Monday, March 20, 2023


 ‘I’m an offal man’ declared Bear Grylls in a headline in the Times on Saturday.  Personally I find this about as interesting and newsworthy as learning what Bear Grylls does in the woods, but that's just me.

I was far more interested, and amused, a couple of years back, to see the picture of him above, eating a frog he killed and cooked in a Bulgarian National Park. Apparently this was illegal and he ‘faced a fine’ though I can’t find any information on whether or not he actually paid one.


Having grown up with at least weekly dollops of liver and tripe, massively overcooked my mother who really didn’t care about food, it took me a while to develop the taste for offal when I left home and became a bit of a foodie.


Of course I’d read my Ulysses and I was all in favour of eating the inner organs of beasts and fowl, either with relish or preferably with a splash of wine and a squeeze of lemon.


But the first time I ate devilled kidneys was in a restaurant in Perth, Western Australia, and I knew I was in a good place because Maggie Fitzgibbon, best remembered (if she’s still remembered at all) as the star of the soap opera The Newcomers, was eating there too.


Those Australian devilled kidneys were great - and of course I didn't take a picture because you just didn't in them days, and I’ve tried with varying degrees of success to cook my own, and although I don’t cook a bad devilled kidney I don’t really cook a great one.  Recipes vary, but there’s no great mystery about it – you coat your lamb kidneys in seasoned flour (paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, that kind of thing), then fry them up with Worcestershire sauce, sherry, maybe vinegar, and most often they’re served on a slice of bread or toast.


Mine usually taste pretty good but the problem I find is that I think raw lamb kidneys are a thing of exquisite beauty 


whereas when they’ve been cooked they can look a bit nothingy.


Of course that’s no reason not to eat them, but I do wish I could retain there basic beauty.  Still I can live with it.  Food can be very good without being photogenic.  There is a life outside of Instagram.

    And here are some I made much earlier, in California since you ask.  Devilled kidneys - consistent in at least three continents.

Friday, March 17, 2023



You know I’ve long thought that what the world needs is an eccentric, obsessive,  borderline crazed, 1000 page book about the sandwich. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to convince anybody, least of all my literary agent, that this is in fact what the world would actually be grateful for. 

But what about the potato?  Now here’s a subject surely crying out for that kind of treatment. 

Above and below is a minute sample of the stuff that would be in this stately tome, which is currently in a file in my hard drive, simply marked ‘Potato Madness.’

Friday, March 10, 2023



I had a dream the other night that my friend Kirsty had invited me to a party, and all the guests had to come bearing potatoes.  This was a strange thing to dream, since Kirsty doesn’t look like one of the world’s great potato eaters.


I think the reason for the dream was that I’d been thinking about Henry Cueco, a French artist and writer who among many other things painted portraits of potatoes.  


He did lemons as well 

But it’s the potatoes that really move me.


He also wrote a book, untranslated into English as far as I know, titled Le journal d’une pomme de terre, 

in which (I think given my poor French) he imagines himself to be a potato. This is my own dodgy translation, with some online help:

‘My poor mother was not, strictly speaking, a potato. Yet I often dream that I am sprouting, my body covered in manure and earth, blissfully budding. My father was not familiar with potatoes, his preferred starch was rice. I never saw him look carefully at a potato, although he was interested in the voluptuous forms of women. ‘


There’s just something about potatoes. They have character, personality, they have eyes, and (especially if you draw on them) they even have faces.

It almost seems a shame to eat them



Wednesday, March 8, 2023


When did this happen? When did comparatively modest restaurants start serving their chips/French fries in little metal containers or baskets?


I ask this because I went to a couple of places in Suffolk at the weekend, and they both served their chips that way. This was the Boardwalk Restaurant on the pier in Southwold


This was Satis House, in Yoxford.


I’m sure Heston Blumenthal has a lot to do with it.  Once you’ve made a big thing out of triple cooking your chips you want to show them off.


Obviously it looks kind of classy, but there can be problems. A metal container can hide a multitude of sins, and less reputable establishments can put their broken, under or over cooked, generally less visually attractive odds and ends at the bottom where they lurk unseen, at least initially. Though of course that doesn't happen with a basket.


And I suppose the arrangement is here to stay. You can buy the little containers at Ikea – only 4 quid a pop:

Am I being pathetic if I say I'm tempted?  And I ask myself, are my chips worthy?


Monday, February 27, 2023


Tim Hayward has been writing on the Drake’s website (no, not Drake the Canadian rapper).  

It’s actually an article about the Fergroni at St John, but before he gets to that he says, “When I order something as simple as a Martini, I don’t want something with a ‘flavour profile’ curated by a couple of blokes who once did something promising in the City, I want Tanqueray Export and Noilly Prat because that’s what Hemingway, Parker and the rest of the Algonquin crowd drank to get seriously fucked up.’


And here is a cartoon in the New Yorker by the beloved Ros Chast:


And here is what I think may well be the best cartoon in the history of the New Yorker, in the history of the martini, and very possibly in the history of the world, by Henry Martin.



Tuesday, February 14, 2023


 Sad to hear that Julian Wasser has died, although he was 89, and I hope somebody somewhere is doing medical research into why so many photographers live so long.


Like everybody else I’m mostly familiar with Wasser’s wonderful, we might even say ‘iconic,’ photographs of Didion, Duchamp, King, et al (seen surrounding him in the picture above); but in fact he seems to have photographed just about every celebrity who lived in or passed through the L.A. area.


