All posts tagged: Food

Dining with strangers: the joy of Supperclubs and my incursion as guest cook

Nude white walls frame the long dining room, their bare elegance and few minimalistic decorations give it a rather Scandinavian atmosphere. Music and home-made delicacies pour from the open kitchen, the black piano becomes another dish on its own and in that perfect canvas magic happens: hungry strangers in a stranger’s house have come together to break bread, enjoy life, discover and even make friends for life… if only for the night. Underground counterculture has always been the other side of the main stream coin. Supper clubs are a response to the formality and blurry uniformity of restaurants, their existence is based on the three basic needs: to eat, to socialize, to explore. Foodie startups are no doubt a deliciously sophisticated form or anarchism, supper clubs have been around since the last century, secret dining societies gather at private houses either by invitation or pre booking and enjoy home-made meals while strangers become friends. Miriam’s Kitchen Table is located in the green outskirts of Huddersfield in Brontë country, where she has been creating tasty memories for …

Transmutation of food. Thoughts on Crenn and Redzepi

I often find myself reflecting on what’s behind and beyond food as a cultural process of creation and consumption, beyond our place in the food chain. We constantly disrupt the natural states of raw, fresh, dry and rotten to transform food and ingredients to every limit imaginable. For the past days I’ve been doing some cross-reference reading between Dominique Crenn’s Metamorphosis of taste and UK WIRED’s article: Noma’s taste of Tomorrow, without any deliberate effort I saw many connections between the way both Redzepi’s and Crenn’s approach and relationship of food. For neither becoming a celebrity chef was a goal in their lives, like most true geniuses they simply navigated towards it [food] as a means to manifest their creativity. For Redzepi the transmutation of the environment and its elements isn’t limited for their edible qualities or their natural physical state (s) -but for both-cheefs creative freedom is a very structured and deliberate exercise of perpetual experimentation. The self-imposed restrictions -for the case of NOMA– to only work with regional ingredients forces the team to …

Bake your pie and eat it

For the unaware visitor, Pie & Mash is a picturesque, stereotypical, generic British dish, however it is neither generic not ubiquitous. But Pie & Mash are indeed a most beloved institution in east London where this working-class staple was both a weeknight meal and also a weekend treat. In victorian London, eels and other river animals were fished for food, many ended in pies served with a generous portion of “mash” that is mashed potatoes with a pool of either beef gravy or green sauce called liquor, made with parsley and the flavoured with eel stock.  Other classic fillings include minced beef or pork. Pie & Mash shops became a social hub where friends and families would meet and socialise over a pint of ale and a hearty and affordable meal. Then again fried chicken, kebabs and pizza shops have displaced many “Chippies” (Fish & chips shops) and Pie & Mash shops, but there are still some that are very much alive but will only continue to do so as long as they’re still relevant …

Lessons from Mumbai: Dabbawala old school fast food

For anyone living in a western country, poor or developed we all have to at least spend some portion of our money and time in a lunch break. It is estimated that in Britain the sandwich industry contributes around £7.85bn to the domestic economy. However if you are disciplined enough to prepare your daily lunch box or -even better- have someone else to prepare it for you, you will be saving some good money at the end of the year, apart from the obvious benefits of ensuring a healthy meal. But let’s face it, however fancy your average lunchbox will hardly exceed two items, perhaps a sandwich or a salad and a snack or a fruit. Now what would you think if I told you there’s a place: Mumbai, where working people (often bureaucrats –and mostly men-) have a daily delivery, literally to their desks of at least 4 different courses plus nan, chapatis or other bread to accompany their meals. All hot, all freshly made. Usually by their wives but also by specialized businesses …

A little dinner before the play

By Agnes Jekyll Here’s another grerat title from the Great Food Penguin Series a great mix between snobbery literature, food and etiquette. Although many of these texts were articles where recipes are incidental each piece indeed an essay that flirts but not quite turns into a memoirs. They’re too edited and polished to feel that intimate Cooking should always fit the occasion and temperament which is an interesting idea when you think of it, a very romantic way to translate one’s feelings, the surrounding environment and even the weather and into a meal that echoes and blends those features. I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that much as we learn more about this fascinating woman. Agnes Jekyll was Scottish artist, journalist and writer. She married Sir Herbert Jekyll brother of the very famous landscape and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll . Agnes was quite actively involved in the artistic scene of the time, she was a generous patron of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and close friends of Ruskin, Burne-Jones and Browning. Amongst her most recognisable works are …

Sandwich. A global History

Bee Wilson Reaktion Books Edible Series   This little book is part of the series that includes titles that explore the history of foods such as soup, cake, wine, cheese, pie, sauces, etc. you will be able to read it in one go with a nice cup of coffee.   The size of the book speaks for its depth, it doesn’t mean to be an encyclopaedic study but just an entertaining and well documented history of the humble sandwich. Some of the aspects that the author explores are how this food came to be and why did it root so deep and fast across social classes, cultures and proved its resilience through time and still stands strong as the default and most beloved on the go meal. Its convenience, reliability, endless possibilities of filling and portability are just some of its best features. A sandwich however also testifies the shifts and changes of our dietary habits, routines and ways in which we have had to cope with the demands of our modern life. A sandwich says the author necessarily carries …

Farts, tinned food and famines. Food. The vital stuff. Granta #54

On the previous post I reviewed two texts by J.M. Coetzee and Joan Smith who talk about vegetarianism and anthropophagy amongst other things. This time I’ll make a different exercise and make a parallel analysis of Margaret Visser’s The sins of the Flesh, Laura Shapiro’s Do women like to cook and Amartya Sen’s Nobody need starve. The starting point for Visser is that anthropology has taught us that most human groups have evolved to regard meat availability as a triumph of civilization. Wars in general and WWII in particular had many deep impacts in food technology, especially for preserving and preparing food. In modern times when everything occurs at an increasingly faster pace, women as Shaphiro notes have had extra pressure to cook faster using these products, but “faster” doesn’t mean “better” and it has ended up translating in a decline of culinary expertise. In the past centuries famines in the western world have been isolated and rare but in the developing world is a harsh and very real threat as Sen analyses. Curiously famines are …