on the different speeds of fast food….

There are few months of the year which I don’t consider to be the very best time for cooking as I’m more than content to cook with each season’s offerings. On reflection, the only times when I am not happy to cook are those times when I am not happy and the long sunny days of June, when night is an after thought, are not such a time. It might be that summer food is less demanding, that summer cooking demands less cooking, less sturm und drang because the kitchen gardens and the orchards are filling the shops and markets with the fastest of fast foods which, for their short lives, are full of their intended flavour unlike their bland doppelgangers who are miraculously on display for the full twelve months of each year and whose lives appear to be without end or point…..which brings me to remember why I started writing this piece. Yesterday evening I turned on the television to find myself looking into the eyes of a man who stood immobile, perspiration running down his face, whilst the voice of a female martinet demanded that the next thing she wanted to hear him say was a number and nothing more. The perspiring man’s eyes suggested that he didn’t know the number that would satisfy her but settled on £2,o00,000 which can normally be counted on to please the angriest of martinets. It transpired that he was being questioned about his business plans by possible financial backers and that his business was a chain of fast food restaurants. It was the intervention of another of the grand inquisitors that caught my attention. His opening address was to tell the dripping victim, while brandishing a copy of the restaurant’s menu like a damning piece of evidence, that not only was his plan rubbish but even his own children could have designed a better looking menu than the one in his hand which statement produced a flicker of hope in the prisoner’s eyes as he considered asking how much they would charge for such a commission but thought better of it, much to my disappointment. The tirade of abuse moved on to the descriptions of the food on offer and the fact that there were only twelve options of fast food dishes on the “badly designed menu”and if he, the grand inquisitor, was going to eat out somewhere he would expect more variety to which the beggar in the dock replied “but there are over 12,ooo possible combinations that you could order from the crap on my menu ” ( I added “crap” in the spirit of Gerald Ratner who was doing very well selling crap until he advised his clientele that what he was selling them was indeed crap). Breath taking. The show was over for me at this point and undoubtedly over for him but I could just press a button to end the pain. What interested me was the inquisitors’ condemnation of a plan that seemed identical to the main fast food outlets in the world who all have “badly designed menus” and who all sell a drearily limited range of foodstuffs that can be ordered in a multitude of combinations and that are loved by the majority of living beings ( dogs will eat Mac whatevers but I fucking won’t) and which, more to the point if you are a putative financial backer, make unbelievable fortunes for the purveyors. But, as I have successfully remained unencumbered with a fortune I’m probably not the right man to question their judgement…..and so back to fast food.

The dish in the picture, which comes from a feature on Summer Anitpasti written by Rachel Roddy, is as fast as a dish can be save eating a pea from the pod. Courgettes are are cut into long strips, with a potato peeler or mandolin, seasoned and marinated in lemon juice with torn basil leaves. We ate it as a side dish with a very good baked omelette, stuffed with rocket, and served at room temperature more of which at another time.

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.
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26 Responses to on the different speeds of fast food….

  1. Sue says:

    Very good….I am with you in eating seasonally, abhorring bland doppelgängers and Mac whatevers …..

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I thought of you (briefly) as I walked around the Soho Food Feast yesterday. One of the restaurants (Andrew Edmunds) produced perfect little steam puddings filled with pork and bacon in a savoury sauce. I talked to the chef and praised his lamb puddings from the previous year. He said he’d cooked the filing for 3 hours and then steamed the individual puddings for another 3 hours. He also confessed that the first batch had gone wrong, so he had to start all over again!
    I like the idea of courgettes and omelet – I brought the egg lady in the market, some turrón from Spain and now she gives me all her broken eggs!

    • Sounds wonderful, the Soho Feed Feast…I look forward to your annual report. Those little steamed puddings sound superb…that’s Andrew Endmunds of the Lexington St restaurant, I’m assuming. which I haven’t been to since the early 90’s when I would often be in Soho at editing suites and other post production…about the only thing that I miss about making commercials…oh, and the money. Love the idea of exchanging Turon for eggs..we exchange stale bread for our neighbours rabbits in exchange for eggs:)

      • Mad Dog says:

        Yes Andrew Edmunds on Lexington Street. I don’t know how many puddings he made, but I’m sure it must have been close to 100. Exchanging stale bread for eggs is even better than Turrón!

  3. Linda Duffin says:

    Rachel has the gift of creating recipes I always want to cook. That programme, on the other hand, is one I can never bear to watch. It’s so cruel. Ditto the hideous series where Gordon Ramsay shouts insults at hapless American restaurant owners. Constructive criticism is one thing, but they make it all so gladiatorial. Whether that’s an indictment of the producers or the viewers I’m really not sure.

    • I so agree….I should make it clear that I’ve never watched Dragon’s Den but obviously knew of it…this was a moment of turning on a TV to see the close up of a tortured face…watched until the menu debacle! I not a fan of the celebrity chef..my loyalties lie with the likes of Alastair Little, Fergus Henderson, the Sam’s of Moro…kind people who love food. I was shown the light by Terence and Caroline Conran in the early 70’s…I owe them a great deal.

      • Linda Duffin says:

        I’m with you on all of the above though I do have a soft spot for the much-maligned Jamie Oliver. At least he puts his money where his mouth is. Lx

      • This is true….but I think he is slowly withdrawing the money from the area of his mouth…the magazine has been sold, Jamie’s Italians are closing, etc…sign of the times. However, his good work in engaging young people in food can never be forgotten…..and he gave my son an awful lot of photography for his magazine, so he’s a complete hero:)

  4. jmcheney says:

    I grow lots of arugula (haven’t ever called it rocket) & stuff it into everything. So much so that my son once said, Mom, could you lose the arugula? But I just couldn’t, so now when he comes over, he just eats it. I have to grow a lot because I share with the neighbor boy across the street for his dragon lizard, Merlin, who eats it really fast with fine messes of mealy worms. It does go well with everything. The very taste of summer! (though Merlin & I eat it year round.)

  5. Ardys says:

    Looks delicious. Must try. I make a similar ‘salad’ with ribbons of cucumbers, dried chilli flakes, olive oil and fresh lime juice studded with feta cheese.

  6. Francesca says:

    Ah, another gem Roger, with some memorable Roger quotes ‘I have successfully remained unencumbered with a fortune’ and studded with German references that required a quick wiki search. Rugola is such a wonderful wild weed. Keen to see your baked omelette.

    About rugola ( eruca sativa) and terminology by country. Rugola and Rucola ( Italian) Arugola and Rocket ( American), Rocuette ( French) Rocca ( Greek) Rauke ( German) and so on. In Australia, it goes by the Italian, french and American names. I have a preference for the Italian.

  7. Eha says:

    It has long been beyond my comprehension why people fail to have plates like the delight above on their table and wait longer and pay more for something called ‘fast food’ . . . methinks they were short charged at birth or a miserable childhood with love in their souls . . . . I guess I call ‘those greens’ ‘rocket’ not knowing that supposedly is American and not my usual parlance: well that is the name on the only packet I have access to at my supermarket 🙂 ! Brilliant photo, Roger !!

    • Thanks Eha….with regard to the name..I have always heard Americans call it Arugula and, up to now, have never heard or read an American living in America call it anything but Arugula. Roquette is on French packs and Rocket in England….I like the name Rocket as it is apposite for the peppery, explosive taste of good Rocket:)

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