Saturday, 8 January 2011

Warm Pig’s Head, or the frustrations of a domestic chef

A week into my new food blog and I've yet to mention anything about the family meals I cook nightly. So, last night's menu was burgers with fried onions, chips and broccoli. Thursday night I did roast salmon fillets (parcelled with lemon juice and capers) with new potatoes and chard. On Wednesday night, beef casserole (cooked slowly using a can of Guinness and stock) containing carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery etc, served with buttered baked potatoes.
I like looking at cook books, but here’s the problem. The recipes I would like to experiment with are not going to down well at meal times. The youngest doesn’t like eggs, rice and sundry other things (changes by the week) and turns her nose up at broccoli, partner doesn’t do shellfish, oldest – well, you get the picture. Putting dinner on the table every night can be frustrating if you hanker to try out that interesting recipe in your new cookery book.
A good case in point is Fergus Henderson’s no-nonsense ‘Nose to Tail Eating’ (1999), based on his original book of recipes from the St. John’s Restaurant in London. His philosophy is that all parts of an animal should be utilized in the kitchen. Subtitled ‘A Kind of British Cooking’, he argues that doing so is part of culinary ritual and tradition, and is less wasteful. In the book, he adapts his recipes for the home and tells you there's nothing to be afraid of.
So, what would happen if I serve up Warm Pig’s Head, Crispy pig’s tails, Lambs’ brains, Snails and oak leaf lettuce, Duck’s heart on toast, or Boiled ox tongue? Well, I would probably be sent back to the kitchen to rustle up some beans on toast. It seems a good many cookbooks are for constructing fantasy meals in your head, while you wait for the frozen pizzas to cook.

Soundtrack for this post: Larks Tongues in Aspic (Parts I and II) by King Crimson.

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