It’s 3.47 am on a humid Wednesday morning and one image after another flits across my eyelids. I’m trying not to open them so I can drift back to the land of nod, instead of mentally writing my day’s prep list while I wait for the sun to come up.
When you want to create, it keeps you up long after you should be … and wakes you before you’re ready. For me it’s flavours, or a new technique that I’d like to try. There’s this burning desire to invent, and to present something new to a raptured audience.
I guess it’s the same for an artist – dreaming up colours and mediums into exquisite images, and then trying to transfer the dream to paper. Even if your intended audience is only yours truly – you want brilliance don’t you? It’s nice to wow, and it’s nice to be wowed.
One of my favourite stories of creative gourmands belongs to Grimod de la Reyniere – the original restaurant critic. An eccentric host, and son of a rich farmer general, his rôti sans pareil (roast without equal) boasted no less than 17 birds, stuffed inside of each other. Grimod is famous not only for once inviting guests to a dinner where he dressed a dead pig in his father’s clothes, but he also faked his own funeral in order to surprise attendees with a miraculous ‘rise from the dead’. There’s a man who’s comfortable with his own creative genius.
Kitchens have always been full of misfits, who are full of passion. We’re a bit of an awkward breed and maybe that ‘s prerequisite to choosing a career in a kitchen, or maybe it’s the creative power impregnated into the heart of kitchens that moulds us.
Essentially though – it’s the same for me when I walk into a kitchen as it is for you. We both imagine we’ll take the best of what the season’s offering and create a dish that’s truly divine.
For March, as autumn ushers it’s way in, think beetroot, avocado, eggplant and cauliflower and you’re on your way with the best of the season’s offerings. Autumn’s fruit are some of my all time favourites too – pair pomegranate with finely sliced fennel, mint and some persian fetta for a salad that is at home with lamb as it is with fish (and equally delicious on it’s own). Just don’t be afraid to create – nature gave food the most vibrant colours imaginable, a million different textures and endless combinations. I will never, never get sick of watching someone close their eyes while a slow smile creeps across their face when eating something I’ve made. That’s what we do it for.
So till next time, I’ll leave you with two of my favourite quotes.
From Julia Childs “the only real stumbling block is fear of failure” and from the great Grimod himself - “Beware of people who don’t eat; in general they are envious, foolish, or nasty. Abstinence is an anti-social virtue.”