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After I’d come down off the high of our Michelin dinner I thought I’d just look into the humble pea and its origins.

As ever when I want to read about vegetables I tend to turn to Colin Spencer’s brilliant and humbly titled The Vegetable Book. It rates in my top 10 food books of all time, about which I will post one day. I say food books rather than cook books, because it is so much more than a recipe collection. It is, for me at least, the finest kind of food-related writing. A potted history, followed with descriptions of the various varieties of selected vegetables. Interspersed with advice on choosing, nutritional information and original ideas and recipes. It is a superb book.

In amongst the delightful writing Colin likes to drop in a few historical quotes. I particularly like this one is about peas.

According to Colin the French court Louis XIV was besotted by green peas, as Madame de Maintenon wrote in a letter dated 10th May 1696 :  “this subject of peas continues to absorb all others. The anxiety to eat them, the pleasure of having eaten them and the desire to eat them again, are three great matters which have been discussed by our princes for four days past. Some ladies, even after having supped at the Royal table and well supped too, returning to their own homes, at the risk of suffering indigestion will again eat peas before going to bed. It is both a fashion and a madness”

The history of food I think is a fascinating subject. In this day and age of any food, anytime, from anywhere in the world it gives us a glimpe of how things used to be. A time when we couldn’t have anything we wanted, whenever we wanted, and when foods that we take for granted now, like peas, were a novelty.


For Rob.

Dinner last night turned into very fancy affair from humble (frozen) beginnings.

I’ve called it : Breaded fish goujons, organic pomme-puree, freshly podded garden peas with reduced tomato coulis served 2 ways.

Good, but could try harder

My first attempt wasn’t too bad, but I wasn’t quite happy with the mash (sorry, organic pomme purée). It was a little lumpy looking. Some of the streaks in the ketchup reduced tomato coulis needed tidying up also. So I had another go, determined to get it right!

I think the swoop of the ketchup beautifully accentuates the shape of the quenelle of mash, with the peas offsetting the overall shape of the dish. The fish fingers providing an unusual yet amusing counterpoint. (seriously, I think there’s a career for me in writing pretentious food descriptions!)

Back up Heston, there’s a new boy in town!

If you don’t know Jamie, where have you been? If you’re from the UK he’s quite difficult to avoid.

He has his critics out there (as anyone famous does) and he has his fans, I fall into the latter category.

He’s had a lot of stick over the years, partly I think it comes from this peculiar British behaviour that, because he’s doing well we cannot celebrate him, just berate him.  He does a lot to promote good food, good practice and his work with Fifteen I think is great. Aside from his campaign with Sainsbury’s which has set him up for life (and who can say they wouldn’t do the same?) he’s had a productive and creative career thus far. If you put aside his on-screen personality for a while (which some people can’t stand) and look at his other more charitable work there seems to be a man with a genuine love, and wish to improve the lives of  his fellow man.

He started a campaign in the UK not so long ago to raise the standard of food in schools in this country. I personally couldn’t applaud it enough. Raising standards of food quality goes hand in hand with increasing health at every level for children, as well as the crucial aspect of education which means they can carry it through to later life & pass it on. It also means job satisfaction for the people cooking, serving it, and for that matter the suppliers producing it (although some would argue many don’t care). It has a myriad of benefits.

Jamie recently won the TED prize. This was no small deal. In fact a  big deal. A very, very big deal.  This prize is awarded to people with a wish, and desire to change the world, for the better (“One wish big enough to change the world” is the strapline). This award has previously been given to physicists, medical professionals, scientists and other important academics.

This year it’s being awarded to a chef from Essex??? Just fantastic news, I can only wish him well and all the luck in world.

A link to his acceptance speech here from his site. Definitely worth watching. Yes it’s playing to the American audience a bit and it’s quite polished and set up, but I was surprised at how good and engaging a public speaker he is.

Sadly, like him I’m an idealist, maybe that’s why I like him and what he’s trying to do.

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