Monday, October 4, 2010

Felicity Cloake - Guardian love

I've been living away from England now for 8 years. It feels like a lifetime as I've re-set my mental positioning of what constitutes home, both geographically and culturally. No longer dry stone walls, subtle light, cosy houses and long winters, I've resettled in Sydney and have got used to cicadas, white hot summer days and easy going Australians. I think it's 'for good', as they say, but I try not to think about it too much. When I do I yearn for change, for stepping out of my comfort zone, and for re-awakening the senses as you do when you leave home.
With more time to search the web, (in between sleeps, eats and chores that is!) I've been reading the british news, particularly the Guardian online. In terms of newspapers, we get fewer dimensions in Australia, and we miss out on much of the discussion that seems to be taking place so passionately in the UK. Sometimes it's the big current themes, such as looking back at Blair's decision to go into Iraq, what and who was involved, the facts that were known. Other days, I just need to see what Kate Moss and Cheryl Cole are up to!
But for a country that's not universally known for its food, the UK really has a fabulous new culture. There are so many sites that re-invigorate my passion for food. The content BBC website alone would seed a lifetime of cooking.
But the Guardian website, and specifically the food section really is something else. The comment on food and food culture makes my mind wander, and my taste buds melt.  The new vegetarian by Yotam Ottolenghi makes me feel that eating meat is unnecessary for me, and Hugh Fearnley-Wittingtall's name alone takes me straight back to posh English school.

Image: Green Fence Farm Blogspot

But it's Felicity Cloake who really makes me think about my cooking, and being more thoughtful about how I approach new recipes and ingredients, essentially dabbling in the kitchen. I seem to do a lot of that these days. Her blog examines the modern basics in cookery - the recipes that anyone interested in cooking, or just seeing for themselves, will probably have given a go. How to make the perfect shortbread, bread, brownies, thai curry.  The little touches that make something personal, and a taste of the past.  Her entry on pesto is fabulous.

Image: Guardian UK

Felicity is methodical and thoughtful like a scientist in her approach to trialing recipes. She goes back to the origins of food and recipes, questioning which ingredients should and shouldn't be included, and whether they would have been available in a given time and place. This also generates some healthy debate from her loyal readers.  Felicity has made me reconsider how you select a recipe that will work for you, not just my past stance of faithfully wading into anything that had managed to get into a printed book. You know, someone must have tested it if it got into print, right?  With some of the recipes that I've cooked at home, I really wish I hadn't bothered. Spending hours in the kitchen in preparation, cost of ingredients, not to mention the washing up, with the results only to be thrown in the bin, or maybe donated to my doggies.  Through these experiences I've learned to be more picky, and do my own research.
Anyway, if pesto is your thing it's more than worth having a look. I've started omitting garlic - I know more than a few people who thoroughly dislike raw garlic, and I think it has its merits.
Thank you Guardian, I miss you.

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