Friday, 11 July 2008


I have twin passions, both are closely related. One, as described yesterday is my garden and the other is food. I love food (as my size surely testifies) and I am evangelistic about "real food". I really don't want to eat pre-processed foods and never did, not even before reading books like "Eat your heart out" or "The vitamin murders". These books have just strengthened my resolve to cook from fresh ingredients and to try to always buy packet foods that only contain ingredients that I'd recognise from my own store cupboard.

So, if a pack has hydrogenated vegetable oil or E-whatever or inverted sugar syrup or aspartime or any other man-made "nasty" then it doesn't find its way into my supermarket trolley.

Of course this means that "convenience food" is almost impossible to buy. The only company whose products I trust totally is Covent Garden Soups. Read their ingredients and compare them to the wannabes in similar packs on shelves and in theirs you'll see real ingredients and in the wannabes you'll see toxic chemicals.

So, I cook.

I cook from raw ingredients and our diet is better for it. I make pasta from eggs and flour, bread from flour, yeast, sugar and water and sauces from fresh, seasonal vegetables and local cheeses.

Why then do I not "love" any of the telly chefs in the way I love Monty and Geoff? I don't know. I admire many of them - you can't fail with a Delia Smith recipe even though I'm appalled at her latest series, Jamie Oliver has some great ideas and is good at the simple stuff and Gary Rhodes is clearly a terrific chef, despite his somewhat dubious hairdo! Others I can't abide - you can put James Martin and Anthony Warrell-Thompson in this category. To me, they are the Alan Titchmarshes of the food world - they seem more interested in celebrity status than food.

So, this morning, when I was woken up by Antonio Carluccio using the phrase MOF, MOF on Radio 4, it stuck in my mind. Maximum of Flavour, Minimum of Fuss - yep, a good philosophy and a good way to remember not to get too clever in your food preparation, even if the English is a bit Italian if you see what I mean!

Depression has caused my passion for this principle to grow because I've been reading scary "save the planet" books although Claz, who has just gone home after a few lovely days here, says that I need to ditch them in favour of pulp fiction because I'm getting so disturbed by what I read. She's probably right so I'm going to go out and buy a pile of chick lit books and immerse myself in nonsense for a few weeks.

I've learned that food for the soul isn't always in the places you expect and that sometimes the "good and worthy" can be dangerous when you're already struggling to find a way out of the abyss.

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