eating

Think on: Does any cheese complement a tomato?

The UK’s popular, and probably populist, newspaper, The Sun, states, following a poll of its readers, that a fraction above 62% of them would vote Leave if there was a second referendum on Brexit. Quelle surprise, as they may say in Brussels.

Polls are silly and I don’t like them, so much so that I might respond to any in a mischievous and inconsistent way just to subvert them. Am I alone in this? Let’s take a poll….

Seriously, I wondered if any of our other esteemed papers had instigated their own agenda driven readers’ polls. I didn’t find any but stumbled across a YouGov analysis of different paperstypical reader. It was all pretty banal until I read,

“A Daily Mail reader enjoys eating cheese and tomato sandwiches…”

Now I’m not saying reverse logic can apply and that knowing your character traits can point you towards the appropriate newspaper but, really, is there any way I can pick up the Daily Mail knowing this?

In my world, sliced tomatoes have no business between two slices of bread anymore than say a sliced lemon does (by all means try one and let me know). But then with cheese?!

I know, I know, the pairing of Cheese and tomato, have history – but how on Earth did that happen?

As usual, answers on a postcard, please, as we used to say….


YouGov Poll on UK newspaper readerships (via The Guardian) – old news

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Smorgasbord Me

Blogger BeetleyPete is currently showcasing some of his favourite followed blogs. It’s interesting to see what ideas bloggers have and I am inspired to give this one a go as it could be fun. (As I think it may be to promote authors, and as I am not one, I will just keep it to this place.)

The request is to write 100+ word responses to five of the 52 prompts listed. For an extra challenge, I dialled the Random Number Generator 1-52 to select the five questions from the list.

12. What is the one ambition that you still have not achieved?

I know the permanent answer to this is a peaceful departure. The old joke which tickled me on hearing went,

“When I die, I want to go like Grandfather, dying quietly in his sleep – and not like his passengers, terrified and screaming behind him on the bus.”

I wonder how we would be if we all knew precisely how and when we would die, whether it would be worse or better, psychologically. Of course, we don’t until near the very end and so we convince ourselves it’s best not to know, and so there’s hope. It’s difficult to view it any other way.

45. What is your favourite vegetable and how do you like it prepared?

I love veggies, and don’t really go in for favourites, but I will say Asparagus. They have to be fresh, and they cannot possibly be too fresh, which means growing your own. Once they’re cut, the sugars begin to starch up and they lose that desired sweetness. The season is quite short in England though, about six weeks, and then the plants need to revive and replenish. Fortunately, we used to grow them and will try to do so again soon.

We’ve tried all kinds of ways to prepare asparagus, and all sorts of dressings, but we always liked simple steaming, and a dollop of yellow butter and freshly ground black pepper over to serve.

They make your pee smell funny, that’s about the only downside.

3. Tell us about your craziest experience.

Looking down the list of prompts, I see this could also be the answer to question 14 because my craziest experience has to be a recurring dream. We all dream but the idea is that we shouldn’t remember them upon waking; this, I’m told, is the healthy option. As a rule, I can’t recall my dreams but during two, separate periods of my life, I have experienced troubling recurring dreams. The latter one in adult life, I can probably explain was triggered by stress. It’s the earlier one that’s a puzzle.

I had it from before I can properly remember much else of my life and came often up until the age of about seven when it completely disappeared. It was a very intense and abstract dream, beginning with just a long sensation of passing blindly along a passage or tunnel. Then suddenly, I’m aware of being in a room full of regular geometric shapes: pyramids, cuboids, cones and cylinders. I am perfectly still in this space though not calm. Then the dream ends. That I can remember this vividly after so many years adds to the mystery. I wonder if it has anything to do with the naturally forgotten experience of being born.

42. What is your favourite music genre and why?

I’ve had so many, I might have had them all. My most recent habit is Jazz though it’s a big field and I can’t say I love all Jazz. The thing I like most about it isn’t so much the composition as the instrumentation. I got into Jazz as an antidote to electric guitar bands, in particular Indie rock/pop which was indistinguishable from any other rock/pop to me. The sound of Miles Davis exquisitely soloing a muted horn was instantly attractive, as was a Joe Morello drum solo, an Oscar Peterson-Count Basie piano duet, and a Dan Berglund augmented double bass intro.

