I suppose gout is quite an apposite affliction for food and wine amateur, which creates images of a testy Colonel Blimp on the subcontintent demanding another chota peg from the memsahib whilst nursing a gouty foot. Such a condition found me, yesterday, in the waiting room of our local doctor where I waited, and waited whilst being lucky enough to be surrounded by a brace of babies on full volume and quite a lot of ill people. I’ve been reading a riveting book by Margaret Visser called “Much Depends on Dinner” since the late 1980’s and I’ve just reached the salad. The book describes the history and development of the ingredients of a simple meal: Hors d’oeuvre- Corn with salt and butter, Entrée – Chicken with rice, Salad – Lettuce with olive oil and lemon juice, Dessert – Ice Cream. So it’s taken me nearly 20 years to get to the lettuce. Maybe “riveting” is not the mot juste. Engaging might be a more accurate adjective but the problem is that I only read this book when I’m in the waiting room of a doctor’s surgery, so it’s quite encouraging that it has taken me this long to reach the salad. I have an ominous feeling that this may be the book of my life, so I’m hanging back from dessert. I may have to have a fresh look at the hors d’oeuvre, no point in hurrying one’s lunch ( I nearly wrote “meal” which is another of my most disliked words along with “toilet”) The token dish today is roasted Mediterranean vegetables with a good spoonful of soured cream. No time for explanations as, with the gout suitably tamed, I’m off to the Charente to do some photography with Mary Cadogan – her of the cool cookery school – so I’ll shall be eating well. A bientot.