REC­OL­LEC­TIONS OF A GOURMET

It gets dif­fi­cult to re­view restau­rants when ev­ery­one cooks at home these days, but a glo­ri­ous chif­fon cake saves the day

Financial Mail - - FOOD FOR THOUGHT - @jus­tice­malala

My ca­reer as a trav­el­ling gourmet is in trou­ble. I blame my friends. In­stead of invit­ing me to fancy restau­rants, these “friends” are now cook­ing. What am I sup­posed to re­view when I am wad­dling from one friend’s house to the next, full to the brim af­ter one lovely serv­ing af­ter the other?

When my friends are not cook­ing for me they are giv­ing me books about eat­ing. Just the other day my friend Gavin Yeats gave me an as­ton­ish­ingly sat­is­fy­ing book called Be­tween Meals. It’s a col­lec­tion of ar­ti­cles by the writer AJ Liebling as he chomped his way through France in the 1940s and 1950s.

Liebling loved food. He was de­pressed by the rise of fads that con­cen­trated on health at the ex­pense of plea­sure. He wrote: “In the heroic age be­fore the First World War, there were men and women who ate, in ad­di­tion to a whack­ing lunch and a glo­ri­ous din­ner, a vo­lu­mi­nous souper af­ter the the­atre or other amuse­ments of the evening. I have known some of the sur­vivors, oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans of un­blem­ished ap­petite and un­fail­ing good hu­mour — spry, wry, and free of the ul­cers that come from wor­ry­ing about a bal­anced diet — but they have had no em­u­la­tors in

France since the doc­tors there dis­cov­ered the ex­is­tence of the hu­man liver.

“From that time on, French life has been built to an in­creas­ing ex­tent around that or­gan, and a nig­gling cau­tion has re­placed the old reck­less­ness; the liver was the seat of the Maginot men­tal­ity.”

Thank­fully, the liver is the least of my wor­ries when I visit my friends. Last week I was in the Cape when my friend Greg Rosen­berg and his lovely wife, Palesa, asked our fam­ily to pull in. Greg spent his day work­ing on a pork roast­ing. Oh, and a great whole fish.

Plus sal­ads and other healthy things. But it was the roast pork and Greg’s spe­cially sourced black beans I was dy­ing for. It was so de­li­cious it had me think­ing about Liebling again. He first pro­posed that his book be called Rec­ol­lec­tions of a Gourmet in France. His ed­i­tor ob­jected. The man was by now a known glut­ton. But what if the glut­ton ap­pre­ci­ated and only ate the finest food? So I had a sec­ond go at Greg’s roast pork, rice and beans.

A few days later I hopped over to my friend Roger Jar­dine’s house. He is the happy hus­band of writer Christa Kuljian. Roger had also spent the en­tire day slav­ing at the stove. Var­i­ous dishes were on of­fer: a Basque fish dish that had peo­ple drool­ing, chicken — the works. But I was there for his spe­cial­ity of the day, a spicy cur­ried tripe and but­ter bean stew. I again had sec­onds.

For­tu­nately not all my friends cook amaz­ing food at home, steer­ing me away from restau­rants. At Greg’s house one of our friends had gone out and bought dessert. She found a hip, young, ex­tremely pop­u­lar new-ish break­fast place called New York Bagels. She re­turned with an orange chif­fon cake.

They should of­fer a les­son in chif­fon cake as part of the in­duc­tion for our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. It’s a del­i­cate mat­ter, bak­ing chif­fon cake. You need a spe­cial pan — but you par­tic­u­larly need your wits about you. If you mix it too much it flops and if you don’t stir it enough it won’t rise. The pan is not greased — the cake needs to crawl up the sides. When it is ready you un­screw the bot­tom and turn it up­side down to cool and to pre­vent it fall­ing back.

It was so de­li­cious Liebling would have gone for sec­onds. So I did.

The man was by now a known glut­ton. But what if the glut­ton ap­pre­ci­ated and only ate the finest food?

New York Bagels ★★★★

44 Har­ring­ton Street Zon­nebloem, Cape Town Tel: 073-577-9132

★★★★★ Thuli Madon­sela ★★★★ Ex­cel­lent ★★★ Good ★★ Poor ★ Supra Mahumapelo

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