Monday, May 29, 2023


 It was John Constable who said, ‘Nature is the fountain’s head, the source from whence all originality must spring.’  And who would argue with John Constable?


I was having lunch in a garden, not my own, but the garden belonging to Penny who is in fact connected with the Constable Trust.


Photo by Caroline Gannon

And I was sitting at table eating home made strawberry ice cream when suddenly a wisteria petal flew in and landed atop the ice cream on my spoon.  It was a strange and perfect culinary moment.  Not fabulously original but an example of how nature and culture come together in Constable Country.


Photo by Caroline Gannon

Incidentally according to an article in Landscape Research, the year Constable died, 1837, was the year protein was identified, though Wikipedia puts it a year later.  Well worth knowing. 

This is a photograph of John Kendrew in more recent times with a model of myoglobin:

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


 Word is that Ferran Adrià, he of the restaurant El Bulli, the epicenter of molecular gastronomy fame, which closed in 2011, is about to the premises as a museum.  I like restaurants and I like museums but a food museum strikes me as tricky thing.

As far as I can tell, Adrià’s museum will consist of a lot of photographs of food, making it seem like a living Instagram, along with paintings by Adria, which from what I’ve seen are likely to make it look somewhat like a charity shop. Here’s some art he did earlier:  


But perhaps there’ll be art by other people too:


It appears there’ll be no museum café, and I don’t know whether or not there’ll be a gift shop.


Needless to say I never ate at El Bulli but my old late pal did Jonathan Gold  did, right before it closed, and reviewed it for the Wall Street Journal.  He compared it toYoko Ono’s art and an edible infomercial, which doesn’t sound as though he loved the place, but he talked about it on KCRW radio and I think his main point was it pays not to overthink what you were eating at El Bulli, which obviously is not going to apply in the museum.


Closer to home Bompas and Parr did very briefly, for about 3 months, set up The British Museum of Food, in Borough Market.  The museum's aspirations, they said at the time, were ‘to change peoples’ lives by helping them consider what they eat, spread knowledge around nutrition and health and to recognize its role in culture.’  Which sounds fair enough.  In 2016 the museum was looking for a permanent home, and as far as I know it still is.  I believe they have a very good menu collection.


In Japan there’s The Museum of Fruit, which I only know about because David Toop made a CD of music for the place. 


Originally I thought this must be some ironic conceptual art piece, but no, it’s an actual museum of fruit (kind of). The website says ‘Itsuko Hasegawa 長谷川逸子designed the Fruit Museum in the Yamanashi Prefecture near Mount Fuji in Japan, completed in 1997. The three shell-shaped buildings symbolize the “fruits” of spiritual sensuality, intelligence and lust. 

In a general sense, the buildings are trees producing fruits of creativity in the visitors who themselves will spread a sensitivity to our frail environment, and hopefully produce green buildings themselves.’

So no, not your average museum of food or anything else, but it does exist in the real world.

As most certainly do the two noodle museums dedicated to Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Food Products and inventor of instant ramen.


There’s one branch of the museum in Ikeda and another in Yokohama. The latter ‘offers the virtual experience of being a noodle in a huge factory, and going through the entire manufacturing process from making the noodles to shipping them.’

I think I might give that a miss and head for the tasting room. Yes this is a food museum where they actually give you food.  


And finally, I was thinking of the Brighton Pavilion, some way from being a museum of food but it’s the kitchen that I always remember best.  It looks pretty good as it is now, 

but it was probably more fun before it became an exhibit. 


 Facebook reminds me that 9 years ago I ate this plate/bowl of bangers and mash at the Blue Legume, Stoke Newington. Just like tucking into a pile of madeleines innit?


To be fair, I remember the sausages quite well – they were Cumberland - but I couldn’t possibly have told you the name of the restaurant, or that I’d put the picture up on Facebook.

Sunday, May 14, 2023


 You know, as I get older I think I ‘crave’ food much less than I used to, and crave of course is a very contested word.  What exactly is the difference between a craving and just being a greedy pig?


I mean I do sometimes really feel the need for a fried cheese sandwich (that’s grilled to my American readers) with baked beans, 


and if there’s fish and chips on the menu I’ll most likely order it, 


but do I actively crave these things?  I don’t really think so.


Anyway, I woke up this morning with what I’m prepared to say was a craving for asparagus and hollandaise sauce.  


You know, I think I was quite old before I ate asparagus.  I think it was ordered for me in a wine bar by a small time film producer who wanted to appear classy but didn’t want to spend much money.  


Well, the local Co-op is not a cornucopia of foodie delights but they had asparagus spears – (I’d have preferred them whole) and the hollandaise was in a packet that allegedly ‘serves four’ - they’d have to be rather an abstemious foursome.

Yeah, yeah, I did used to make my own proper hollandaise in a bain marie but you know, I had higher goals and expectations back then.  And slightly at a loss as to what to have with the asparagus, I saw that the Co-op, had smoked mackerel in the chiller cabinet.  Why not?


I can tell you that the asparagus comes form Hampshire and the mackerel comes from the East Atlantic which seems a big vague though the packing assured me it was responsibly sourced.  The packet of hollandaise comes from Pegasus Way, Haddenham, Aylesbury; so that’s OK.


And you know the packet of hollandaise with far less milk than they recommended and with a squeeze of lemon juice was much better than I could have made from scratch and above all, it may not have satisfied every synapse and tastebud but -- IT WORKED.  On the night, it hit the spot.


That’s what cravings are all about, right?

Wednesday, May 10, 2023



There’s an essay by Jonathan Lethem in which he says 

that every summer he goes on holiday, taking a Barbara 

Pym novel with him.  He says it doesn’t matter which 

novel because he can never remember whether he’s read 

it or not, and in any case they’re all pretty much the 

same.  This may sound like a complaint or a criticism but 

in fact he’s a big fan of Barbara Pym, as am I, and I know 

just what he means.


The other day I started reading, in fact rereading, Pym’s A Glass of Blessings.  To be fair to myself I did remember certain aspects of the plot and I saw that I’d dog-eared a page or two here and there so I must have read at least some of it.


The martini makes an honorable appearance, just as it does in Pym’s earlier Jane and Prudence, 1953, in which Prudence consoles herself by eating alone in a good restaurant ‘A dry Martini and then a little smoked salmon; she felt she could manage that.’ Pym capitalizes Martini.


I don't believe Pym's heroine looks even remotely like this.

Early in A Glass of Blessings, 1958, the heroine/narrator Wilmet Forsyth’s husband Rodney, known as Noddy (yes really), brings home a work colleague from the Ministry and busies himself making drinks.

‘I think I’ll have a dry Martini,’ says Wilmet.

‘Gin always gives me a dry mouth,’ says Sybil, who is Wilmet’s mother in law.      

        ‘You sure you wouldn’t prefer a gin and lime, dear?’ says Rodney to Wilmet, his ‘hand hesitating on the Noilly Prat bottle.’

        ‘No, I’d rather have French please,’ says Wilmet.


Some interesting nomenclature there.  Gin and lime is presumably a synonym for gimlet, French apparently a synonym for a martini or is it just for vermouth?


Later at some church social Wilmet observes ‘I myself seemed to belong to two very clearly defined circles - the Martini drinkers and the tea drinkers though I was only just beginning to be initiated into the latter.’

What a world in which Martini drinking precedes and supersedes tea drinking. That’s my world, actually.

Monday, May 1, 2023


Carrot humour:

Photo: Gannon Studios

And the face in the guacamole: