Last Thursday, I had the luxury of attending a talk at the V&A Reading Rooms in South Kensington featuring the charming Jacob Kenedy, Chef Patron of Bocca di Lupo in Soho. He was there to read from his new cookbook, Bocca, and give us a little insight into his healthy obsession with food, whilst graciously answering our questions.
This cookbook is beautiful in every way. It is weighty but if anything, this is thrilling because I know it will be comprehensive, and most importantly, true to the different regional Italian tastes from Venice to Naples. This appeals to me as opposed to something like the Silver Spoon, which as many foodies know is the lexicon of Italian cooking (the Larousse for Italy, really), which I shamefully admit to you that I’ve never cooked from. Its so epic and to be honest, it doesn’t have pretty pictures and this does nothing for the salivary reaction that the home cook craves when choosing what to make next. In Bocca, the photography (by Howard Sooley) beautifully captures the food but also the Italian culture and countryside. However, what is different about this cookbook is that Jacob’s writing is wonderfully descriptive, imaginative, and most importantly, gives me warm fuzzies when it comes to the food. Even the raw food.
Jacob himself is warm and open about his love of food and as my friend said to me after, in his own way, hearing people talk about food in a way that speaks to me confirms that my obsession with good food and good eating is not really all that crazy. He has no favourite foods, he loves what’s been put in front of him and he’s completely unapologetic about being ever so slightly greedy when it comes to eating. To him, feeding people is about more than just food, it is about showing the people you care about that you love them. This I get. I am a feeder… I normally don’t get complaints from friends and family about my desire to feed them, but I do get the fear that when I am a ripe old age and still cooking for people I will begin to channel my Italian grandmother’s lovely skill of forcing more food on people than they really need. But hey, we love you, its what we feeders do.
I will leave you with this: when I asked Jacob about my pasta maker sitting on my shelf collecting dust, I expressed my concern over my inability to make a small amount of pasta and therefore leaving strands of hardening pasta over chairs and drying racks. He gave me this tip – 1 egg (preferably Italian; something to do with the egg yolks being really yellow) to 100g of ‘00’ flour is the ratio. If the pasta over chairs is too much, stick to this and you can make as much or as little as you need. Amazing. Nonna would be so proud.
Fire and Knives Food Quarterly
This week I got my first issue of the Fire and Knives Food Quarterly. This is no throw away food magazine; this thing is a work of art. The Quarterly, founded by Tim Hayward, gives writers, both established and novice, the opportunity to write about food in a literary arena. Food as literature. I love it.
I’m only about a third of the way through but so far, I’ve read a brilliant article by Tom Parker-Bowles about the joys of that oh-so-English delicacy, the Savory, plus another great diatribe by David J Constable about the Scotch Egg. I had no idea reading about a Scotch Egg could be so brilliant! I wouldn’t touch them when I first moved here but had the change of heart when getting a taste at the Hinds Head in Bray (Heston Blumenthal’s pub). I have since learned that a quail’s egg wrapped in handmade sausagemeat and then covered in Panko is not standard… pity…
However, the best quote from this article is in the final paragraph:
“This spherical delight, then – like a model assembly of the sun – beautifully designed and crafted and ooohhhh, that memorable meaty aroma to treasure, as if God were to fart. It’s a winner, always has been. A masterpiece returned.”
What I love about the Fire and Knives Quarterly is that writing about food has suddenly become clever, erudite, and less about feeding oneself, but more about treating it as if it something to be thought about in the same way as painting perhaps, or even design…food considered in an intellectual manner…even if Constable did mention God farting, I’m sold…