Tuesday, October 19, 2021

WOULD ANYONE?



Personally I have never judged anybody for what they eat in bed.

Monday, October 18, 2021

THE PRICE OF COCKTAILS


 
Mr Price is in the house



If you live in Manningtree, as I currently do, and even if you don’t, you may well be aware that this was a centre of operations for the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, played in the movie by Vincent Price. 

 



There are so many reasons to love Vincent Price, for his acting primarily, but also for his art collecting and his gourmet skills, including authoring a few cook books, usually with his second wife Mary:

 





These are well known but only recently did I find this wonderful series of adds with Price as a spokesman for, would you, believe Angostura bitters

 



And you know, Pink Gin is really just a martini without the vermouth.  The two editions I have of the Savoy Cocktail Book both instruct you to use a shaker and strain the cocktail into a conical martini glass but last night, to do honour to Vincent, I made one on the rocks.

 


However, regardless of how much I honour the man, I resisted the urge to cook hot dogs cooked in Angustura.  You have to draw the line somewhere.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

CHATTO DESPAIR

 ‘No worst, there is none.’ 


That’s the opening of Gerard Manley Hopkins' sonnet, referring to depression, spiritual 

crisis, weltschmerz, and so on.



 

But it’s a phrase I often think of while eating a sub-standard sandwich.  By which I mean I’d never say ‘This is the worst sandwich ever’ because you know there’s always likely to be a worse one just around the corner.

 

I was in the tearoom at the Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead, Essex – as a matter of fact Hopkins was an Essex lad too, born in Statford when it was still in the county.

 

After a circuit of the Chatto grounds we headed for the tea room and my eye fell on an egg mayonnaise sandwich, which I bought.  It was only when I got to the table, inside the artisanal polytunnel, that I noticed the bread was gluten free.

 



I'm no bigot and this didn’t bother me until I tasted it, at which point it bothered me a lot.  The 'bread' was like a cross between cotton wool and dry cardboard, insubstantial yet thoroughly unpleasant.  Why would anybody make a thing like this and call it bread?  It wasn’t fooling anybody.

 

If you like bread you’re not going to like 'gluten-free bread' just as if you like alcohol you’re not going to like 'alcohol-free gin.' Making some gluten-free substance that scarcely resembles bread at all, is no solution.

 

‘My cries heave, herds-long’ as Gerard said.

 

The egg mayonnaise inside was perfectly fine though, so the sandwich could have been a lot worse.

 

Friday, October 1, 2021

TREE OF KNOWLEDGE


It was Apple Day in Wormingford, Essex.

 



You had to get some apples – take them along to the Community Education Centre in Wormingford where you, or somebody, cut them into quarters, then they went through a coarse chopper, 




then into a big old press which liquidized them, and then eventually you had a bottle or two apple juice.  Best to take your own bottles.

 





The word was that you only had 24 hours to drink the juice before it went off  so a little cocktail-making was obviously required.

 



To be honest with you, apple juice and whisky (seen above) wasn’t all that great a combination - you could taste both the apple juice and the whisky but they never really combined and melded, a bit like Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler in the movie The Bounty Hunter.



And then we tried apple juice with vodka which of course was just fine because most things are OK when they’ve got vodka in them. 

 


I think I shall call this the Nick and Kylie – as in Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue – the ingredients are both OK, you’re not quite sure what they’re doing together, but the end result is a winner.




(Pics are mostly by Luna Woodyear-Smith, except for the ones that obviously aren't)


 

 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

TUCKING IN

 


 


Did you see the headline in the Times, ‘Diet of meat left Crusaders fit for battle’?  

 

Below it there was a short item about research by Gleb Zilberstein, described as an Israeli scientist, which claims that when the Crusaders took on the Muslims, attempting to reclaim Jerusalem in the 12thcentury, they had an advantage because of their diet. This is ‘proved,’ according to the research, by the presence of Crusader food fragments that have been found on ancient pottery. 

 



By this theory, the Crusaders, under Richard the Lionheart, ate mostly lamb, pork and cheese with very few carbs.  The Muslim armies, led by Saladin, ate mostly carbs, fruit and veg.  According to Zilberstein’s researches, this made the Crusaders slimmer and more ‘cardio’ than the Muslims, which is an explanation for why, according to some accounts, Saladin lost ten soldiers to every one of Richard’s.

 



This seems rather a grand theory to be based on a few food traces on ancient pottery, though I don’t doubt it pays to be a thin soldier rather than a fat one.

 



But a little of my own research reveals that in Sahih Bukhari - the collection of sayings and deeds of the Prophet Mohammad (pubh) - the Prophet is reported to have said, ‘The best of the people are those living in my generation, then those who will follow the latter and then those who come after them. Then there will come after them people who will be treacherous and will not be trustworthy, they will bear witness without being asked to do so, and they will vow, but will never fulfil their vows, and fatness will appear among them.’

 

I’ll just leave that there, while I go off for some pork and cheese.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

SKULLS AND HEARTS

 You know, a lot of people say to me, ‘Geoff, where can I eat  lamb heart while staring at a skull?’ And although I’m sure there are many answers to that question, after last weekend, I can say that the cafĂ© at the Garden Museum, in Lambeth is absolutely fits the bill.

 

The lamb heart looked like this:

 



The skull looked like this (and yes I do believe that’s a hydra next to it):

 


In fact the skull and hydra are on the Tradescant family tomb in 
the museum’s inner 
courtyard, aka the Sackler Garden.

 



Now, of course, depending on your point of view, the Sackler family may be considered worse than Satan, because of all that OxyContin business.  Families, eh?

 


But the garden is doing fine.

 

                                        



 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

THE BULL IS IN THE HEART

 As often as not you can tell a book by looking at its cover; that’s kind of the whole 

point of a book cover.

 

We could debate whether this also applies to potato crisp/chip packets.

I mean, could any anything live up to a packet like this?

 


Is it a bull playing a guitar?  Or is it a human guitarist who’s been changed into a bull?  I honestly can’t say, but I do like it.  The crisps inside looked like this:

 



They were perfectly fine.  Not quite as intense and full on and reminiscent of a minotaur as they might have been, but perfectly fine. 

 



The Superbon website says, ‘Superbon crisps are produced in the Madrid region, home to the beating heart of the crisp world: the Chueca district.’

 

I didn’t even know the crisp world had a heart.