ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Pornographic Joy

Over the past week I've had to firmly bite my tongue and reign in some of my more controversially heartfelt opinions, following the passing of certain individuals with whom I probably would not have got along.

But I face no such moral dilemma today.

Cards on the dining table, I'm genuinely saddened to hear about the death of Clarissa Dickson-Wright, one of my favourite 'celebrity chefs' - if such a tawdry description isn't doing her a disservice - and a truly great English eccentric.

The finest foodie television of the late 1990s saw Clarissa infamously paired up with Jennifer Paterson, an equally outspoken lady of similar girth and uncompromising good taste.

It's been nearly 15 years since Paterson's death brought Two Fat Ladies to a premature end - Christ, time flies, doesn't it? - and it's strange to think that, at 66, Dickson-Wright is actually younger than Paterson was when they started making the series. Both taken too soon.



Eighty-Eight


A producer working on the show once described the 'pornographic joy' the pair of them took in using vast quantities of butter and cream as they prepared the rich hearty dishes that made them an overnight success, and it may well have been then that the term 'food porn' was first coined. Entirely appropriately too.

Will we ever see their like again?
They shared a love of good meat, a mistrust of diets and vegetarians and supermarkets, and a zealous enthusiasm for local produce long before it became fashionable to jabber about food miles while en route to the farmers market.

Their uncompromising philosophy was backed by no small measure of deep indulgence, and, quite probably, greed; all good, honest stuff with which I staunchly identify. And a world apart from the some of the twattery of latter-day celebrity chefs.

I never got to meet Clarissa or sample her cooking (nor she mine!) but I like to think that we would have had much in common, not least a lusty attitude towards life and food. And, until she stopped drinking, drink.

Even as a 'recovering alcohlic', she defied convention, famously keeping a well-stocked cellar for her guests and refusing to join the cavalry of sanctimoniusness.

It's not normally appropriate to raise a glass in memory of a deceased lush, but I'm sure in this case, Clarissa would be disappointed if we didn't make a bold exception. And, while we're at it, let's rustle up some extra buttery pastry and make a vast pie full of locally-reared meat, audaciously seasoned, with a decadently rich sauce.

It's how she'd like to be remembered, I'm sure. That and being one of the mothers of food porn.

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