the importance of being honest…


Cookery writers busy themselves creating and revising the culinary zeitgeist at a faster rate than I can digest. My years of going through the annual charade of nodding in agreement, whilst trying not to nod off, as one was briefed on photography for the Christmas edition with those ominous words that ” This year we’re going to do Christmas with a twist”,  is happily in the past. Magazine food editors and cookery book publishers have applied more twists to the groaning festive board than those applied, as chinese burns, to the wrists of a groaning Tom Brown by a bored Flashman (it’s worth mentioning that the ever creative Flashman added an extra twist by having a go at cooking Tom’s arse on an open fire, which could also be read as a cri de coeur against 19th century school food, invariably served without a twist (pace Oliver), at Rugby School ). The fact of the matter is that there is but a limited number of foodstuffs that are readily available, and palatable, to those of us who cook, as part of living a life, as opposed to those who have chosen to forage for rarities in the wild or to travel in search of wind dried entrails in the souks of Samarkand. No twist will replace the quality of well cooked, well chosen, ingredients. The corollary of this premise is that a mouth watering twist which has been crafted from exotic words and beautiful pictures, rather than good cooking and good ingredients, will most certainly involve eating a pretty, but unpalatable, silk purse rather than a mundane, but very good, crisp sow’s ear. True to the tradition of “Carry On Cooking” I must admit that it was my nuts that set me to writing this piece. The simple walnut tart that featured in my previous post came about through my noticing and buying a big bag of very good walnuts from Grenoble, for very little money, from a nearby supermarket. There is a real pleasure in cracking open a pile of  walnuts and finding that, instead of the contents resembling a dark and desiccated brain from a shrunken head,  each and every one reveals and releases an unblemished golden kernel. I get the same buzz on opening a fat bulb of butter yellow garlic with the heel of my hand or on lifting the saucepan lid to see, through the curtain of rising steam,the orange slivers of fat juicy mussel flesh revealed by the gaping black glossy shells. Nothing replaces good, fresh ingredients…nothing.

As a final caveat, I advise you all to steer clear of adventurous cooks. Ask yourself if you would be happy with an adventurous pilot, an adventurous taxi driver or an adventurous dentist…..Captain Cook was adventurous and that didn’t end well.



About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2015, Baking, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Illusion, Mussels, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, seafood, tart, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to the importance of being honest…

  1. Vicki says:

    Love the golden light on those walnuts and fat juicy mussels.
    I always get hungry looking at your photos.

  2. “. . .Captain Cook was adventurous and that didn’t end well.”
    On the contrary, Roger, it ended very well. You taught us how to play cricket and now we regularly thrash you.

  3. Angeline M says:

    OMG, thank for a very good morning laugh! Will you now please give us that mango crumble recipe?

  4. suej says:

    The importance of being earnestly honest! Or even honestly earnest… Whatever, give me that tasty sow’s purse any day 🙂

  5. catterel says:

    I ned to buy a bib to wear when I’m looking at your photos 🙂 Oh those mussels!

  6. I really enjoy your posts, Christmas with a twist had me giggling.

  7. Great post,
    I smiled all the way through:)

  8. Definitely not interested in an adventurous pilot 😦 Great read, as ever, and we bought back some gorgoeus walnuts from France last month and they were perfect…unlike the sad old dried out ones I bought and tried to eat at Christmas. Now…did someone mention mango crumble?!

  9. Eha says:

    Don’t quite agree with your Captain Cook comment either: don’t know whether I would be a gloriously happy Aussie if history had evolved somewhat differently 😀 !! [But cricket: methinks we better try and not copy the British tabloids just at the moment . . . don’t worry: our news last night firmly stated that an Aussie coach was to be sent over to the UK in a hurry! Mmh: four months to the Ashes I believe 😉 !]

  10. Nice juxta position, Mussels and Walnuts……. walnuts have an interesting architecture in itself, they look like little brains to me. I am honest..

  11. Captain Cook. Don’t start me on that pompous little bastard! c

    On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 8:35 AM, Food, Photography & France wrote:

    > Food,Photography & France posted: ” Cookery writers busy themselves > creating and revising the culinary zeitgeist at a faster rate than I > can digest. My years of going through the annual charade of nodding in > agreement, whilst trying not to nod off, as one was briefed on photography > for “

  12. Mad Dog says:

    If only they had made Carry On Cooking, when all the stars were alive and well… 🙂

  13. I like the texture of the nuts in the first photograph. Almost disappointing that it’s just an image on my screen.

  14. As Jean-Pierre says: “La vie nous fait décortiquer bien des choses.”!
    Beautiful kernels.

  15. Michelle says:

    It’s all gotten to be incredibly silly, hasn’t it?

  16. Haha I am glad I’m not the only one who has this brain association with walnuts 😉

  17. Your post certainly took us on an adventurous ride from walnuts to mussels. Now if that isn’t cooking “with a twist,” what is?

  18. I think this has to be your best post ever, Roger, and I *think* I’ve read them all. Either you’re a very interesting author/cook or my insomnia is to blame! I wanted to say “hear, hear!” but someone was first in line, so instead a “well said!” will have to suffice.

    Unfortunately, I could not resist, either, and opened the lid…errr…url for the pig’s ears. My Gibson (the LAPrador) would eat them although he prefers the crispy ones.

    While I was not convinced of the merits of snails by one of your earlier posts, I would certainly scarf down these mussels!

  19. ardysez says:

    When I first saw this post come to my inbox my eyes rested on those walnuts. I saved the post until now when I had time to properly read it. Wise move. Very enjoyable, couldn’t agree with you more about simple, excellent ingredients being of paramount importance to eating well. I’m very tired of the chef-y chefs. I cook more and more like my grandmother every year! And I’ve never seen a photo of walnuts so beautiful. Luckily it is autumn here and I might even find a few in the coming weeks.

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