Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Foodies, Gerunds and Being Cool

I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli
George Bush

I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick. Not wounded. Dead.
Woody Allen

It is getting hard being an acceptable 21st century person. Honestly I can't keep up with it all.

Recently I started on the foodie thing. I'd read about foodies. Foodies are "in". They aren't as "in" as iPads", but they are more "in" than anything else I can understand.

Foodies are people who appreciate food. Not very politically correct (think of all the starving people as my mum reminded us when I wouldn't eat my stale bread) I have to say. But who cares about that, when food is the topic.

Foodies can eat anything, as long as it is, well, a foodie thing.. They can eat French food full of cream and egg yolks. That's OK. As long as it is correctly "plated". And "plating" is itself an art. "Plating" is I think, a gerund. But more of that later.

Plating means presenting food on a plate in an appetising way. "Plating" which is a verb, comes from "plate" which is a noun. Hence the gerundicity. You can't just slop the food on the plate. And you cannot go to the opposite extreme and plate something to make it look like a Van Gogh or a Pollock. I was watching "Chopped" on TV the other night and some poor chef contestant who had been criticized for his maladroit plating, tried a little bit too hard in the next round. "We aren't looking for a painting," one of the judges said.

So you must not slop the food onto the plate, but you must also be careful to suppress any creative urge. The middle road is the way to go, or so it seems.

I've taken to watching the foodie shows. "Chopped", "The Last Restaurant Standing", "The Worst Cook in America" - there's a never ending supply. I suppose it's some sort of substitute for a social life. If you can't beat it, eat it. Whatever.

And so tonight I was somewhat struck by a news thing on CNN, about one Jamie Oliver. I'm not a Jamie Oliver fan. For starters (or should I say, appetizers) I'm not impressed by a grown-up calling himself "Jamie". I have a good friend James, who lives in London. He's 23 and when he was two he was known as "Jamie". But he's a grown-up now. Not so Master Oliver.

Jamie Oliver has recently (Bad diet shortens life spans, raises health costs, says Jamie Oliver) criticized American food. So what, you might think. But think again. Jamie Oliver is from England.

English food. Is it a cuisine? I don't think so. The upper echlons of English society eat cucumber sandwiches. Can you imagine? The "lower classes" eat bangers and mash - choose your poison.

And pick on your own country Jamie! We are too busy recovering from our culinary inheritance - of English "food".

Jamie, I'm really trying to understand. I do try to look at it from your side.

All I can say is, "Deary me, Jamie, the new world really should take an iceburg lettuce leaf out of your cookbook."

When in Rome ...


Anonymous said...

Ah Katie, you've dunnit again. Y'know, you've got to publish "The Best of the Letters" even if you have to self publish. Your scratchings are a joy and lift my spirits. But am i the only person who ever makes comments, or do you erase the others? Maybe I'm hitting the wrong switches.
Stay warm in Noo York, girl. And keep Jo on a shorter leash ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, I found the right switch to check out the comments. Attagirl!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate! Loved this one for sure. I can relate to it. Jamie is so arrogant! We have the best foods here in US so whaat is he talking about?? I am a foodie myself as you know;.)))

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