: : crazybrave has moved to <a href="http://crazybrave.net">http://crazybrave.net/</a>: Have I mentioned that I'm an exceedingly good cook?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Have I mentioned that I'm an exceedingly good cook?

And modest! And with a very great love for all kinds of cookery books. Except those with "donna hay" on the cover, although I will give her snaps for her pasta twirling tips.*

Tonight I was catching up with the man of action's side visits during his trip to Melbourne to run a marathon, and saw his post describing the finds he had made during a trawl of second hand bookshops, including a 1976 copy of the Larousse Gastronomique, Le Bible of french food and cookery.

My copy is a battered old beast of the 1979 edition, bought for twenty bucks about ten years ago. It is a wonderful reference, beautifully written and covering everyting from hippopotamus ("Large amphibious pachyderm whose flesh is much sought after for food by the African natives") to Claire, the "name of the marine enclosures in the Marennes region where the oysters are left to go green" (tempting, non?)

I would love it for my favourite entry alone: "HOAXES (Gastronomic) SUPERCHERIES GASTRONOMIQUES". In the usual exhaustive style of the rest of the work, we move calmly through the categories, from "Jest of a host" , via "To test the plate and discernment of a guest" right on to "Hoaxes dictated by events", and winding up with your straightfoward "Practical jokes".

A favourite is from the second category, where it is described how the scarcity caused by the siege of Paris in 1870-1871 led to the creation of a pie believed to be made of elephants from the zoo, but in fact made of mice. "And it was a bone, a mouse's bone, found in a pie dish that led to discovery of what lay at the bottom of the affair. But it was very good. And that, after all, was the main thing".

Isn't it, just?

* Hold long pasta in tongs high above plate. Lower pasta, slowly, twirling plate. Admire pretty circle of pasta. Strain head trying hard to remember anything else of value donna hay has ever said or done. Shrug in resigned fashion because, oh well, at least she's not in jail like Martha Stewart. Spend next five minutes idly fantasising about donna hay in Prisoner ironing machine type "incidents". Start to eat cold pasta, which has no sauce on it, because it's all in a pretty pile in the middle. Mix pasta properly. Enjoy.