Still funny after all these years...the 'Italian food song' will have you crying tears of joy...if it doesn't you probably shouln't be reading this blog!!
I love food...for the unexpected tastes that transport us back to happier times in our own personal narratives...the subtle evocative smells of other peoples cultures that escape from foggy cafes or over laden market stalls on cold mornings...for the actual planning and preparation and anticipation of pleasures sure to come...but more than anything else...for the shared common humanity that a convivial meal of simple tastes and complex friends lends itself too..."I am a human being and we all matter if only to each other"
To my mind...and I've said this before...the best food critic I have ever read is AA Gill in the London Sunday Times.
Unfortunately the Times now charges for access to its main website...and so many of you will never be able to read his reviews.
I was particularly struck this weekend by his review of an Italian restaurant and his musings on Italian cuisine...they struck a chord...
...this time one year ago I was in Johannesburg,looking after my brother who had just had major heart surgery...and also...sadly...waiting for my lovely dad to quietly fade from our life...
And I shared many good meals at many familiar places with my children...and ate a lot of my meals with their mother and step father....and standing chatting in the kitchen or at the family table amidst the bustle and easy chat of a shared meal of familiar tastes,the waiting was made a little more bearable.
And so....and I hope the Sunday Times doesn't hunt me down and make me pay...but please find below some of the best writing on food you will ever read.
(I have edited it and indeed re-arranged it a little to suit this post)
We, in the north and the west, for all sorts of cultural, habitual and climatic reasons, eat food that is complicated, with more ingredients and combinations, deeper seasoning, than the Italians.
It’s often said that Italian food relies on simple, perfect, raw materials, eaten for their own a cappella clarity. That’s true up to a point.
But there is something else, something more fundamental in the way Italians eat.
When they taste, they don’t taste what you taste. They’re very Catholic about the orthodoxy of dishes, the correct way of making things.
When they eat, they don’t just eat what’s in front of them, but they taste all the other times they’ve eaten this, and there is the merest hint, a subliminal whisper, of all the people and places they ate it in, and who cooked it for them.
Italians are particularly prone to the comfort and reassuring nostalgia of food.
They eat with a childish verve and enthusiasm, and exuberant remembrance of their homes, their mothers, their lovers and their Vespas.
Italy is a country united by language and religion and divided by almost everything else. What it can boast is a plethora, a diaspora, a minestrone of regional cuisines.
Take the panforte you’re buying for Christmas, a mixture of sugar, honey, nuts, dried fruit, spice and flour baked in a shallow pan.
It’s from Siena.
Not from Tuscany, just Siena, where they’ve been making it since the 13th century. Yet, still, no two confectioners in the same street will agree on an authentic recipe.
And while Sicily has a cuisine completely different from the Dolomites, so one village will make its pasta quite unlike the pasta half a mile down the hill. Indeed, individual families have recipes they guard and swear by that are not to be confused with the neighbours’.
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London Sunday Times