I was sad to hear of Egon Ronay’s death over the weekend. He was one of the foodie greats, and said it like it was.
I wrote this a while ago, and hope it pays tribute to a great man
Is There Anything New Under The Sun?
“It might be a bloody cheek. But so what? It goes on all the time.
Chefs travel the world looking for dishes and try to imitate them in
their own menus. That’s how good cooking spreads – it’s what food is
all about. Frankly, in my view, it doesn’t matter”
I read this quote recently whilst reflecting on the plethora of
media and literature that inhabits the Foodisphere. ( Spell check alert
– have just invented a new word)
As food lovers we live our lives surrounded by cookbooks, TV
programmes, specialist magazines, web sites and of course, blogs. We
have never had such a huge resource available to us. My cookbook
collection stands at around 500 books, and is still growing, and I
couldn’t even begin to estimate the number of food web sites and blogs
that I follow.
The thing is, I have slowly come to realise that there is an increasing
degree of cross over in material. My husband (no cook I might add)
glibly comments that there can only be a certain number of permutations
of say, cooking a prawn. I tend to agree. Many writers offer an new
aspect or presentation on an old classic, which is refreshing and often
inspirational. New ideas on a standard are always welcome. Frankly,
some of the material is a re -hash of old ideas, very often from
established food writers who are much lesser known, except to an
I do find however, that the food magazines are the most guilty when it
comes to this – As I am magazine starved, (French foodie mags are
really good by the way)my husband brings me the offerings available in
Stansted Airport on a Friday afternoon. It saddens me to see that there
seems to be an almost zealous desire to create dishes from foods that
are “in season” – the net result being all too often that magazines
print (almost) identical content, give or take the odd prawn. ( Sorry
if that sounds a bit flippant). It may sound a little negative to say
this, but if I buy three magazines, I get the distinct feeling that
they almost merge into one from an ideas perspective – not the best of
deals when you consider the price.
My most recent tack in this thorny subject is as follows:
I visit the UK quite frequently and have taken to the delightful task
of buying second hand cookbooks from charity shops and the like. I
additionally frequent the “bargain” book-sellers and they have some
first class deals – my most recent coup was a meat cookery book by the
iconic Frances Bissell – it was modestly priced at £3 and I duly bought
three copies – one for myself, and one each for my mother and daughter.
In short, I feel that I am getting far more “content” and absolutely no
advertising which seems to invade every page these days – a necessary
evil I know, but it overwhelms good content all too often.
Post Christmas sale shopping additionally netted in writers such as
Gino D’Acampo, Aldo Zilli, plus the cookbook from the “Great British
Menu” series on the BBC.
Rich pickings for magazine prices.
So, perhaps Mr Ronay had this topic sewn up – food is presented in an
ever increasing number of variations, but at the very heart, it is,
after all, only food