23 October 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

FAY MASCHLER
ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD

ABANDONED MAN

A man accustomed to being cooked for is a helpless thing.  Abandoned by his cook, either temporarily or permanently, his first instinct is to find someone else to make his meals.  This conditioned response may be because women, from his mother onwards, have not only spoiled him, but woven an air of mystery around cooking.  They have whispered of barding and basting and double boilers.  Like cats, they have spat at frying pans to test the heat or, in apparent ungovernable rage, flung strands of spaghetti at the wall to see if they would stick.  The whole performance, from the shopping that seems to require arcane and distressingly female talk - phrases like a pound of skirt or a bag of Desirées - to choosing the one dish of the thirty available , that in some talismanic way his cook will have decreed the only one suitable, could have made a man craven in the kitchen.
  On the other hand, he may just have been arrogant and idle or simply not interested.  But friends will soon tire of providing for him and he must turn to the fridge and stove and think conscientiously about cooking for himself and for others, because nothing is more lowering than too many solitary meals, and a man left to cook for his children will find they grow fractious on uninterrupted junk food.
  Men who cook, particularly those new to the activity, want to make dishes that either have the quality of immediacy, or ones where alchemy in the oven will transform them.  Men, on the whole, are not good at diddling about waiting for one thing to happen before proceeding with the next.  For this reason, a stew which can be left alone to cook for hours and requires no cosseting is a favourite.  Most men, even abandoned ones, believe it improves with keeping and that it can be jazzed up with curry powder and raisins towards the end of its life.  This is not so, although the sauce of a stew does mellow when it is cooked on one day, heated up and eaten the next.

Cooking for Occasions


Man Peeling Potatoes by Harold Persico Paris

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