My own culinary skills, such as they may be, are
very limited tightly focused. I know this and can live with it. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge nobody has ever died after eating something I’ve cooked (a prolonged streak of luck that Madame sometimes finds quite baffling), so that’s a result in itself.
While being fully aware of my limitations, I nonetheless still enjoy ‘doing’ cooking. Admittedly this may have something to do with the steady absorption of pastis which usually fuels my efforts. And I have to keep it simple – which is probably also related to the steady absorption of pastis.
But I do appreciate things being done properly and so I watch programmes such as ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’ admiring of the abilities of the contestants – technical prowess, creativity and calmness under pressure. Admiring, but not at all envious: have you any idea what the hours are like?
However, there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years of watching Masterchef (in all its guises). And it’s that high-end cooking is prone to faddishness. Don’t even get me started on the homeopathic portion sizes of nouvelle cuisine.
Bone marrow (revolting) was all the rage one year, I seem to recall. Burnt – no, not char-grilled, actually burnt – vegetables was another. Well, even I can do that, although when I do burn something I throw it away. Or present it incinerated side down.
In this latest season (the one that ended just before Christmas, but I’m a bit slow), the must-have thing to put on an otherwise perfectly sensible and delicious-looking plate of food was honeycomb; not the actual stuff that bees crank out but the version that, to my traditional mind, has only one proper home:
While some culinary trends come and – thankfully – go, a perennial favourite amongst people who seem to know what they’re doing in a kitchen and want to demonstrate the fact is ‘deconstruction’. That’s where a classical or familiar dish is presented for consumption in a non-traditional way by separating out the various constituent elements on the plate.
Well, you can call me old school, but I know which version of a banana split I prefer:
Admittedly a deconstructed dish can look quite pretty. Or arsey, depending on your point of view:
Still, I suppose that even the slowest ship in the culinary convoy should at least try to move with the times. So I’ve been giving some thought to revising the standard presentation of one of my signature dishes.
Of which I have basically only two: Steak Diane (which is where I throw in my trademark cremated onions) and a Thai green curry (I make my own paste, y’see, so that’s the magic ingredient). The steak is only wheeled out on special occasions but the curry crops up every couple of weeks or so.
Traditionally, this is served up in one bowl alongside some boiled (I’d like to say steamed, but that wouldn’t really be true) rice, but I’m seriously considering a more deconstructed approach. Something like this, in fact:
But there’s no way I’m wasting a perfectly good Crunchie on it.