The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

La Vie Quotidienne encore! From her series of eclectic memes, we have now a tag [via Alice and Jackie Danicki] on food. (The title of this response steals shamelessly from Rambler's comment to Shefaly's post.)

What’s your favourite table?

We had a round table in our kitchen in Hoboken, capacious, wooden, heavy as whatsit, precisely at the right height to place our elbows and rest our heads. We could eat on it and dance on it; we could write on it and read at it; we used it as a countertop and a cutting plane; and we sold it to a student at Stevens Institute of Technology when we left Sinatra's town.

What would you have for your last supper?

Bouillabaise, but only because I've never had it, and despite my desperate efforts each time I go to France, it continues to elude me. I suspect now that I will possibly conk without ever having tasted it.

I'd like a nice Chateauneuf-du-Pape to drink, although if you were to replace it with Tesco's £2.99 red plonk, I'd probably be unable to tell the difference. If your budget doesn't stretch to one, a freshly squeezed Egyptian orange juice would do equally well.

Sashimi. Did I mention sashimi?

Calissons, kuih-kuih, and any specialist Belgian chocolate would round this meal off. I would try to brush my teeth immediately thereafter to seal in a minty breath, in anticipation of bawling women showering my dead face with kisses.

What’s your poison?

It used to be my mum's Mysore Pak, which I used to consume by the kilogramme. Now it's Belgian chocolate, the darker the better, and if laced with hazelnut, will I complain? No.

Oh yeah, and Taco Bell's Mexican pizza. Damn, why don't they have a branch in freakin' London?!

Name your three desert island ingredients.

Garlic. Lemon. Red chilli. I assume I'd be able to extract as much water and salt and fish as I wanted from the sea.

What would you put in Room 101?

Okay, I've no idea what Room 101 is, but a close perusal of Shefaly's answer suggests that it's some sort of Purgatory. So I'd shove in it every Bangladeshi restaurant that claims to serve Indian food.

Which book gets you cooking?

I don't cook, but Peter Robb's Midnight in Sicily certainly got me drooling copiously: what a brilliant admixture of literature, music, Sicilian food, and the mafia.

What’s your dream dinner party line-up?

Robert Hooke (for his multifarious interests in science), Ibn-Battuta (for his incredible yen for travel and adventure), Ashoka (for his spiritual transformation), P. G. Wodehouse (for humour), Thyagaraja and Amir Khusrau (for music). And, of course, I would only be able to truly converse with Plum, so the others would just sit around and jabber incomprehensibly.

What was your childhood teatime treat?

Pakodas - deep fried potato in batter and masala. Yummy. And Mysore Pak.

What was your most memorable meal?

Our pals V & A took us to a Greek restaurant in Bristol soon after we came to England. It subsequently closed, but what an amazing meal that was. It was so good that I can't recall any of it now. My memory is not as it should be, very possibly a result of decades of indiscriminate pigging out.

In eastern Switzerland, not far from Davos, we went skiing with R & B, and they took us to a famous Swiss restaurant there. The starter - a hay soup, incredibly - was delectable; the steak I had later was even more to die for; and I felt I nearly did shortly thereafter when I spent the rest of the night puking my guts out. I refuse to blame the food - the others had what I ate and remained unaffected - because  it was superb, delicate, zesty. It's just the consequences that made it doubly memorable.

What was your biggest food disaster?

I face gustatory disasters on a daily basis, eating soggy sandwiches at work for lunch, or any of the quick meals that are purveyed in the City (well, except the Japanese takeaways we managed to sneak out of Nomura's canteen, which were quite superb). Even when I make lunch myself, it rarely rises above the rank.

I did try to make an Alu Dahiwala (a potato-marinated-in-yoghurt curry) once as a boy, following a recipe from a book. It turned out to be quite inedible, although my parents and sister gamely attempted it. Then my mum did something to it and it became edible again. Amazing.

What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had?

Every time and in every country that I succumb to the wife's blandishments and agree to try out the local desi fare, I suffer. Oh, how I suffer. In - among other places - San Francisco, Exeter, Ottawa, Edison, and Brick Lane. But when, upon my insistence (and overriding the wife's strenuous objections), we encountered the truly unswallowable at Islington's Gufaa, the nadir was finally achieved.

Who’s your food hero/food villain?

Colonel Sanders would be the hero (and - the wife says - villain): he has been instrumental in almost every job change I've undertaken. Eating one of his chicken breasts makes me think deeply about what I want to do in life, and invariably at that point, I only want to get out of there ('there' implying a large canvas - the KFC restaurant, the job I'm at, the city I'm living in).

Nigella or Delia?

Indifferent to either, not having watched any of their cooking shows.

Vegetarians: genius or madness?

I'm somewhat at a loss to explain why anyone would restrict themselves to just plant food when so much excellence just flows out of the juices and sinews of animals, but I would have to add that some well-prepared vegetarian dishes are right up there with the Michelin stars. Gunpowder, ghee, dal and rice, and a side of beans-cooked-with-coconut - what an awesome, awesome combination.

Fast food or fresh food?

Well, some fast food is freshly prepared. Mawalli Tiffin Room in Bangalore epitomises fast and fresh and flavoursome.

Who would you most like to cook for?

Nobody I like should face my cooking. My cordial enemies, though, are welcome to taste my culinary concoctions.

What would you cook to impress a date?

I wouldn't. A restaurant is so much easier, what? Especially in cities such as New York.

Make a wish.

Can I eat all the food I want and not have it corrode my liver, cause Alzheimer's, clog my blood-vessels, or destroy my heart? Huh? Can I? Can I?


That's it, then. Not tagging anyone, but if anybody is encouraged to carry the thought forward, please let me know so I can lurk and learn...


Shefaly said...

Feanor: That is a great meme response, thanks.

MTR indeed combines both fresh and fast and I do agree that the dichotomy is false.

As for good lunch in the City, a vegetarian friend of mine told me about a soup and rolls place on Bishopsgate. I shall find more and pass it on. She is very finicky so perhaps the food is good. I hear Tiffin Bites is also not half-bad.

I am surprised though you do not know Room 101 (so not been watching Paul Merton's eponymous show then?). It - the concept not PM's show - features in 1984, the book.

And you want all the way to Provence (reportedly Angelina reads your blog and has bought a chateau in Aix-en-Provence right after you wrote the post) and missed Bouillabaisse? Tut tut..

Your dinner table is great. I see you transcend ages whereas I stuck with modern greats (depending on perspective).

I now await 2 responses and then will collate them in the post or in a new one. So Jackie can see how far the meme got! :-)

Fëanor said...

Shefaly: Glad you liked it. I'm ready to please, heh. Thanks for including me in!

No, haven't watched Mr Merton lately. And that soup-roll place would be quite welcome: I am tiring of sandwiches and take-away Italian. Tiffin Bites is not that great, I thought. As for Provence and missing the bouillabaise, yup, sad story, no? I didn't want to just try it out at some pedestrian digs, but the good places need 48 hours advance notice which I never had, and the one recommended place in Marseille was full when I went...

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