Thursday, April 5, 2012

Culinary Darwinism and the clenched fist

Apparently you should never eat a meal larger than the size of your clenched fist.  Apparently, use of the term ‘apparently’ is the swiftest revelation that the forthcoming statement is either entirely contrived or quoted from a half-read diet column in an out-of-date waiting room Grazia. In many cases, it may be both.

But let’s assume for a moment that this ‘fact’ is true.  Many a question it does raise. For example: If you clench your fist at the table, can you do so and not burst into a Fee-Fi- Fo-Fum? How do you simultaneously clench a fist and hold cutlery with modern decorum? Can I use a Space Bag to compact my meal for measurement? Why are my hands not bigger?

Simon's fingers are long and he prefers the hand span measurement approach.
Yes, Simon, this is edible in its entirety.
I am a consistent abuser of this proportionate theory of consumption.  My fist of reference is more the size of a novelty NBA fan hand than my own little clencher. If I could fit a hotel breakfast buffet into the volume of my hand I would, but no amount of cuisine Tetris is going to make that happen.

Yep, that ought to do me...for lunch.
In fact, if I can fit my hotel breakfast into the volume of my hand I am obviously approaching the buffet offering wrong…or I'm staying at a crappy hotel.  The Breakfast Buffet Methodology involves the following sequence of events: Muffin, fruit, skip the cereal, breather, hot buffet, breather, pastries, fruit, muffin for later, breather. The End. That’s a lot of handfuls if properly executed.

Certain venues, aware of my skills at the buffet, prefer to opt for pre-portioned breakfast servings.
But I would like to protest at this point that I am not a glutton. As larger people have ‘big bones’, so do hungry people I have ‘healthy appetites’.  Maybe I’d be better to say apparently I’m not a glutton. But increasingly I find myself  saving my fistfuls of consumption for things I really enjoy.  And the things I really enjoy are not as abundant as they used to be.

Now this isn’t me being picky and it certainly isn’t me dieting. As anyone who knows me is aware, I discretely display ‘No Dietary Requirements to be Requested’ posters at my dinner parties.  Pregnancy and allergy causing death are carve-outs.  Atkins is not. Go to the gym. I think this new wave of culinary Darwinism is attributable to me being completely spoilt for choice here in London now.  Disappointing dining also makes me sad. Actually sad. Only cheese, in wheel format, can help at such a time.

But back to London.  There is a new restaurant, food truck, wine-bar, bistro, food truck turned bistro-wine bar opening in this city every day.  It’s impossible to keep up, though indeed we try.  To make it through the new Soho openings of just the past few months we’ve started instituting a travelling feast approach.  Soho is the new breakfast buffet.  Drinks and bar snacks here, a few plates here, breather, a few plates there,  breather, dessert and coffee elsewhere, breather, cocktails. The End.   That’s a lot of venues if properly executed.

Enough!! Well not really, but it’s fun to be dramatic sometimes.

The more eating and exploring I do, the more I’m aware of what’s a gimmick, what’s a classic, what and who is really exciting and generally how I want to spend my nights and lunches out.  It’s entirely personal preference but I like surprises, thoughtfulness, intelligence, respect, flirtation, fun and generosity.  To clarify I am talking about eating out in all its guises and neither a corporate philosophy manifesto nor an eHarmony compatibility test.  I do realise I sound quite bonkers at times so I guess I’m lucky this isn’t an eHarmony compatibility test.

It might make me sound slightly less bonkers if I put a few faces to names:

New season brights on the De Camaron Salteados Taco
Surprises: Amongst the to be expected Mexican fare at La Bodega Negra we came across the Tuna, Chipotle, Avocado & Jalapeno Tostadita.  Chipolte mayo, raw tuna, an unexpected Asianesque twist and worth returning for.  Oh and the De Camaron Salteados taco took on the taste buds too.  Beyond that La Bodega Negra was fine, well OK, but for a couple of specific dishes and a cheeky margarita, give it ago.

Do I need a caption on this picture, it's largely self evident isn't it?
Flirtation: The packed and multilayered dining room at Ceviche with it’s close tables, bar spaces, warm lighting, loud and boisterous clientele is a perfect warm antidote to the sharp and after a while slightly homogenous citrus flavours of the tart Peruvian fad (I mean food)…not to mention the inevitable abundant enjoyment of pisco sours.  Maybe that explains the flirtation?

Fun: Late Sunday lunch at Honest Burgers in Brixton Village.  I’m willing to host a protein smack town to determine and crown the best burger in London.  Hell I may even don a bikini and hold the scoreboard.  But not after eating one (or more correctly three burgers between two people) of these guys. Drool.
Dear Knife.  I am tired of playing hide and seek with you.
I can see you under the rosemary fries and I don't need you anyway.
Love, Miss Devour.
Generosity: OK so this isn’t London so it’s technically off topic, but amongst the small plates served at Au Passage in Paris, lays a slow roasted shoulder of lamb that brings pure happiness to a table when torn apart and devoured with medieval fervour.

Dear Knife,
As I said in my last letter. We don't need you anyway.
Love, Miss Devour
Respect: Sadly I don’t have a photo of anything I’ve ever eaten at Koya.  I enjoy it too much.  Or I’ve burnt my mouth or I’ve flicked broth in my eye.  I even enjoy that. The noodle (spoken in the voice of Po’s ‘Dad’ in Kung Foo Panda 1 and 2) are unbelievable, the flavours clean and delicate, the experience entirely and consistently satisfying.

OK so this weekend, I finally managed it, a photo at Koya! Duck hot pot.
Intelligence: It’s a sad and often denied reality that my financial resources are finite.  Dinner in, a rib of beef, bottle of wine is a less rare but always wise plan of action.

Still nuts?  Probably, but only enough nuts to fit into a clenched fist.  Apparently.


1 comment:

Shu Han said...

I don't believe in that clenched fist diet portion. The most miserly, shabbiest sandwich is bigger than a clenched fist haha. It's not about how much you eat anyway. If it's good food made with love v.s. a Mars bars (which will happily fit within a fist), I'm going to go for the first!

Oh, this i's the first time I'm here, but I enjoyed your writing, it made me smile on an otherwise boring (but at least sunny) day. Ok enough distraction, back to work. x