Monday, 1 December 2008

Food thoughts.

I guess that I could rightfully claim to being a pretty obsessive foodie. From consuming the finished product to growing my own and raising it too, in land dwelling days. I love cooking, eating and sharing the results of a particularly successful foraging expedition! But most of all I love Cookery Books!

Until we gave up our house in the UK I had an enormous collection of books, spanning a life long interest in the culinary arts... Even back in my school days I could be found poring over an original edition of Mrs Beeton in the school library-must have been there since the inception of the place back in 1850. It wasn't the sort of book we were encouraged to read, no way intellectual enough.

However I found the old books bought history alive for me. I would attempt to make some of the old dishes from Hannah Glasses's book, written back in the mid 1700's. Mastering syllabub, an Elizabethan desset, a dish I still produce from time to time here on the boat!

I was pleased that my daughters kept many of the books I had collected, they are both great cooks, but it broke my heart to get rid of so many. We still have a pretty fair collection on board, I tend to read them like novels and always enjoy rereading Elizabeth David or Alan Davidson.

My mother was a great cook, back in the sixties we were already blase about duck a la orange, prawn cocktail and black forest gateaux. Dad was a bit of a gourmet, regularly rescuing me from my rather uninspiring job in the local chemist to join him for lunch in the towns best restaurant. Ah the sophistication of my first Chicken Kiev, served with plain boiled white rice and half a canned peach!! The excitement of Steak Diane as it was flambeed at the table in a blaze of brandy fumes...

TBH and I were recalling some of the greatest meals we have had the privilege to consume yesterday. The jog for this conversation came from an email received from an old colleague, reignited through the publication of TBH's new book. He reminded us of the superb dinners that we shared from time to time in London. Well true they were amazing, especially as they were funded through the company expense account and we were able to indulge our wildest gastronomic fantasies in the name of sourcing new business....

TBH began by recalling our favourite, Chez Nico, a somewhat exclusive french establishment in the west end of London. Unbelievable quality and presentation served in elegant and sophisticated surroundings. The tasting platter of bite sized examples of their dessert menu was to die for. Sadly Nico has long since retired and the place no longer exists... But as we began to recall other experiences we realised what a varied bunch they were, from the glamour of big cities to the rural charm of small European backwaters.

The Sunday brunches in Chicago, I have never seen so much food! Fish lip soup in China Town and fresh grilled corn on the cob from a tiny vendor by the road in Grenada.

But you know its some of the meals that we have enjoyed in our cruising life that are the most outstanding memories. After a long, and hairy, passage from Gibraltar to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands we went to the Yacht Club in the marina for dinner. Foie Gras, suckling pig, excellent local white wine. It was magnificent. Until it made a reappearance at midnight- too much rich food, too fast, oh dear a mistake that I have tried not to replicate!

Our first hamburger after crossing the Atlantic, first Roti. I could go on but you'd probably get bored with my reminisances.

But you just can't beat those wonderful Caribbean afternoons as you settle in to a new anchorage. Anchor well set, boat put up safely and the days catch of Wahoo ready to be consumed. Best of all a plate of ocean fresh sashimi, tongue tingling wasabi paste, warming pickled ginger chased down with icy cold white wine fresh from the cold box...wonderful.

The luxuries of life truly are the simple things....

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