Thursday, August 23, 2018


Sometimes a man has to search long and hard before he finds the drink that entirely suits and expresses his personality.  Other times he just wanders into a Japanese supermarket and buys a beer, pretty much at random, and it gets him to a t.
And so it proves with Kawaba Sunrise Ale, or at least with the words on the label, in small print 

I’ll take a pass on the “malty and crisp” but “with mild bitterness” - hell yeah - that’s me all over.
Kawaba Sunrise Ale, c’est moi.

Monday, August 20, 2018


I was thumbing through an old copy of Gastronomica magazine and came across this staggeringly fine ad for Tryphosa jelly dessert.  

I had never heard of Tryphosa which apparently is also the name of a woman in the Bible, but the spelling is alarmingly close to Typhosa, which is a form of salmonella.  I suppose people worried less about salmonella back then.

The Tryphosa ad is in fact so great, shining with the light of Liberty, that it’s hard to imagine the taste could possibly live up to it.  Compare and contrast with the aesthetic aspirations of the current Jell-O pack.  Not so much to live up to there.

And I did find ads for a jelly dessert named Bromangelon (which sounds like a bromance between cro-magnons). Their use of imagery was more modest still. 

The fact is, when it comes to jelly, presentation means a lot.  When I was growing up, we had jelly all the time, although my mother only approved of strawberry flavor, and she made it in a Pyrex mold much like the one used in the Bromangelon ad and as seen below.  She never tried to unmold it, and present it freestanding. I assume she’d tried at some point, possibly before I was born, and she’d had more than enough failures.

         Of course the Pyrex was the problem, glass being a poor conductor of heat, so the classic move of dipping the mold in hot water to free the jelly inside wasn’t going to do much good.

I’ve been sniffing around looking for exotic and eccentric jelly molds.  Bompas and Barr are the bosses of this kind of thing, but theirs are bespoke, and in the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” category.

I did find the one below, which has its appeal, but it might offend more people than it amuses, even if you could say it’s an allusion to La Grand Bouffe.

I guess the real problem with jelly molds, as with my brain version below, is that they're amusing once, but only once.

But I did find one (I mean I found pictures of it online, it seems you’re unlikely to find one in the real world outside of a museum) that might be entertaining for quite a while

It’s a Wedgewood jelly mold in the shape of an obelisk.  What you’re seeing there is an an outer form and an inner core.  The latter sits inside the former, and you fill the mold with clear jelly – it has to be clear to show the pattern.  I think it might take quite a while to get bored with that.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


So I went back to Franklin and Company to have their waffle cut duck fries.  They were good, although you could easily have imagined something gamier and more duck-intense.  I suppose I was thinking of goose fat, which I know costs more than duck fat, though I’m not entirely sure why: roast yourself a goose and the fat just pours out - enough to   satisfy most of your fat needs for at least the next year.

Even so, it’s really it’s all about the potatoes, and my idea for a grand and quixotic book titled something like The Secret Life of the Spud hasn’t been completely abandoned.  And so, being the freewheeling researcher that I am, I Googled “potato+porn.” In a world of “food porn” and “ruin porn” I thought this might be quite innocent, and in the main it was.  

There’s even a (rather neglected) tumblr site:
It has very few words, though there are links to recipes and pictures like this one:

But the world being as it is, my googling also brought up quite a few pictures (more of men that of women) doing ill-advised things with potatoes – pretty much the opposite of eating them.  Here is a more decorous image (which I suppose is actually selling the handbag), by James Piatt and Ted Walton, though those names took some finding.

And I did discover that there’s a (completely unpornographic) Potato Museum in Munich - Das Kartoffelmuseum.  I’ve been to Munich – how did I miss that?  In that museum they have one of these things:

       It’s a ceremonial vessel, dedicated to, possibly in the shape of,  "Axomama" – the Andean potato goddess.  There’s a lot to be said about these things, and The History and Social Influence of the Potato by Radcliffe Salaman says a fair amount: human sacrifice and mutilation of the upper lip seem to have been involved.

       It now seems that I might not get to the Idaho Potato Museum, after all, so here’s a picture of their prime exhibit, what they say is the world’s largest potato chip, measuring 25 inches across - though in fact as you can see, it’s actually a giant Pringle: 

Now I’d have thought Pringles were so “constructed” you could make them any size you wanted. Why stop at 25 inches? You could have one ten feet across.  But more than that, the Honorable Justice Warren, British High Court Judge, has declared that Pringles do not met the legal definition of a “potato crisp” at all, since they’re made from potato flour, corn flour, wheat starch and rice flour together with fat and emulsifier, salt and seasoning, with a potato content of a mere 42%.  Quite right, Judge.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


I’ve been sifting through the Psychogourmet Archive and once again I saw this image which has been in the flies for a good few years.

