Saturday, April 14, 2012

Toss Cheese

I have a new cookbook in my collection. It advocates that we sane and healthy people Make a Meal of Cheese.

According to the book, however, only hard British cheeses can be used to make a meal, and despite a chirpy guide to regional hard cheeses (Wensleydale, Cheshire etc), all the recipes use only four to 8 ounces of grated or cubed cheddar. That's all the recipes. ALL of them. Including the recipes for apple crumble, lemon tart and curry.

Yes, cheese curry exists: mattar paneer is delicious, rich and mild good stuff, one of the very few dishes that can convince me (momentarily) that vegetarianism is bearable. Saag paneer, paneer tikka... cheese curry works if the cheese is curry-appropriate and the sauce / preparation is decent. Cheese curry will NOT work if the cheese is cubed cheddar, lying like heavy rubber dice in curry powder soup. Putting sultanas in the mix is just insulting. The 1973 Cheese Information Service, Thames Ditton Surrey: how dare you? Really, really HOW DARE YOU? Cheddar, curry powder AND sultanas... it's a recipe that cynically assumes no one made it out of the 1960s with a braincell or tastebud intact. It's just... rude. As is this:

After scrutinising the recipe many, many incredulous times, I cannot see how or why this is 'toss'. There is no tossing involved. Cheddar, it seems, is a gateway to bad culinary behaviour, and the 1973 Cheese Information Service was perhaps an unwitting warning system of the level of craziness you could reach if you did indeed try to Make a Meal of Cheese. For example: with too much cheese in your diet, you could be led to believe that, honestly, using bananas instead of leeks is an excellent idea.

Too much cheese too close to bedtime can give you nightmares. Too much cheese too often can obviously turn your life into a living nightmare. 1973 Cheese Information Service: thank you for the valuable (and illustrated) lesson in having too much of a good thing and ruining it for everyone.

16.04.12 UPDATE This is why blogging is worth it: until I posted this, I didn't know the The Vintage Cookbook Trials existed. Here, the team at The Vintage Cookbook Trials has dared to MAKE DISHES FROM THIS BOOK and eat them. See the horrors brought to life. And pray for their souls.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Grief Cake for Bleak Kids

Parents of young Goths always struggle to find appropriate birthday cakes for their kids. It's an annual dilemma: you want to celebrate the passing of another year and the onset of maturity in your offspring. As responsible and loving parents, it would be nice to mark the passing of childhood, to look proudly into the eyes of the little tot you taught to walk, talk and maybe ride a bike and see an adult, ready to make their mark in the grown-up world.

This may be hard when the little tot has become a pre-teen bea
nstalk attempting to eat Cheez Stringz while wearing black lipstick. It is difficult to embrace adulthood with a 13 year old who insists on wearing a squeaky faux-leather floor length trench coat bought with a slightly more experienced Goth friend in Camden Market. How can parents realistically organise a birthday party for their child who now doesn't believe in birthdays because they have become a Vampire of the Endless Ones (on Fridays after school and most of Saturday and Sunday except when visiting Grandma)?

But the solution is here: the Grief Cake for Bleak Kids!

From the brilliant Good Housekeeping's Picture Cookery book which has featured many times before, this cake is the solution to placating the Goth child who still expects a birthday cake despite rejecting sunlight, colours and generally being upbeat .

The uneven layers and tar-like topping of the cake are depressing, and suitable for any amateur young Goth. So sad, so poorly executed, it's a stack of baked tears streaked with deathbed poetry.

The little figures on top signify the emptiness of being, the formlessness of human misery. We think we are all individuals with our own unique, bleak lives to struggle through, but really, we are just unidentifiable blobs trying to stay afloat in a sea of black hopelessness. These can be made out of marzipan or some mashed up, re-formed chicken hearts left over from a badly improvised Satanic ritual. Goths love thrift! Your Goth child will be impressed with your handy use of blood sacrifice leftovers.

Your Goth child will also appreciate the diseased and dying little people you can make to cling precariously to the side of the cake. Use lots of dessicated coconut in the pastry (Goths love coconut!) and be sure to burn the edges just enough to give your decorative figures that "singed in eternal damnation" look. Use a Hieronymous Bosch painting full of pain and suffering as inspiration. Find and apply the most unappetisting raisins you have, to make the aghast look of unending pain on the biscuit faces especially tortured.
The face of your Goth child when you reveal the Grief Cake for Bleak Kids. Revel in the misery and horror you have given to your little one; be sure to capture the grinding unhappiness drowning their soul on camera. When they cry and demand a Marks and Spencers chocolate caterpillar and promise not to wear their removable blood splatter tattoos at the dinner table any more, get them to sign that prepared contract you've had in a drawer since puberty broke into your house... and relax.
These moments are what parenthood are all about.