I’ve always loved Jazz, to be fair. I was brought up in the period when Jazz was the go to sound for incidental music on movies and dramas. It was in the air, as much as pop music is now – but it had no longer been youth music and so I had to get youth out of the way first and become educated. Now I like to hear lots of different music but I’d probably put Jazz top of the list.

5. If you were to become invisible for a day what is the one thing you would do?

I have a mischievous character and a healthy amount of curiosity – and I also live in a town which boasts about the excellence of its cctv security below its welcome signs – so such a thing could be like all the Christmases and birthdays happening at once. My immediate thoughts, however, are overwhelmed as to what I could do.

As a foodie, I may find myself in some unaffordable restaurant – unaffordable to me but not them – sampling my way through the menu. Maybe get into a West End show gratis.

I feel a lot of obvious things might actually be disappointing. Peeping into any person’s private life, for instance. I’ll probably stick with a bit of free grub.


inspired by and borrowed from Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

New Endings and Beginnings

Nearing its end, 2018 has been, for me, a significant year: a milestone birthday, a determination to give up routine work, and a decision, soon to be realised, hopefully, to move home.

We are not moving far, no more than seven miles from where we are now and have been for the best part of twenty years. We had intended to move sooner, sometime around 2008, but there was always something going on (in 2008, it happened to be the banking crisis and the recession, but there were personal things happening as well). Every year seemed to bring with it a doubt as to whether it was the right thing to do.

But there comes a time when you think you’re not going to end up on the proverbial death bed with big regrets, so you sort out those dreams which might be realised and act. Big resolution time!


The justification for our move is food. It would be, wouldn’t it. For years, we kept an allotment, a narrow strip of cultivation rented for a small annual amount – £15, I remember – on which you could grow fruit, vegetables and sometimes flowers for cutting. There are rules and obligations to keeping a plot and this, we felt, wasn’t for us. We simply didn’t have the time and we let it go but the keenness to grow some of our own food remained. So we trust we can begin in the new year with a decent sized garden, and a greenhouse included. Straight from the ground, into the kitchen, and onto the table. There’s not much that can beat that, food-wise.


Moving further away from town, the one thing I think I’ll miss most is the easy walk into town for some casual shopping. It’s not much of a walk, as walks go around here, though I have spotted deer, water voles and the intermittent sighting of a kingfisher, a brief halcyon blue dart heading upstream or down.

Apart from this, I’m happy to leave. With the passing of years, town is reminding me a little too much of the suburbia I left thirty years back – though not as bad as suburbia is now. My regular walks will probably have to be to a pub, about a mile away. It’ll be tough but it’s got to be done.

Bakery Fakery

Amongst my news feed is a finding that from 19 supermarket loaves marketed as “sourdough”, only 4 were identified as genuine. The rest contained yeast which, as anyone who knows sourdough, is like putting feathers on a pig and calling it chicken.

But is anyone surprised about the loaf fakery? To be honest, if a loaf looks good, feels good and proves to be tasty, they can call it what they like as far as I’m concerned. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and when they said, once you’ve tried sourdough, there’s no going back, they were wrong. As fabulous as sourdough is, and it is, variety still remains the spice of life and other breads are just as exciting.

So, yes, a slap on the wrists of all those naughty, cynical supermarkets but come on people, teach yourselves discernment.

Thinking about it, bread is probably my favourite food of all time. You know those restaurants which give you a basket of bread samples while you wait for your order. With luck, there might be sun-dried tomato bread, some bread infused with herby flavours, or seeded bread and even fruity breads. I eat the lot. When the waiter comes for the order, I sometimes feel like saying, forget the starters, just bring me another plate of those fine breads, my good fellow! (because that’s how we speak in England, in restaurants, don’t you know?)

Thinking some more, I used to have a go at baking my own. Maybe I ought to get back into that too.


image by Helena Yankovska via Unsplash.com

The Great British Fake-off

When we eat

I am a breakfast man. It gives me great pleasure, when holidaying, to find a good spread put on for our morning meal. The best of these must have been the chain hotel we stayed in in Stockholm a few years ago. It was a buffet breakfast, eat as much as you like, and I was like a kid given a free pass in a sweet shop.