It raises a lot of questions and I don’t have many of the answers, but it is, apparently, an image from a German propaganda leaflet titled Lightning News, dropped on Allied troops on the western front in 1944 – the leaflet is dated October 31st.

My source for this information is the website and an article titled “Sex and Psychological Operations” by Herbert A Friedman.

But the questions I have relate to the original source of the image.  First, I wonder where it's an extant photograph or one taken specially for this purpose.  And I wonder if it's German or American.  It would be good if we could read the labels on the bottles but the online image isn’t high enough res.  In either case, if it was extant, where did it come from?  Who was the photographer?  Who was the model?  Was it perhaps a “dirty postcard” – the nudity is explicit, but certainly not obscene, the model looks very cheerful and that message “Gee, it would be swell to be back home and mix a few cocktails with her,” seems quite mild by propaganda standards.

So many wartime propaganda images show the decent girls back home being corrupted and ravished by various kind of scoundrel; and of course anxieties of class, nationality, and race often come into it.  This kind of thing:

The lady on the couch has been besmirched, and willingly at that, if the message on the rear is to be believed, although the barman is still shaking merrily in the background.  He may of course be in the woman's fantasy.

Poking around the internet, doing various word and image searches, has left me no wiser about that Lightning News photograph, but I did find this image, one of a number, of Bettie Page behind a bar - no cocktail shaker in use.  It's obviously post-war, the hostilities are over, and what model has ever looked more cheerful, and less corrupted, behind a bar or anywhere else, than Bettie Page? 

Thursday, August 9, 2018


My pal Kevin Kinsella alerted me to a recent fad (I don’t think it’s quite a meme yet) on German Twitter where people are making sandwiches in the style of great visual artists.  Apparently it was started by a woman named Marie Sophie Hingst, with the hashtag #KunstGeschichteAlsBrotbelag. And others have joined in, as is the way with twitter.
Some are very literal indeed, just food cut into shapes to resemble works of art.   

But even before I clicked on the link Kevin sent me I was thinking of Mondrian and Rothko – and evidently so were others:

My own small addition to the genre is inspired by Carl Andre, top American minimalist, famous for his gridding, and it’s not a sandwich, but store-bought cheese tidbits arranged like this:

Of course, any work by Carl Andre would have been far more rigorous, far more geometrically precise, than my work, but then I suppose he wouldn’t have been using store-bought cheese tidbits

Monday, August 6, 2018


Food photography, it’s a funny old thing isn’t it?
      Here’s a rather wonderful picture of the “Housemade Potato Chips - gorgonzola and calabrian chili dip, parmesan, black pepper” at Stella Barra Pizzeria on Sunset Boulevard, in Los Angeles.

I didn’t take that picture, although I was there, and I did eat some of the chips.  It was taken by Lisa Jane Persky who’s a "proper" and very accomplished photographer.  And I know that if I’d taken took a picture of those chips, they just wouldn’t have looked that good.
Here is what photographer Ellen Auerbach had to say on the subject: 

And here’s one I did earlier, when I was trying to become the “Cheese and pickle doostep sandwich” at The Royal Oak Inn, in Woodchester, Gloucestershire in England.  I guess I failed in my becoming.  On balance I think that was probably for the best.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


I’ve been thinking I might go on a road trip to Idaho next month, and I suppose I must have googled a few tourists destinations, but I was still surprised (to the extent that anything about the internet surprises me anymore), that The Idaho Potato Museum in the town of Blackfoot, came up on Facebook as a recommended page. I was already thinking I might go there but if Facebook recommends it  … well …

The museum’s Facebook page contains this image: 

It’s one that many of us have seen before, and it's there because the museum has been asked to verify whether this is a bona fide picture of an Idaho Potato Queen.  Alas they can neither confirm nor deny.
These models are easier to authenticate – 

They’re on the 2015 calendar for the Bavarian Farmers Association.  The cast includes Bavaria's then reigning "Potato Queen," Kathrin Schoderer. This is her apparently:

And here for comparison is a picture of Marilyn Monroe in a very well-tailored potato sack.  The image is available at the Idaho Potato Museum on a fridge magnet.

I would have thought that an erotic obsession with potatoes is one of the more minor paraphilias and yet, and yet …

        James Johnson was an Englishman who went on a 5 day drug binge with some friends, earlier this year, and was eventually arrested while wearing women’s underwear and filling a hotel bathtub with potatoes at the Travelodge in Eastleigh, near Southampton.

He was prosecuted not for potato or underwear offences but for possession of MDMA, 2CB, and 5-MAPB with intent to supply.   In court, the judge asked Johnson why he’d done it and Johnson replied: “It felt like the right thing to do at the time,” which I suppose is the only reason why anybody ever does anything ever, illegal or legal.

While images of Mr. Johnson remain elusive, I have been able to find a picture of the Travelodge in question.