Thursday, August 04, 2005

Baby Food

I realise that I need to do a proper profile and a banner at some point - to explain myself, my food philosophy and simply What On Earth I Am Doing With This Site. But it falls into the do-later category and probably, I'll get round to it in about 2007. But until then, a quick word or two:

I find myself being less and less interested in recipe books these days (not that you could tell it from sprees like these!). I am far more drawn to food writing, with Jeffery Steingarten, Ruth Reichl, MFK Fisher and Robert Wolke being my favourites. I am becoming acquainted with Elizabeth David and find her surprisingly funny - I'd always pictured her as a kind of maiden aunt, with some stern and antiquated ideas about cooking. And Gay Bilson's Plenty is so wonderfully written that it makes me doubt my desire to ever compose text at all.

But I digress. I have recently dipped into 2 compendiums of food writing, Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky and Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring by Alice Thomas Ellis. I did enjoy Choice Cuts in small bites, but I was surprised at the reliance on MFK Fisher. Don't get me wrong, I adore her writing, but in a selection from all the food writing the world has to offer (he went back as far as the fifth century B.C.), I found it odd to include nine extracts from MFK Fisher's works. Red Herring has only lured me in a chapter or two so far, but I did enjoy this bold statement

"any adult who has tasted a spoonful will have concluded that the manufacturers of canned baby food hate either food or babies or both"

And so to the photo. A classic baby dish round here - probably served up to Plumbaby a couple of times each week. Wholemeal rigatoni, an onion, a large bottle of tomato passata, diced carrot, capsicum and leafy greens. The onion is fried in olive oil briefly and then the passata is added to the pot. Once on the boil, add the pasta and diced carrot*. I detest the taste and texture of boiled capsicum, so this and the greens (lettuce, spinach, whatever comes to hand) are only added at the last minute to heat through and nothing more. A dash of salt and pepper and a splash of oil and it makes a fine adult dinner too.

*This is a new technique I'm trying, to cook the pasta in the sauce to save time and pans. It has worked surprisingly well, but I suspect that is because I use a fairly sturdy wholemeal pasta - a softer pasta might absorb the passata.


At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

I thought Plenty was so well written - and presented. I'm currently reading Mark Kurlansky's book on the Basque region. I find his books take a great deal of concentration.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Niki said...

I received ...Red Herring for Christmas, and whilst I enjoyed it it's just so bizarre! It strikes me as thought she sat down and just randomly wrote about anything that struck her at that instant, regardless if the thought follows on from the previous sentence. She reminded me of some of the more erm...academic lecturers I had at uni who seemed to be inspired (or not) sentence-by-sentence by some higher being, and couldn't hold one thought in their mind longer than a few seconds! There's an amazing totally random few sentences near the end of one chapter that I marked and read out to a few people who burst out laughing, saying 'what?????'
Having said that, I've actually got it by my bed again to dip in and out.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger plum said...

Barbara, I've never read any Mark Kurlansky before and I've wanted this book for ages, so I am a little disappointed in it.

And Niki, I haven't got far into Red Herring yet but yes, it does strike me as something which can't be digested in large chunks!

At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

Mark K was in Auckland recently and he is such a nice man. Not a great public speaker but one on one, very interesting to talk with.


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