Good Food Blog
That don't impress me muchPosted at 2:35PM, 15 June 2010 by Joanna Cary - Food blogger
There's something dispiriting about finding the words 'serve your guests' in a recipe.
If it's a chef writing - and Raymond Blanc is a particular offender, albeit in an alluring French accent - the chances are the recipe won't be much good for a domestic kitchen, particularly when there's an invited audience to see your every shortcut or mistake.
There's only half an hour between getting home and your friends arriving expecting dinner, which makes the puddle of four-hour jus a no-no
Chefs forget that there's no underling to prep and clear, that the storecupboard may well not contain quite that many flavours, and that there's only half an hour between getting home and your friends arriving expecting dinner, which makes the puddle of four-hour jus a no-no. Lobster curry with tamarind, roasted coconut, ginger and coriander, anyone? It's Skye Gyngell, there's a list of ingredients as long as your arm, including 'four very fresh, live lobsters'. Instant recipe for a totally stressed-out evening.
On the other hand, if it's a cook's recipe - say, Delia, Nigel or Nigella - then you often get the sort of gussied up food that is inimical to good eating, the sort that is supposed to impress visitors. I give you 'Duck breasts with pomegranate and mint' (Nigella's 'perfect dinner party' recipe, since you ask). There's a strong hint that it's okay not to cook unless there's an audience, that it's okay to eat ping pap from the microwave-via-the-supermarket when nobody's looking.
One of the best meals I've ever been served by a friend was scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon and a little salad. Literally everyday food. But: eggs and greens from the garden, home-baked bread, salmon caught and smoked by her husband. She wasn't trying to impress, she was sharing what they would have eaten had we not been there. It was more hospitable than any amount of prissying around with exotic, half-understood fashion ingredients. No stress, no recipe, no trying to impress. But making a huge statement about good food and about friendship.