He was a very long way from being a ‘food photographer’ and yet food imagery does crop up here and there in his work.  As in these pictures of Canter’s Deli, and the Tail o'the Pup:

But looking through his photographs now I found one I’d never seen before, this one of Mick Jagger eating a sandwich.  It takes a bold rock star to be seen eating a sandwich, but then that’s Mick all over, isn't it?


And here is a photograph of Wasser himself, in a photograph taken by Diana Mara Henry.  Sure you got enough food there, Julian?



Thursday, February 9, 2023


I just watched an episode of ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’ the one where Jerry Seinfeld’s guest is Steve Martin. They end up in the Pleasantville Diner, in Pleasantville, New York.

Martin orders the egg salad sandwich, which as Seinfeld points out, is a bold move for a man who’s being filmed. He could easily end up with egg on his face.  Martin manages as well as anybody could.

But the sandwich itself is truly amazing.  The camera goes into the kitchen so you can see the sandwich being made, and I’ve never seen a sandwich with such a generous portion of egg salad: two whole scoops. I don’t know if this was just done for the programme, maybe they serve smaller portions when the camera’s not on them – I do hope not - but it was a great moment.


And then having formed a dome of egg salad the cook drapes a curved canopy of lettuce leaves over the top so that the egg stays in place.  It’s a triumph of sandwich architecture and mechanics.

Monday, January 30, 2023


You know a lot of people say to me, ‘Geoff, what’s the secret of being a Cutting Edge Mixologist?’


         And I reply that all you have to do is take all the weird booze you have left over from Xmas, put it in an ice-filled shaker with a dash of this and a twist of that, and before you know it you’ve got yourself a Cutting Edge Cocktail.


Photo by Caroline Gannon

         In the above case the contents are home-made plum brandy, (not made in my home), some pineapple liqueur (Licor de Ananas), and gin, which is not strictly speaking weird or left over, then a squeeze of lemon and a dash of Angostura Bitters, shaken with ice and there you’ve got one helluva drink.  


Now obviously I’m not saying this is a unique or previously undrunk concoction – people can and do combine anything with anything, but the nearest extant recipe I can find for a drink like this is the Flying Dutchman as described in Jim Meehan’s The PDT Cocktail Book – which is a very good book indeed, though Meehan’s version includes maraschino liqueur which I would go a long way to avoid. 

In fact there are quite a few cocktails with the name Flying Dutchman that aren’t much like Meehan’s recipe or mine. So I’m going to call mine a Flying Nicholson.  


I think it’s a one off because I used up all the weird leftover Xmas booze and I don’t think I’m ever likely to have those same ingredients in the house, and in any case I’ve more or less forgotten the proportions.  So as Jim Webb and Richard Harris put it, ‘I’ll never have that recipe again.’


Incidentally, the Electric Room in Manhattan serves, or anyway used to serve, the Richard Harris Cocktail, made withJameson’s whiskey, Ginger Snap Liqueur (which I’d never previously heard of) apple juice, lemon juice and sugar syrup.  


Sounds and looks all right but on balance I think I might prefer a Flying Nicholson.

Friday, January 27, 2023


I think you know about my sandwich obsession, and there in the Book of St. John (not the biblical one) on page 259 are these words ‘creating a sandwich is like jazz, you must find your unique sound.’


Well this raises a lot of interesting and no doubt ironic questions.


I tried to imagine some of my favourite jazzers eating sandwiches: Miles Davis, John and Alice Coltrane, Derek Bailey, John Zorn.  I don’t doubt that these people ate sandwiches at some point in their lives, but they were far too cool ever to be photographed doing ir.  Eric Dolphy of course recorded ‘Out to Lunch’ but history doesn’t tell us what he ate while he was out.

Charlie Parker is definitely eating something below.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s pretty definitely not a sandwich


The Book of St John reveals that ‘Fergus will always order the Egg Mayonnaise sandwich from the chalkboard bar menu and request the addition of brown shrimp or anchovy; or langouistines which he asks for on the side to shell and apply himself.’


Well, my access to brown shrimp and langoustines is limited but I do usually add an anchovy or two to my egg mayonnaise sandwich, as seen in the photograph at the top of this post.

Here's a picture of Fergus Henderson with a sandwich, but I believe it's got bacon in it.


Tuesday, January 17, 2023



By Alex Raymond

I was reading, actually rereading Barry Gifford’s story ‘My Last Martini.’ in which his narrator 


‘Two martinis don’t ordinarily affect me other than to provide a feeling of false elation that I treasure for the thirty minutes it lasts.  I rarely exceed my usual limit of two, however; an excess of elation, I’ve found, puts the world around me in a light so unflattering that I’ve been tempted once or twice to make an attempt to extinguish it.’


This is Barry Gifford:

Anyway in the story the narrator orders the fatal third martini, meets a woman, buys her what is also her third martini, and then complications ensue, though not the ones you’d expect.


In Lowell Edmunds book Martini, Straight Up (which is probably the best book ever written about the martini and nah, I don’t want to argue about it) he describes the paradoxes of the martin; that it’s both a solitary and a social drink, masculine and feminine, melancholy and celebratory.  Damn right.


Here are some pictures of people drinking martinis alone and together, in various moods.