The Grinspoon Gourmet Column

This Week — Orgy Food for Pouffy Parties

Well, my loves, my charming bosses (ooh and are they bossy!) have given little me the honour of presenting you with just a few tiny ideas to make your sugar mummies and daddies happy over the festive season (you’ll need sugar daddies to make some of these ‘dishes’ or you’ll be ‘up the Yangtse’ for the rest of the year! Never mind though, I hope to tell you all about budgets in the New Yearette) but I got out of it by getting my lovely Aunty Hilda to write it for me.

Miss Hilda Grinspoon’s Hints For Parties

That naughty nephew of mine has been badgering me for a few recipes for his comic. He’s a ‘doll’ really, but he does go on so!

Well, he tells me he wants some aphrodisiac* recipes to get his parties to go with a swing.

I can’t think why because whenever I’ve been to them they’ve been the sort of affairs where one can’t hear oneself think for Mick Jaguar records blaring out the sort of noises associated with the local abbattoir – or a Turkish brothel – (Oh I’ve been around a bit you know – I took young Julian in 1967 to a lovely place in Constantinople, oh, we had a lot of fun). Last time it was so hot I just had to go and compose myself in his bathroom – but unfortunately it was fully occupied. It looked like the wrestling scene from that Jane Russell film. Women In Love.

I could swear I saw that lovely Mr Reed in there, as large as life and twice as active. Ah well, you young things really know how to enjoy yourselves. We claimed to have done a thousand things in my heyday, but I’ve never actually met anyone who’s done the Black Bottom, we were all much too prejudiced. But I wander – well I did find some ideas for food to tickle the palate – a friend of a friend of that lovely Norman Douglas gave me one or two hints from his vast store of knowledge. But for aphrodisiac food you’ve got to be in the mood – and that’s half the battle!

(*He spells it afro-disiac)

Drunkard’s Soup (Soupe a l’Ivrogne) —

Julian’s naughty uncle used to have gallons of this when he lived in a Paris garret in the ’20’s. It’s supposed to sober you up!

Thinly slice 1 lb of onions (Spanish easiest) and cook them in a heavy-bottomed pan until soft and transparent. (Don’t let them brown). Season with fresh ground pepper, add two-thirds pint of beef stock, simmering 15 mins. (If you use a stock cube, simmer first with an onion, carrot, some parsley and two sticks of celery for 10 to 15 mins. It’s called ‘improving’) – sieve and then use. Then add ½ bottle of champagne – the better the champagne the better the soup. Let it come to simmering point (below boiling point) then take the whole rind off half a camembert cheese, cut it into thin slices and float these on top to form a covering. Bake in oven preheated to gas mark 7 or 425F for 20 mins. After 15 mins add some dried breadcrumbs to soak up the fat and return to oven. Serves four amply

Anchovy Toast —

(Anchovies have long been famed for their lust-provoking virtues) Cut some slices of bread, toast nicely, trim to any shape required. Have ready a hot water plate (you could put mixture into a bowl, place in a pan of very hot water) on which put four ounces of butter; let it melt; add the yolks of four raw eggs, one tablespoon of anchovy sauce (good delicatessens and Fortnum’s should have it Nepaul (Cayenne) pepper to taste. Mix all well together, dip toast in, both sides; let it well soak into the mixture. Serve very hot, piled on a dish and garnished with parsley.

Sweet and Sour Pork –

(a pleasant change for Christmas fare)

A. 1 lb loin of pork (expensive cut!)
1 tbsp. Sake (Chinese/Jap) or dry sherry.
2 tbsps. soy sauce (most delicatessens)
2 tbsps flour
1 tbsp cornflour (supermarkets etc)
Oil for deep frying (large pan)

B. 3 green peppers, quartered, seeded.
1 round onion (4oz quartered)
1 carrot (4oz cut into small wedges and boiled 8 mins)
1 bamboo shoot cut into small wedges (tinned – delicatessens, supermarkets)
2 slices pineapple (tinned, each quartered)
5 tbsps oil

C. 6 tbsps sugar
4 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp wine or dry sherry
2 tbsps wine vinegar
4 tbsps tomato sauce
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with ½ teacup water

1 Cut up pork into 1 x ½ inch cubes and mix well with other ingredients, except oil.

2 Fry pork in deep oil until crisp and golden brown. Turn out onto plate.

3 Heat frying pan (the bigger and heavier-bottomed the better) add 5 tbsps oil and saute B ingredients. (To saute is to fry quickly without burning ie stirring well)

4 Mix C ingredients in bowl and add to sauteed B ingredients in pan.

5 When mixture boils up, add mixed cornflour, stirring all the time (use a wooden spoon-

6 Add the fried pork and mix well. Serve hot. (Good with plain boiled rice)

Julian says there’s nothing like hot pork and when I said it was to be sweet and sour he said, ‘Oh well there’s no accounting for taste’ – half the time he talks in riddles – but they always gobble it up at his parties. I’ve always enjoyed a bit of pork, it’s so versatile.

The dear boy had to have this recipe included, he says it reminds him of ‘Halcyon days with the Navy’. I can’t think why – he was too young for national service…

Bananas in Navy Rum

Two bananas each.

Slice the bananas longways, putting them into a well-buttered dish (fire-proof) sprinkling them well with brown sugar. Put another layer of bananas and repeat until full, then sprinkle sugar over top, pour dark Navy-type rum over the top at the rate of one tablespoonful per banana. Dot it with butter and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at about gas mark 4-5 or 370-390F.

Julian assures me I’m writing all this for ‘a load of old qeens’ but old queens don’t read comics – at least I hope they’re above that sort of thing, although I heard Prince Charles has been known to browse through the occasional Dandy and Beano…

My Book Of The Year

Food comes slightly after sex and just ahead of the music of Purcell in my list of favourite things. I read cookery books like novels and occasionally cook like a novelist. But I suppose I have always regarded food from a sensuous point of view, certainly not from a social, political or economic standpoint. Until that is, I read this book called Technological Eating, by Magnus Pyke. It was published in February, is slim (107pp) and quite expensive (£2.50). But it is truly mind-bending in that it bends the thought into all sorts of directions, not all intimately connected with food.

Dr Pyke is President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology of the United Kingdom, but before pelting him with slings of rehydrated potatoes and spun-protein steaks consider his thesis. His book is really about the way in which technology affects social behaviour and he believes (and most surely demonstrates) that by discussing oven-ready chickens and fish fingers we can learn more about what technology is doing than by thinking about communication satellites or nuclear power-stations. This is one reason why his book is so good, so readable, his examples and subject-matter are everyday things that we all have intimate experience of.

He is saying, quite simply, that the application of technology to food is breaking down all hitherto accepted social structures; food becomes increasingly distanced from man. The only possible provenance for a fish finger is a factory, so where do dietary laws come in? Technology is a divisive influence

in society and he compares the fragmentation of Western industrial communities with the coherence of the extended family system “in which claim to quite distant cousinship is a valid title to food, shelter and support”.

I recommend this book for its facts – did you know that a large American engineering firm had devised a lettuce harvesting machine that picks up four rows at once. It is so efficient that only 600 machines would be needed to harvest all the lettuces in the world. The engineering firm is reluctant to manufacture it.

I recommend this book for its ability to move thought from big, unmanageable concepts towards simple, everyday experience that has a greater effect.

I recommend this book for its humanity, wit, sense and eventual optimism, for its sharp criticism of our consumer-conscious society fixed on acquisition and money value.