Though not formally so, I made it a five course meal: Fresh fruit salad;, Muesli and yoghurt; bacon, egg, mushrooms and tomatoes; Toast and marmalade; Sweet Pastries to go. And, of course, orange juice and fresh coffee refills. I also like the regional variations you sometimes find: lavabread, black puddings, smoked fish, cheeses, hams and charcuterie.

It’s a pity our conventional timetable, in England and much of the West, doesn’t allow the leisure of a good breakfast every day of the week. Instead, our main meal is shunted to the far end of the day, along with most of our leisure time. I am told the Industrial Revolution is to blame for this convention, and how it caused everyone to toe this line against the previous millennia of human evolution. And all subsequent technological advancements, business strategies and politics went along with the trend, alienating ourselves from our nature.

I saw today on a BBC news site, there’s a thing called Chrono-nutrition which is basically studying what time it’s best to eat. What do you know, they reckon it might be the morning – breakfast! Our evening meal, whether restaurant dining or family sit together, is looking a bit bad. It appears our circadian clocks don’t want to know late in the day.

It’s all very well but how on earth are we supposed to turn this drifting oil tanker around? Should we even try? Don’t get me wrong, I said I love a grand breakfast, but I also love a good dinner too. And I won’t pass up a decent lunch come to that. There’s something these nutritional articles and studies never seem to take into account when telling us what is good or bad for us: pleasure. We are human beings, not merely biological machines.


BBC News: Are we eating at the wrong time?

Thinking about…

Cooking eggs.

How do you like your eggs, fried or boiled?

Apparently, the answer is geo-cultural. According to the Co-op as reported in the London Evening Standard,

A Co-op study of just more than 2,000 people found that Liverpudlians prefer poached eggs, fried tops the list in Cardiff, Edinburgh loves an omelette, Glaswegians like a hardboiled egg while Belfast opts for soft boiled.

Londoners, like me, like theirs scrambled, like I do.

Old Woman Cooking Eggs by Diego Velázquez

My mum, who I’d observe at the cooker in order to learn, would make scrambled eggs by boiling them in a little milk and butter, in a milk pan, stirring all the time. And it did take time, waiting for the mixture to “catch” on the pan and continuously lifting it away. This method was adapted to the microwave oven when they became available though stirring would need to be intermittent.

This is how I made scrambled eggs for a long time until I read a story how a British actor once had scrambled eggs cooked by Jack Nicholson. He cooked beaten eggs in a hot frying pan with a little melted butter. It takes seconds, and they taste better.

Much, much later, I cottoned on that there’s little to gain by beating the eggs beforehand. Simply beat them in the pan while cooking. (I think I got this idea from an Asian cookery source – but I could be wrong.)

Fast food isn’t all bad.

The Co-op on Eggs

More thoughts…

I think maybe sometimes nothing is better for lunch than a soft boiled egg sarnie. Soft yolks but not too runny, between buttered, crusty white bread slices, liberally seasoned with salt and black pepper before closing…

When my Gran was living alone, I would visit her every Tuesday, after college, and she enjoyed feeding me, as I think all Gran’s do. One favourite was egg and chips, with a slice of bread. Simple but Gran had a way to make it taste memorable. I know she only ever had white pepper which gives a different bite to the more fruity black. Her “chips” were round slices of spud shallowed fried in a frying pan. Soft, runny yolks, liberally peppered. Exquisite. I can taste them now…

Poaching is a tricky business but done properly, they look good on a kipper or any poached, smoked fish. Brown bread and butter on the side…

Omelette with homemade baked chips is my go-to quick dinner for one, usually if I’m heading out and it’s too early for the others to eat. It’s automatic but joyful. Two cheeses grated in the omelette, three parts Cheddar and one part Parmesan. I’ll have a generous dash of HP sauce all over this, and the customary slice of bread…

There used to be a transport cafe near where I first worked. A small, round, motherly woman did both the cooking and the serving there; she really looked after you. She did a wonderful cheese omelette and chips, always eaten with brown sauce. And a mug of good tea. Her superb apple pie or crumble served in a pool of custard to follow…