Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Flash Gordon

Gordon's latest missive - Fast Food turned up today and my first thought was that it was nothing special! But what did I expect? It's not a passionate memoir detailing several generations of anecdotes, reminiscences and recipes like Pork & Sons or Angela Harnett's Cucina or even Georgio Locatelli's Made in Italy - their books are soul food cookbooks! And I don't mean book about 'soul food' per se but books really written from the heart and soul of the writer with such evocative prose that takes you into their world and weaves some dreamy foodie spell over you.
Gordon's new release is nothing like that, he on a worthy crusade to get everyone back in the kitchen and he believes the biggest complaint it that we haven't got enough time. To challenge that belief he's come up with a manifesto for good, simple and speedy dishes and it's not going to win the Glenfiddich award for writing but it does what it says on the tin - it's food and fast! But don't get me wrong it's good food as well and when I examined the recipes in greater detail it had the desired effect, I immediately wanted to start cooking the very first recipe - leek, potato & smoked haddock soup. Then the next page is pea & mint soup with Parma ham with the stunning vibrant green offsetting the almost burgundy crunchy curls of Parma ham. And then further on I am so going to cook the scrambled eggs with crabmeat & chives, I whip up my special scrambled egg so often but never thought of adding a generous dollop or two of crabmeat. What a lovely idea! The veal piccata looks mouthwatering and then there's the simplest peppered lamb steak ever (ingredients - lamb & peppercorns) but it looks moist and delicious, or with a couple more ingredients there's Barnsley chop with garlic & herb butter. The brill with creamed cabbage & bacon looks rustic and moreish and how could I refuse sticky lemon chicken & champ? The easy lobster thermidor is calling to me as is the warm black pudding & quail's egg salad. The style of Gordon's books have really been evolving; the cheffy Michelin-starred lengthy recipes and immaculate presentation have been replaced with an earthier more casual approach. But again, that's what the book is trying to achieve, it has a touch of Nigel Slater's accessibility with dare I say it Jamie Oliver's food photography! Though the prose it entirely different, on my first reading it seems entirely devoid of "pukkas" and "bosching" a handful of some ingredient into a pan but there is definitely a similar refreshing purity. I'm fairly positive Gordon would choke at being mentioned in the same breath as Jamie but it can't be denied that many of the Gordon-dressed-by-Ted-Baker photographs at least wouldn't look amiss in Jamie's next book.
You're not going to discover anything about the man behind the food, apart from maybe the 'revelation' that Gordon loves sharp knives, but then who doesn't? But of course he has a biography out currently so maybe he doesn't want to distract from that. I noticed something quite intriguing in the latest Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine, they'd carried an interview with Gordon Ramsay in the last month's magazine and promoted this with a picture of him on the cover and this act had provoked an outpouring on the letters page. It seemed that as a habitual swearer he shouldn't be given any recognition and certainly not applauded. Well I don't swear myself but I was surprised that all Gordon Ramsay is known only for his swearing. What about his magical conjuring in the kitchen, does that not count for anything? Is everything he's achieved and clearly worked hard for negated by the fact that he keeps the 'bleeper' busy on television? How curiously narrow-minded! I guess they won't be buying this book either!
I think there's some undeniably tasty-looking and undoubtedly speedy dishes in Fast Food but personally I'm still hankering for a "homage to Hospital Road" book. Maybe Gordon feels that was all covered by his earlier books but it would be fun to see an El Bulli style coffee table book with high gloss photographs of awe-inspiring beautiful food piled artfully in the exact middle of one of his Royal Doulton ever-decreasing circles plate but maybe only gastro-porn loving cookbook geeks like myself would really care!


Deborah Dowd said...

I have to admit I love bad boy Gordon Ramsey (though I would not want to be in Hell's Kitchen!) However, something called "black pudding" does not sound good to me!

Richard said...

Given the similarity in title to Nigel Slater's "Real Fast Food", I think Ramsay would have been better using your title "Flash Gordon"!

BTW Deborah - black pudding is king!