Thursday, July 30, 2009

I am in support of Pineapple Alaska

There I was at the Bazaar - or "Bazar", as they call it in Montreal - last summer (Catholic, lots of old lady skirts in autumnal shades for sale, teeny-tiny sweet nuns who could probably tell I was a never-active non-believing Protestant who quite likes C of E churches and cries at carol services), stocking up on 1930s French books, and what did I find but an entire set of Marguerite Patten recipe cards (1967, rev. 1973), translated into French and on sale for only $5?

An idea sprang into my gigantic brain! I would create a new game called Marguerite PotLuck, in which we would dip our cautious hands into said set of recipe cards and cook (and eat) whatever came out, even if it was (and excuse me while I go and experiment "live") Veau Tyrolien or Salade de Hareng. This idea seemed quite brilliant on 8th May 2008 and still is, I believe, quite marvellous.

Over a year later, I am lying on the sofa sucking absinthe through a straw and watching the 'tele' when the people start talking about a new film with Mrl Strp in it called "Julie/Julia" or somesuch. It is about a cook and another cook and it looks quite good. But what is this?!! My keen monkey eyes are distracted by a flash of light that bounces off my glistening glass, throwing into sharp relief the spine of a handsome book on the top shelf. It is called Julie and Julia!!! This is incredible.

A preposterously handsome French friend of mine (who has taken a violent interest in English food and spends much of his time making walnut pickle), gave it to me when I started writing this web-blog. "Darleeng. You must read this. She had a blogue. Now she 'as a book. And darleeng, when are you going to do your cookeeng show on YouTube? You would be MARvelloos." But I did not read it; instead it, like the rest of my books, was left in London for three years whilst I skipped about in other places, including (but not limited to) Amsterdam and Montreal.

Anyway, I picked up the book the other day and started reading it. If you do not know about it (which you probably do), it is the story of a lady who decided to cook the whole of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and write a blog about it. I am really enjoying it; it is charming, in the way Nancy Mitford is charming (no, don't ask me why, I know what I mean), and it has made me think all sorts of things, namely:

1. This blog is now over three years old;
2. In it, I have rarely talked about the things that I really enjoy doing every day; the things that I spend a large part of every evening and every weekend doing.

Those things are:

1. Cooking
2. Shopping for food in shops that sell nice food
3. Cooking
4. Shouting at recipe books
5. Cooking
6. Eating toast and spitting crumbs at The Food Network
7. Cooking
8. Shouting "fuck off!" at Iceberg lettuces
9. Making jam
10. Getting really, really good at making bread
11. Doing complicated things with gelatine
12. Thinking about putting Jamie Oliver's tongue in a tongue sandwich and feeding it back to him.

But I digress. I am very angry because the Julie lady has already done this thing that I thought was so amusing and original, i.e. take an old cookbook and cook out of it and write about it.

This happens to me a lot. I am always having really excellent ground-breaking ideas (for e.g. I invented pepper mill fillers, those loo roll holders that work and jam and peanut butter mixed together in a jar, to name but a few), and then I realise that someone else has done it already. It is the same with Marguerite PotLuck, which is sort of the same idea as Julie and Julia, but with photographs that will enable to reader to view and judge the comparative merits of my version vs. the 1967 technicolour photograph.

What do you think? Shall I worry less about originality (hard as it is to believe that anything I should do would be unoriginal!), and do it anyway? I could be posting about organising my wedding, but frankly the 120 votive candles and candle holders that I ordered when I was drunk turning up at the office today is about as interesting as it gets, and I think it is time to do something I will enjoy very much indeed. And anyway, don't you want to know how the Ananas Alaska turns out?

NB: There would be nothing amusing about doing this with Constance Spry or Elizabeth David, both of whom are from the olden days, but quite brilliant. There is definitely an argument for the comedy value of The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, but I will not laugh at it more than I already have done, for it is a wise and helpful book that I love.


PurestGreen said...

What a great post! Of course it's been done - what hasn't. And to that I say: Bah! Patooee!

I would really like to know how the Ananas Alaska, because if you write about your cooking experiences in this kind of way, the result can only be gloriously entertaining. I love to write about food but I'm never this funny. Sigh - oh well.

Lola said...

I still cook from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery! I love the way they have to insert a dairy product into each recipe, however inappropriate! But I still make the tuna pasta salad on a regular basis.

The Gripes of Wrath said...

But! But! Marguerite Patten is a GOD! She more or less invented carrot jam, did 101 things with Potato Pete that one just shouldn't ever mention and she even came up with recipes for snoek for pity's sake - and some of them were very nearly palatable, apparently. Bugger whether or not something similar has been done before: anything that keeps Marguerite's name alive can only be a good thing.

Damian said...

You must absolutely do it.

One criteria is that you must post the recipe in French, as it is on the card, but you do everything in English. (In other words, you must translate everything in your head, with the potentially hillarious consequences that will follow.)


Yeah OK then, I'll do it. And of course I'll post the recipe in French (I shall merely scan the card). I have no choice, for they are in French. And I am of course bilingual, as well as being an excellent tapdancer.


Welcome, Purest Green and Lola, and thank you for kind words. I am Feeling It, man.

Unknown said...

I am so glad that you have agreed. While I am not a cook (at all), I am so excited to read about this new venture. It will be fun and exciting. It IS a great idea. I agree with PurestGreen what the hell hasn't already been done. Anxiously waiting!

Megan said...

I was given a lovely little cook book with a fantastic forward telling how the author had been Begged and Pleaded with to produce this fine book by the dozens of women simply panting to know how to make these Very Inexpensive And Impressive dishes. All made with corn flour.

Also you can send free copies to your friends!

P.S. Buy more corn flour.

Haven't make anything from it yet but I do now, inexplicably, have two large boxes of corn flour in my kitchen.

punxxi said...

This should be quite interesting....are there many banana recipes in there Mz.Monkey?

Mr Farty said...

I am intrigued by the idea of Pineapple Alaska. You may proceed.

WrathofDawn said...

Yes! You must do This Thing. Julia Schmoolia. There is no possible way she could have put your excellent monkey touch on the project.

Are there any recipes using absinthe?

And will tap dancing make the cakes fall?


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