Saturday, 8 April 2017

Chocolate babka at HONEY & CO; Passover, food and memory.

Honey and Co

Food memories. They're possibly the most powerful memories we have. There's some science behind it - our perception of food is primarily streamed through our nasal olfactory system, a region of the brain closely associated with long-term memory. But beyond the biology, food memories form such a large part of our own life story, they cannot help but evoke a potent sense of longing and reminiscence. The weekend roast. Our first sip of wine. School pudding. (I didn't say all memories had to be good, mind you!)

When we recollect a food memory, we are remembering a time in our lives that food made meaningful. Alternatively, food memories may emerge because of their association with a particular person, place or time. However they became, whatever their provenance, they're then woven into our tapestry of experience and assimilated into our own life story. And there they remain, little nuggets that we stumble upon again and again.
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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Turkish Eggs at THE TAPA ROOM; Travels in Tonga, Time & Space (pt 3)

Providores and Tapa Room

May I present to you the Polynesian legend of ‘The Octopus and The Rat’.. Some legends tell of intrepid heroes and dastardly villains, and their epic duels across space and time. Some tell of deceitful deities, and their tricks and schemes to bewitch humankind. Some tingle the spines of wide-eyed children, and some devour the hearts of brave but stupid men. Some make you laugh. Some make you weep. Some inspire nostalgia. And some make you glad to be alive.

But this one doesn’t.
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Friday, 3 March 2017

Lamb-heart agnotelli at 108 GARAGE; Travels in Tonga, Time & Space (pt 2)

108 Garage

The year was 1773; Captain Cook, the esteemed explorer of yore, stepped ashore the fabled Tongan island of Lifuka. So enamoured was he with the locals and their exuberant entertainments, copious feasting and general revelry - the like of which he'd ne’er seen before back in Blighty - that he graciously bestowed on them the title ‘Friendly Islanders’.

Somewhat ironic - for his hosts were actually planning to chop him into bite-sized portions and serve him up as pre-dinner canap├ęs. Luckily for Cook, the scheme foundered when they couldn't agree on the finer details, such as whether Englishmen go well with ketchup, or whether they're best served as a small-plates sharing concept.

Nevertheless, the term ‘Friendly Islanders’ has stuck forevermore. And indeed, it's been gratuitously appropriated by the most unlikely local services (like Friendly Islander Vasectomies - ‘we snip with a smile..’) But despite their panache for canny marketing slogans, underneath lies an irrefutable generosity, something I increasingly discovered during my med-student placement on these fair isles.
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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Ceviche at CEVICHE; Travels in Tonga, Time & Space (pt 1)

Ceviche


Let's cut to the chase. Ceviche. Raw fish dish. From Peru. At a renown London venue, also called Ceviche. Ah ceviche! My dish for the road. Cue tangential preambles to travels in Peru. Such a beautiful country! Such amazing adventures!

Like the time when I inadvertently became a marauding alpaca herder on the High Andes. That was so fun! And of course the time when I went to the airport with a consignment of coca-leaf tea for grandma - she loved a nice cuppa, bless her - only to discover that it's apparently highly illegal, and two burly Customs officers and one cavity search later, suddenly found myself in a dank Peruvian jail for a period of several months, rescued only after I grassed up a fellow inmate, a notorious gangster by the name of El Diablo, whose fierce henchmen still continue to track me down, which is why I now live incognito as a food-blogger. Well, what a lark that was!

And then the time when.. oh, you know what, just screw it. I've never been to Peru, okay? I can't keep this pretence up any longer. So here's the thing - instead of Peru, I'm gonna write about somewhere else, a country that also does ceviche, a place I've actually been to..
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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Grandma Beryl's Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup


In so many ways, Grandma Beryl was the matriarch of our family and a wise dignified figurehead. She was almost always immaculately turned out, her hair a halo of wispy-white cotton-candy with not a strand out of place. Her elocution was invariably poised and precise, graced with a slight Mancunian lilt, and as mellifluous as any a Radio 4 presenter.

Through the best part of ninety years, us children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would congregate at Grandma’s each week, her home bursting alive with the sighs and squeals of newborn babies, the pitter-patter of toddler feet, children trampolining on the sofa, kids taking penalty kicks in the lounge, and grown-ups sporadically crying out “Mind the ornaments!, all accompanied by the constant clang and clatter of cutlery and plates as they materialised on and off the dining-room table.
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Winter has come; Where there's light there's HOPPERS


Hoppers

“The White Witch? Who is she?”
“Why.. it's she that makes it always winter. Always winter, and never Christmas..”

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis, 1950.

"At this moment you should be with us,
Feeling like we do.. like you love to
But never will again.
I miss you my dear, Xiola.
I prepared the room tonight with christmas lights,
A city of candles…" 
Three Days, Jane’s Addiction, 1990

My childhood winters were cold Northern affairs. Stretching across the horizon, the distant Pennines lay dark and brooding, looming over Bury like a dormant dragon, its arched back frosted with fairy-dust snow. There, we'd take our sledges and run them down those Lancashire slopes, fast and true: the icy air stinging our watery eyes, the sledge barely skimming the snowy ground below. We were Peter Pan, we were Tinkerbell.
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Friday, 25 November 2016

DIP & FLIP, Donald Trump, and what's left of the American Dream?

Dip and Flip Donald Trump
As American as apple pie. So the saying goes. But really what's more American than the hamburger?

In that meat patty lie redolent images of cattle herded over epic Mid-Western landscapes by sun-scarred cowboys. The cheese as flat and enduring as the emerald Wisconsin pastures it was milked from. And if you put the bun right up close, well you can almost hear the murmuring of wheat swaying in the Wyoming wind. In fact, why not just unscrew a Coke right now, put on some Springsteen, and let's hit Route 66 in an ol’ open-top Chevy, for this post is pure 100% Americana.
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