Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Floyd, my food hero
For me, food divides my life into acts.
When I was very young, it was the time when I only ran into the kitchen to scrape out and lick clean the kenwood mixer bowl and the tongue-testing kenwood beater. As I got a little older I realised that if I stayed in the kitchen throughout the weighing and mixing process I could cadge more of the raw mix as well as lick the spoon as we formed the little mounds of batter on the biscuit trays.
Then I was twelve and desperate to experiment with cooking chinese foods at home, making very basic combinations but serving in (to my innocent eyes) the most exquisite bowls bought on my first awe-inspiring visit to Chinatown.
Soon after that came vegetarianism which, in a timeline, combined with our household gaining 3 extra teenagers at the same time as my mum starting teaching again full-time. And that was the catalyst for my learning to cook in huge volumes, on a budget, vegetarian chilli, curries and stews. Beans and vegetables with mounds of rice or home grown spuds to serve 6 seriously hungry teenagers and some left over for mum and dad.
And then came Floyd.
Bursting onto our screens in 1985 he was a larger than life figure who exhibited all the most exotic and yet, to my suburban existence, downright riské traits of drinking and sometimes even swearing on tv whilst creating truly exciting food. I loved every performance and taught myself to drink vast quantities of red wine (Sainsburys Jumilla in a tetrapak, genius packaging btw!) which was a great achievement after teenage years of cider and whisky (eurrgh!).
But more than that, Floyd taught me to look at and care about the ingredients - and therefore - and the food that I made. From him I learnt that you had to start with good basics, and, that good basics were not necessarily the ones with the poshest labels. He taught me that the food from our garden, which I had always dismissed as 2nd rate with blemishes and maggot holes, was better and fresher than supermarket transported ingredients. That fish from our local fishmonger or meat from the local farm would be better quality than the supermarket frozen packets (how did I know that before, I was 17?) and that these ingredients, prepared with care, some garlic and a glass of red wine, would make a delicious meal.
Cook's perks: the joy of cooking at home with a glass of wine, one for the gravy, one for the cook! As I pick up a glass of wine whilst I cook a sunday evening supper, I am often reminded of his sometimes joyous and sometimes frustrated performances which left me, as a viewer a safe distance away from his sharp tongue and sharper wit, always smiling and always, always more informed as a cook.
Thank you Floyd!