The Pedant In The Kitchen
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The Pedant's ambition is simple. He wants to cook tasty, nutritious food; he wants not to poison his friends; and he wants to expand, slowly and with pleasure, his culinary repertoire. A stern critic of himself and others, he knows he is never going to invent his own recipes (although he might, in a burst of enthusiasm, increase the quantity of a favourite ingredient). Rather, he is a recipe-bound follower of the instructions of others.It is in his interrogations of these recipes, and of those who create them, that the Pedant's true pedantry emerges. How big, exactly, is a 'lump'? Is a 'slug' larger than a 'gout'? When does a 'drizzle' become a downpour? And what is the difference between slicing and chopping?This book is a witty and practical account of Julian Barnes' search for gastronomic precision. It is a quest that leaves him seduced by Jane Grigson, infuriated by Nigel Slater, and reassured by Mrs Beeton's Victorian virtues. The Pedant in the Kitchen is perfect comfort for anyone who has ever been defeated by a cookbook and is something that none of Julian Barnes' legion of admirers will want to miss.
cook has similarities to a sexual encounter. One party is normally more experienced than the other; and either party should have the right, at any moment, to say, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’ The professional might – like Elizabeth David, for instance – refuse to hand-hold or sweet-talk the punter. While from the punter’s point of view, the refusal is more likely to come from (where else?) the gut. For instance, you buy a chicken, take it home, run your hand along the kitchen bookshelf, and
serviette ring. And that was just the napkins. The rest of the book had the same combination of weirdness and luxury. Had people ever lived like this? my suburban mind wondered. Somewhere, might they still be doing so? Perhaps there really were houses with a butler’s pantry; perhaps voluptuaries really did pile slag heaps of soft fruit on to stemmed porcelain display plates, and serve dishes of stuffed quail in the shape of a Ruritanian crown. Were there really as many soups in the world as the
the golden, bitter, buttery juices’ over the chops. Well, no, I didn’t do that. For a start, the chicory was still pretty unyielding to a knifepoint, and barely coloured (unlike the ones in the photo). Second, there wasn’t the slightest trace of a ‘gooey bit’ in the pan. And third, my eye caught the final picture, in which a tablespoonful of dark brown concentrated juice was being dripped over a chop. ‘They’re lying again!’ I shouted. (It is a cry often heard from the Pedant’s kitchen, and She
to lift the lid and examine how the thing is getting along does allow negative speculation to enter the mind of the culinary self-doubter. However, more importantly, you have time to prepare a salad, make a whole trayful of drinks, and generally impersonate a normal human being. I tried the New Easy Method a few times, and there was certainly nothing wrong with it that I can remember. But somehow I drifted back to the traditional technique: maybe I associated the dish too indelibly with
correspondent in Oldham told me that his paternal grandfather refused to touch beetroot because in his youth he had seen it used as a bedding plant in cemeteries. All his life the funereal connotations simply overrode his taste buds. For the bulk of the past century, generations of schoolchildren learned to wince at rancid roundels staining the delightful spam on their plates. In my own case I associate the root with my grandmother’s pickle fork, one of those two-pronged EPNS numbers with a