This is the traditional post that appears every 3 months or so to explain my absence. But I really have got a good excuse this time – we’re buying a house, so the past 2 months has been occupied with viewing houses, estate agents, and more
recently with monstrous quantities of forms and documentation as we edge closer to exchange & completion.
Fingers crossed this will all be over soon, and then I can get back to my resolution to write more often (unless I get sidetracked by choosing paint colours, and putting up shelves…)
In the meantime, occupy yourselves with some other fabulous ladies of food:
- Clotilde Dusoulier‘s book, ‘Chocolate and Zucchini’ now has a UK publishing date – just have to wait for May.
- Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks has just had her second book published. Check out the wonderful, healthy recipes on her website (and the not-so-healthy).
- I’ve just finished ‘Julie & Julia’, which, like the books above, originated with a blog. I found a lot of familiar territory there – food, mad cooking until late at night, US food references, including Julia Child playing a central role, and a twenty-something girl who got married in her early twenties – sound familiar?? It’s very funny, and I romped through it in just a few days – highly recommended.
- Gordon Ramsay is apparently looking for ‘a new Fanny Craddock‘ for the 21st Century – and therefore has launched the ‘Find me a Fanny’ competition. Good lord.
I’ve actually been overdosing on Ramsay over the past couple of days – there’s an interesting interview with him in this month’s Waitrose Food Illustrated, and I’ve just acquired his ‘Just Desserts’ cookbook, which looks excellent, although I’ve not had time to try anything from it yet.
Many people criticise his aggressive attitude and apparent misogyny, but I am pretty sympathetic towards him. Firstly, he clearly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to both food and running successful restaurants, which gives him huge credibility. Secondly, I always find him very compelling to watch – he wants to raise people’s game in terms of cooking, and I think that’s a great aspiration.
He’s at the forefront of a general move to reveal the inner workings of professional kitchens, which started with Marco Pierre-White, and was hugely influenced by Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Kitchen Confidential’. Programmes like the F-word, the new Masterchef and (god-forbid) the dreadful Hell’s Kitchen are starting to make this difference more apparent to the general public., rather than just professionals and foodies. Having had a glimpse of what it’s like to work in a professional kitchen, I don’t think that Gordon Ramsay’s methods are particularly outrageous; although they are certainly shoutier than is completely necessary, they work for him. I think it’s hard to compare the atmosphere in a professional kitchen with most types of work or management – it’s much more akin to the military or emergency services than any office or retail work – much less important, obviously, but fast work, quick decisions and high pressure. It’s a very different proposition to cooking at home, even when you’re very skilled, and not for everyone.