27 October, 2006

In search of Perfection

I keep meaning to post up a cathartic rant about how I'm always staying up late and watching crap films on TV. It drives me crazy. I used to berate myself for wasting my life away by getting stoned and doing nothing. Then my asthma got too bad, and I cut back and then gave up smoking pot. Next I berated myself for drinking most days of the week, not necessarily heavily, but, you know...
Now I just berate myself for watching crap and wasting my life by being permanently tired.
Anyway, last night, I got back from watching Little Miss Sunshine at the Orpheus (which was brilliant) and managed to not collapse in front of the telly, but nevertheless stayed up late reading my new book.
In Sarch of Perfection

I bought this half price on Amazon.

That Heston Blumenthal is a bloody great genius (is what he is). I'm not entirely persuaded that I would like him, but I certainly respect him to hell and back.

This is the accompanying book to an upcoming BBC TV series in which Dr Blumenthal (recently granted an honorary degree by Reading University; he aspires to write a paper on Umami in tomato sauce)creates some very standard everyday meals. The twist is he makes the very best version of them that he can possibly muster. Last night I read the chapters on roast chicken and roast potatoes; bangers and mash; spaghetti bolognese and pizza; and I don't think there was a single recipe at the end which you could easily cook in less than a day.
I mean, let's take the example of a roast chicken (and I hope I don't spoil this for anyone here). He tracks down the finest breed of French chicken living off the perfect soil and running free. Pickles it in brine, roasts it slow with regularly thermometer probing, injects flavoured butter into the flesh and then fries the bastard up in a frying pan to make it golden brown.
It's not a typical chicken.
I was quite expecting him to go for the standard haute cuisine of par-boiled potatoes in goose fat, but to my surprise he boils them for about 20 minutes until they're barely held together and then roasts them up in olive oil in a separate pan to the chicken!
I'm not sure I totally agree. But the man is a genius and I haven't tried his version yet, so he's probably right. I'll have to track down the specific family of potato first, too.

Anyway, the book is brilliant, he describes the history and beauty of each dish, travels around to find the ultimate suppliers and goes into great detail about the molecular composition of the food, how it's usually done wrong and all his reasons for doing the weird things he does.

In all honesty I'm expecting another late night of reading definitive recipes and exhausted mental self-flagellation.

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