Lessons from a Wizened Potato

At the start of our summer in France I was rightly taken to task. Jeni, our house guest, chided me for failing to take care of a wrinkled potato. Against all odds, the potato, which was no bigger than a walnut, had survived the winter in a cupboard and later, in a search for daylight, had produced a spindly…

Unseasonal Blackberries Save the Day

On a long walk miles from our home in Brittany, my wife Rohan saw some ripe blackberries. It was in the last week of July so they had no right to have ripened, indeed the berries around our house were still as they should be - small and green with their drupelets (their surface ‘bobbles’) tightly packed. But of…

An Experiment with Music and Cheese

                  This story started with a note in which John invited me to hum to his cheeses. The invitation, which was delivered as a commentary to a recent blog - “London’s Singing Lift” (28 April 2019) - read: “An experiment has recently taken place in Switzerland where certain types of music played to cheeses…

Cutting Edge, Cutting Cost

For several days in mid-February I was obsessed with a particular aspect of geometry - thickness. First it was the thickness of a slice of bread, then that of an envelope. On both occasions the critical measure was five millimetres which, in imperial units is equivalent to just under two tenths of an inch. On the…

The talented Mr Ripley

Eating arrangements, like much else in my childhood, were very controlled not to say regimented, therefore delicious Sunday roasts and, for a short period, grilled sausages, were a welcome relief. Sunday lunch and the atmosphere were dominated by the main course, which might be roast chicken with bread sauce, a shoulder of pork with crackling and apple…

Slippery customer

My wife, Rohan, suggested that we eat out at Vince et Versa, a restaurant nearby. I agreed but on one condition, that I be allowed to bring my own cutlery. My proposal was rejected - it would be an affront.  A day later, I hatched a less obtrusive plan and a table was booked. I…

Veal meat again

Nostalgia for a classic dish sends Joe off on a breadcrumb trail By rights there should be few things duller than breadcrumbs. However, these apparently characterless granules have now been one of my preoccupations for weeks. My problem was, ultimately, a case of taste coupled with stubborn determination. My wife and I share the cooking. We each have our…

In search of humble pie

In general, my French lessons follow a fairly standard format. After a session in which we catch up on the French news and on any important student news, our teacher goes round the table asking each of us in turn if we have a presentation to offer. Most of us will have prepared something and,…

Food escapology

After a late start, I gradually learnt to cook and for years now I have shared the culinary responsibilities with my wife, herself an excellent cook in the French tradition. In our cooking we have always tried to follow that tradition, so get almost as much pleasure from choosing the menu, buying the ingredients and preparing and cooking…