Sunday, 9 April 2017

Meat and two veg

Or two veg and one meat, or six veg and no meat, and preferably as un-messed-about-with as possible.
I was fascinated to read Jay Rayner's review of 'Le Cinq' in Paris, a gastro-palace the likes of I am very unlikely to step inside even if I did win the pools which again is highly unlikely as I never do them.
If I did win them, or went out to celebrate the publication of my latest book and its handsome advance ;o) I would probably choose a good Indian restaurant or perhaps somewhere very beautiful with a menu of say forty pounds a head, or perhaps just the small fish restaurant I went to with my son the other day where we sat on a covered terrace looking over the sea and ate lovely fish that still looked like fish.
When did all this farting about with food really start? In the 70s? Nouvelle cuisine, I suppose, but then I just looked that up and Wiki told me that N. Cuisine was actually a movement away from over-faffed food - simpler, fresher, less rich ingredients, etc. So the stuff in eateries such as Le Cinq must be a combination of the two: old classic/ haute cuisine and nouvelle - rich sauces, marinades, gold -leaf, aspic droplets, stuff hanging off bits of other stuff and/or balanced precariously/sizzling, on fire, dry-iced and so on.
When I worked in a 'French restaurant' in Farnham in the early 80s, there was a lot of piddling about with food: placing small bits of meat on top of a carefully sculpted potato with a crescent of sauce, etc, but it still was generally food that you could recognise unlike some of the oddities in Mr Rayner's photos and other over-elaborate messes I've seen while trawling Google for Michelin signature dishes.
Then there's the cost . . . Which would you rather eat?
This fresh fish salad with goat's cheese which cost fifteen euros at the afore-mentioned sea-side restaurant.


Or this depressing lamb thing at a price of ninety-five euros


                      Jay Rayner iPhone photo

Okay, their overheads will be a little different - small town in Southern France compared to a spot on Le Champs Elysees but there must be a happy medium . . .

My favourite part of Mr Rayner's review - the bit about the chocolate pud:

A dessert of frozen chocolate mousse cigars wrapped in tuile is fine, if you overlook the elastic flap of milk skin draped over it, like something that fell off a burns victim.


And it's true. My son turns grey at the sight of milk skin, and I don't think most people find it that appetising, so why drape it (or leave it in a rumpled heap) on some dessert that was probably going to set the diner back sixty odd quid? The subtle use of an edible flower or a nice honest blob of clotted cream instead? But then what do I know? I get excited about a buttered and Marmited crumpet or home-made coleslaw. You eat to live, not live to eat . . .

Love this line I happened to read this morning in Will Self's Psychogeography Too tome:
'Food is just shit waiting to happen'.

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