your favorite plain potato chips.’

 



Well that sounded kind of dubious, so of course I had to make one.  I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a dill pickle chip so I used sliced pickle gherkins.  And I would probably have used crunchy peanut butter but the recipe called for creamy, so I went with smooth.  And I didn't have any acceptable white bread.



 





How was it?  It tasted just fine.  But I do wish I’d used white bread, and I think it would have been better if I’d used twice as much of all the contents.  All my own fault. We never stop learning about the sandwich.