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Miss J

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  1. British cuisine has a well-established bad reputation (as most of us are reminded fairly regularly). St John is a restaurant which seems to take great pride and inspiration from its British approach to cooking and ingredients. When you opened St John, were you motivated to rehabilitate "British cooking," or is this just a side effect of your particular style?

  2. What else would prompt such a paranoid conclusion that we don't criticise these cuisines because of "political correctness"?

    Sorry to interrupt, but I just have to cackle hysterically for a few minutes at the mild suggestion that Tony of all people could be "politically correct."

    :laugh::laugh: (where is the "wiping tears away" emoticon? :wink:)

    Steve, I take your point about gravy. However, I think we can safely assume that "gravy" is a handy English word being used to describe a handful of "wet" Indian lamb dishes. This in no way means that they are actually gravies, or that they even look the same. (For the sake of argument, let's leave the spices out of it for a moment.) Westerners might well see 15 different ways of flavouring moules as being the same dish, but then it does look pretty much the same. (It's the shells, man.) However, different Indian lamb dishes in different types of sauce/liquid may not look even vaguely similar. And to take the point further, when a Westerner says "gravy" s/he means something rather different than what moistens an Indian lamb dish. So your point is dependant on semantics, really.

    So there. :raz:

  3. Do you think that an ingredient like Sichuan peppercorns could be used to prepare a non-Sichuan dish, in a way that wouldn't seem trite or be immediately labeled as 'fushion'?

    What, like my absent-minded attempt to make a Sichuan peppercorn crust for salmon using my super-active peppercorns?

    Adam, it's not nice. Trust me. :blush:

    In all seriousness, I don't think intelligent, complex use of spices can just be grafted onto Western style food. It takes a long time to evolve a cuisine, and cultures develop specific techniques and spice combinations through trial-and-error. That's why fushion's such a tempremental beast: when it's pulled off it can be stunning, but all too often it's a mishmash.

  4. Hoo boy - Saffy, that's a big question.

    My friend in Phnom Penh learned to cook mussaman curry in Chiang Mai, and the version she was taught didn't have potatoes or nuts, and was dark and rich instead of pale and coconut-creamy. When she invited a fellow NGO worker over for dinner, he insisted that her curry wasn't like any mussaman curry he'd ever had before. She was completely bamboozled.

    When I got the David Thompson book, I looked up the mussaman curry recipes with this in mind. Interestingly, he provides a dark, dry-ish curry without nuts or potatoes which he says comes from Burma's Muslim population. There's an indication that the sweeter, nuts-and-potatoes version is from the south of Thailand and is Malay-influenced.

    I haven't tried the Burmese version, but my mate says it's really good. I may give it a try this weekend and report back.

  5. I like spices. Obviously they shouldn't be used to "cover" poor ingredients or bad cooking, but when they're used harmoniously they're wonderful. I would almost always select a well-spiced dish over a beautifully cooked plain, with a few notable suggestions (steak, perfectly fresh seafood, very ripe tomatoes).

    This is why I love SE Asian and Sichuan food so much. :wub:

  6. But then an adjoining table appproached the waitress and the manager to 'confirm' that we had in fact certainly not asked for the second pizza to be packed up (as if...), and this really swung things back the way of the house.


    That is completely insane. What could have motivated them? :shock:

  7. I've seen lots of white asparagus here in the UK, and in Paris last weekend. I've never cooked it though. Is it best steamed? I notice seawakim has eaten it in gratins or with rich sauces - is it best cooking IN the sauces, or with the sauces on the side?

    I'm quite fond of "forced" veg (ie, those that have been grown with an absence of light) - they do tend to have a different flavour. At the very least, I don't knowwhat I'd do without the bright pink, tender forced rhubarb we get in the shops in January. :wub:

    As for regular green asparagus, I also support steamed with incredible olive oil, lemon and black pepper, or roasted with balsamic vinegar.

  8. Worked at home until the wee hours last night, so ended up eating porridge with maple syrup, linseeds and a drizzle of double cream for dinner, and an apple for dessert.

    I felt like a student again. :sad:

  9. I agree there's a whiff of what I call "small country" syndrome in the article, and the last line underscores it. However, I'm still think there's a valid point buried under the "hey, we Aussies can teach those Frenchies a thing or two about how to eat!" overtones, and that's the lack of veg in a certain type of French dining experience. While the article is less than honest in it's description of this experience as being THE Parisian dining experience, it's still a style of dining that I suspect is becoming less and less common. Usually these days if you order something fatty or richly braised in a restaurant it will either be paired with some sort of veg-type accompaniment, or there will be an option to order vegetables separately. For an Australian thinking about travelling to Paris, understanding that it's not considered strange to do for a meal in a good restaurant and not have a host of veg offered could be useful.

    And okay, I'll admit it. I was just a little weirded out by the pommes puree-only policy at Luna. Perhaps I ought to have started with the lobster salad just to work a few leaves into the meal. :wink:

  10. I thought it was interesting that her general comments were reflected so perfectly in our anecdotal meal at Luna (beautiful fish, lots of butter and cream, one lonely little pot of pommes puree), as well as a few others we had over the weekend. I ended up coming home and buying almost nothing but veggies for the coming week.

  11. A casual egg & veg meal:

    Cubes of butternut squash, strips of red pepper, minced garlic and freshly ground coriander sauteed until nicely caramelised, then combined with rocket and beaten eggs and stirred until it formed a softly set eggy- veggie mass. Served with croutons fried in EVOO and a spoonful of sambel olek.

    I am SO getting into eggy dinners. :wub:

  12. KatyW, I'm firmly convinced that the average consumer isn't aware of a good 10% of what s/he's eating. Back in the days of my vegetarianism, I was a dedicated label-reader who was stunned by the number of "stealth" meat products that crept under most people's radar. Chocolate-covered biscuits (cookies) full of fish oil, sweets based on gelatine, wines filtered through fish skin or egg white - it was a never ending battle to keep myself truly meat-free. And I was trying to. It may not have been the main reason why I went back to meat-eating (er, that would be the siren known as bacon), but the constant vigilence did take its toll.

    At the moment, the onus is definitely on the consumer to take the time and effort to find out what they're eating - a particularly miserable situation for people with nut allergies.

  13. Vanessa, it was. Although as Mr J had gone into his rucksack under the pretense of doling out some dark chocolate, I confess I stared bemusedly for a couple of miliseconds when he presented me with a ringbox instead. Some part of my brain was still grappling with the, "hey...that's not chocolate," observation before I could answer. :laugh:

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