What’s the point of this blog? I suppose it’s to tell the story of my continuing journey through food. I am not a recipe developer, at least not yet, and tend to follow or adapt recipes from an ever increasing collection of cookery books. But I will describe what I cook, the successes and the failures and some of the ideas arising from my cooking. I’ll also talk about some of the restaurants I eat in. And I have thought – but this is before I have started – that I will occasionally focus on ingredients, suppliers and maybe even implements, and perhaps review the occasional cookery book.
In short, it will be about all my encounters with food. And drink.
There will be a bias towards starters, main courses and weekday suppers and less about desserts and baking. I have a bit less of a sweet tooth and it’s not uncommon for me to forego dessert in a restaurant. My wife, on the other hand, loves desserts and baking and tends to look after that part of our culinary life.
I am part of the generation in the UK that has experienced a food revolution. When I was a kid, food was simply a means to an end, and there was a pattern to the week: roast on a Sunday, leftover roast on a Monday, stew on a Thursday, fish and chips on a Saturday. My family was not especially interested in food, although my grandparents had run a greengrocery; given how many jobs she was trying to juggle, my mother was understandably more interested in finding the most convenient ways to feed us (and so the new processed food of the 70s and 80s was a blessing). We very, very rarely ate out – that changed when I moved away to university and pub lunches were a must when my parents visited – and I hadn’t had a curry until I was at university.
What changed? Three things. First, some close friends who cooked and could present the most magnificent dinners. Second, an interest in real ale led to an enthusiasm for trying to understand wine, and with that came a wish to match wine to food. And third, my awareness from the early 90s on of a developing food culture, with the TV chefs (Keith Floyd, the early Rick Stein and then Jamie Oliver) really having an impact. From then on, food and drink became my abiding interest.
I have also had the privilege of a professional life that has taken me all over the world and brought me close colleague and friends in many countries. Food and drink has often been a means to come together, a topic of conversation and at times a genuine shared interest. The result is that I have eaten in some truly special places – the sorts of restaurants that friends want to take you to.
In terms of my cooking now, my general pattern has been to spend a great deal of time cooking for Saturday and Sunday dinners – a starter and main both nights, sometimes some more, sometimes for just my wife and me, sometimes for friends. At times of great stress, that has been my single most important form of relaxation – as Matthew Fort once wrote in The Guardian, of course you don’t think about work when you’re chopping an onion because if you do you chop off your fingers.
For the last few months before starting this blog, I have been in the luxurious position of having a career break – long planned and much appreciated! This has given me much more opportunity to cook midweek too. That has opened up new cooking experiences for me.
There is no doubt that living in London makes this all so much easier. We have access to wonderful meat, fish and fruit and veg from brilliant traders, and we can source just about any ingredient that might not otherwise be readily available. Shopping, usually on a Saturday in the food markets of Bermondsey with Borough Market for anything we cannot get there, is as much a part of our food life as the cooking and the eating.
Wine also has an important role. If it was wine that brought me to food, now food and wine have a symbiotic relationship and (a couple of dry nights a week aside) I certainly can’t think of good food without wines that are as good a match as we can manage given our budget, circumstances and what is ready for drinking.
So what about the future? Well let’s see how this blog goes. Maybe there will be different ways of enjoying, buying and eating food and drink in the future, or other ways of engaging with the food community in London and elsewhere. We’ll see…