I normally try my best not to spoil the stories I write about in this blog, focusing as I do on the moments where food is prepared and consumed, but as food in this short story really is the climax of the piece (as you may have guessed from its title), I advise skipping to the recipe if you wish to read “The Family Supper” yourself…
This is partly a response to last week’s post, in which I mentioned the dismal picnics in Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. In between bouts of exhausting up-river struggles in their made-for-purpose boat, the hapless trio manage to find themselves sustenance at every stop-off. None, however, with more (ominous) promise, than Harris’s scrambled eggs:
Harris proposed that we should have scrambled eggs for breakfast. He said he would cook them. It seemed, from his account, that he was very good at doing scrambled eggs. He often did them at picnics and when out on yachts. He was quite famous for them. People who had once tasted his scrambled eggs, so we gathered from his conversation, never cared for any other food afterwards, but pined away and died when they could not get them.
Eggs, done in any way, are very much loved in our household. But scrambled eggs are undoubtedly the domain of lazy Sunday afternoon brunches, preferably coupled with a few slices of smoked salmon and toasted rye.
A smidge of butter
A dash of milk
Salt and pepper
1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan on high. While the butter is melting, crack your eggs together into a bowl and whisk lightly together with the milk, salt and pepper until the yolks have just broken into the whites.
2. When the butter starts to sizzle, but not before it discolours, pour in the egg mixture. Immediately turn the heat to medium-high, and stir the mixture just twice. As tempting as it may be, do not start stirring or whisking the mixture at this stage – it will only result in a uniformity of colour and texture, neither of which are good things in scrambled eggs our friend Harris would approve of.
3. Once the egg mixture begins to set in the pan, you may start to lightly turn the eggs about. They’ll clump together in delightful eggy clouds.
4. When the mix has a small amount of runnyness to it, turn the heat off and let your scramble sit in the pan for a minute. The remaining heat will cook the last bit of the eggs to perfection. Serve with toast and whatever else you choose to accompany you the breakfast table.
I should have posted this last month, when the Hay Festival was in full swing, but life had rather got ahold of me!
Every year we go to the literature festival at Hay-on-Wye. It’s a thrilling place, and a must for any book enthusiast or collector. Taking place over 4 weeks, it offers all manner of events headlined by authors, poets, musicians, journalists, academics, politicians and screenwriters. As with any high-profile festival it’s absolutely packed with people, all of whom share that same warm joy of curling up with a good book.
A menu can embody the anthropology of a culture, or the psychology of an individual; it can be the sociology, psychology and biology of its creator and its audience and, of course, to their geographical location; it can be a way of knowledge, a path, an inspiration, a Tao, an ordering, a shaping, a manifestation, a talisman, an injunction, a memory, a fantasy, a consolation, an allusion, an illusion, an evasion, an assertion, a seduction, a prayer, a summoning, an incantation murmured under the breath as the torchlights sink lower and the forest looms taller and the wolves howl louder and the fire prepares for its submission to the encroaching dark.
And it’s from this deluge of highfalutin contemplation, that Lanchester allows his protagonist Tarquin Winot to emerge.
The Debt to Pleasure is structured by seasonal menus, with each quarter of the novel divided by a selection of foods typical of and appropriate to the individual season. Some of the best include recipes for blinis, Irish stew, queen of puddings (the first ever dish Tarquin learns to cook), bourride, peaches in red wine and a variety of curries. These menus and their accompanying recipes are the subtext for Tarquin’s memories: for our enigmatic protagonist it is food, not human interaction, that holds the power to provoke memory and emotion. In each dish, we find ourselves entering an increasingly uncomfortable world of Tarquin’s snobbish obsession.
Ruth giggled for minutes on end, until she had to leave the room, when he called a baguette a croissant.
There’s nothing like food – no more so than in post-war England – to set insurmountable divisions between classes.
She was used to certain dishes, and she had a strong conviction that she could not possibly eat anything else.
Fussy eaters top my list of general grievances.* It’s the principle of it all. There’s something either childish or bland about possessing an enormous roster of things never tried but nevertheless apparently certain to be unappetising. In Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, Gloria Gilbert is definitely the former. A self-righteous, prissy and opinionated snob, Gloria is any dinner host’s worst nightmare.
With all its darkly satirical glimpses into wartime Italy by way of numerous mishaps with both the mafia and the Vatican, you might be tempted to call Holy Smoke a ‘comedy-noir’. Continue reading Penne All’arrabbiata (Tonino Benacquista’s Holy Smoke)