Friday, June 19, 2009

The Shoe Burger


Thursday, June 18, 2009

A curious letter from Doctor Who

This is a letter I received from Tom Baker about ten years ago when I first started working on the cookbook (not a typo -- it's really been that long) It didn't make it in the book because I didn't know quite what to do with it and I never got written permission to use it. I do think this blog is a good place to put it and it's a shame to go to waste. It is pretty entertaining and I hope more people can make sense of it than me.

I asked Mr. Baker if he could give me a recipe, his favourite foods or an anecdote.

This is what I got:

To begin at the beginning. I was born with several teeth on the 20th Jan. 1934. I mention the teeth not to brag but to praise my mother who adored me and told me that she went through hell for the first few hours of my life. Not only did I seem glad to be out of the womb and into the Liverpool air, but I was simply an ecstatic and voracious feeder; which I still am. Or, if you like, which is still true.

My darling mother told me that me appetite, like my acting was way over the top of anything she could imagine. And so sharp were my teeth that I made mince meat of my mother's nipples. I waited till she died before I revealed this piece of autobiography. Of course these are very dim memories for me.

Because the tooth fairy had been so good to me I was deprived of my mother's molk within three hours of my attack on her nipples; both of them. I hope it's clear that I'm talking about both my mother's nipples and not the nipples of the tooth fiary for whom I have the greatest respect. My mohter was a martyr to her love for me.

Oh, get on with it, Tom.

So there you have the beginning of my eating experience, my own mother!

I'll give you a piece of advice here; never trust a man who would eat his own mother.

My mother also told me that the Germans had heard about me and that's why they declared war on Liverpool and began to bomb us so often. I had no idea that they were also attacking the rest of the country. So within a short time the country was short of food, all my fault, and then began the austerity programme. Each day at six o'clock in the morning and then at midday and again at six at night a large wooden spoon was produced from behind the oven and I was fed cod liver oil. In no time I was hooked and would mew for my CLO.

We also were fed a nice looking asphalt like substance called malt. I grew to like this as much as my thrice daily CLO. Whatever these aids to life contained they sure made me grow. By the time I was six years old I was bout five feet and eight inches tall and often topped in the street by recruiting sergeants with gruff voices who demanded to know why I was not in the army. When they discovered I was only six and not eighteen they whistled Rule Britannia and marvelled.

About this time, 1940, I started on a course to become a professional liar. We were keen Roman Catholics in my bit of Liverpool and confession was a must if you were interested in Eternal life. Following this sacrament, I made my first communion. For the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Nudists among your readers I should explain.

This second steop on teh way to perfection was called: "First Holy Communion," and it was a very special morning indeed. IN fact it was the most amazing morning of my entire life. It was the mornign of the day that I ate God. Shall I say that again? OK. It was the morning of the day that I first ate God. I swallowed His body, His blood, His Soul and His Divinity. It really was a big day for me. I should add for those of you who like all the details that I did not bite Him nor did I chew Him.

No, He was so tender that He just dissolved on my tongue and I ingested Him. It was my first meal on that glorious May morning 1940.

So, to recap: My first meal was milk and both my mother's nipples. This was followed by a mixture called Cow and Gate. This was a white paste, I think, that tasted vaguely of cows and I don't (know) what else. But it was a great fertilizer and made babies grow tall. Then came the Malt and the Cod Liver Oil on top of the Cow and Gate. And then, as I have just told you, I started to eat God.

Well this mixture acted like magic and I grew like a beanstalk in a Pantomime. By the time I was eight I was as tall as a Grenadier guardsman though of course much thinner. I was called lofty by any passer by.

Then came Bovril, which is an essence of beef. Taken in large quantities with say spinach seems to produce a state of credulousness that surpasses disbelief. So Nipples Blood God and Spinach were my early influences. You can imagine the exquisite sense of anticipation I feel in a restaurant when I ask the waiter to bring the Menu! But I'm always disappointed. If it wasn't for the Spinach, I'd be in despair.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Don't chop those carrots!

Chopping carrots was always a bit of a chore, but I never knew there were drawbacks to both health and taste. BBC News has released this story Cancer boost from whole carrots and the findings are

Scientists found "boiled before cut" carrots contained 25% more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped up first.

Experiments on rats fed falcarinol have shown they develop fewer tumours.

The Newcastle University study will be presented at NutrEvent, a conference on nutrition and health, to be held in France.

Lead researcher Dr Kirsten Brandt, from Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said: "Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked.

"By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round."

The Newcastle scientist, along with colleagues at the University of Denmark, discovered the health benefits of falcarinol in carrots four years ago.

Lead researcher Dr Kirsten Brandt, from Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said: "Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked.

Twenty five percent is a pretty significant difference especially considering a reduction in tumors by a third for rats. I'm not sure what the comparison for humans is and what exactly type of cancer it would affect but so far this is only one study and hopefully there will be more to come

From a pure culinary perspective, I think just as many restaurants will find this interesting:

Dr Brandt added that in blind taste studies the whole carrots also tasted much better.

Eight of ten people favoured the whole vegetables over those that were pre-chopped.

This is because the naturally occurring sugars which are responsible for giving the carrot its distinctively sweet flavour were also found in higher concentrations in the carrot that had been cooked whole.