Sunday, 27 February 2011


Love it loathe it.  Personally, I love it. Thinly spread over warm toast with butter.  What's not to like? Umami to the nth degree. And I was given some marmite chocolate to try a few months ago.  Sounds horrible.  T'was delish. But I was breakfasting with six Germans, one Dutchman, a Norwegian and a lady from Kenya last weekend and I saw their reactions. Good grief.  International relations had never looked so rocky. Moues of distaste rocketed around the table.  They had to be distracted by a 7 mile muddy walk and a country pub, where thank goodness, Harvey's ale redeemed the taste buds. 
Books can be the same, I know.
Lord of the Rings? Well, I'm with CS Lewes.  'Not another f****** elf?" he was reported to have uttered as Tolkien read aloud another chapter to the prestigious Inkies.  I struggled through it when I was about fourteen I think, only because it was the book at school and it was too dreary to have to pretend that I had read it when I hadn't. Oh dear. Hobbits Schmobbits. Who cares? Yes, I know it was all about Nazi's and evil spreading over the land, but really... I also felt the same about Melvyn Peake. Smike.  Gormenghast (which I do think about every time I go past Lancing College, which isn't that often) what a sprawling turgid page turner that is. Awful.  Just awful. The TV adaptation was just abut bearable, but even that... Other massive bestsellers have left me cold too. But then of course, others that have never been out of print can still grip me.  Forever Amber? Oh, yes please... the attention to detail, the account of the plague, the theatres, the royals, the inns and the streets of London have me gripped every single time.
Some bestsellers, just like Marmite, provoke a strong response.  Which is about the best an author can hope for.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mucho Macho Chefs

Well, yes.  And what red blooded female doesn't? Fancy 'em.  That's what. When Gordon stripped his chef's whites off down the corridor on The F Word to that music, I always gave a little grin, and a frisson of pleasure rippled over me.  Swearing? check.  Rude comments? Check.  Battered charm? Check.  Then there was the Christmas special.  Oh dear.  We saw him in his kitchen being all dadsy with the kids.  No. Really.  Leave that to Jamie.
But of course the Grand Fromage of the lot was surely Anthony Bourdain. When I first read Kitchen Confidential I was cooking on gas. High octane.  No protective oven gloves, so to speak.  Phew.  It was that good. Reckless and fast and furious.  What a bad boy made good, and through food.  I mean, what's not to like? Nothing.  Not in my case anyway as I've (along with countless others) have a soft spot for the rogue, and a rogue, let's remind ourselves, who COOKS.  Wow.
So it was with huge delight that I turned to Medium Raw his follow up. Hmm.  Well. I persuaded myself to read it again, carefully this time, instead of chomping through it like a starving woman on a diet let loose on a groaning buffet table. Yep, it's OK.  But.... there's a bit too much of whining going on for me.  Poor man.  Travelling round the world to his chosen location so that he can be filmed for his US TV shows.  No one understands the pressure.The TV people don't get it.  The food isn't as good.  The ego becomes super sized. But - there are still some wonderful sickening moments.  The description of the forbidden (and therefore hugely enjoyable) illegal meal of ortolans, the visit to a mafia ridden Russian restaurant are first class, but it certainly doesn't have the fire that I needed. He's mellowed, married, has children, has stopped smoking.  He's changed. But we haven't.  We still long for the bad boy. Come on Anthony - live a little.  Just for us. Pretty please?