Why I no longer call myself a foodie

saffron_bunny_food_journalism_cornwallBeing a foodie was great. Once. I ate the food of some of Cornwall’s best chefs, hung out at festivals with my press pass, stayed overnight in some stunning seaside locations, received countless edible freebies in the post and even got to take my tastebuds to the pistes of the Dolomites and sample some of Italy’s finest. Hell, I even thought I was a half decent cook myself.

Tell people about it and they are naturally very envious. My husband is a bit miffed that he no longer gets to piggyback onto my fine dining commissions. So why have I given it all up? What’s not to like about free food?

It all got very boring very quickly. Don’t hate me for being ungrateful, I feel extremely lucky to have cooked alongside Paul Ainsworth, interviewed Nathan Outlaw and eaten with Rick Stein, but I just can’t do it anymore.

Firstly, food ‘fashion’ does my head in. Just as education should not be the political football of every newly elected party, so food should be left alone to the test of time and taste. What’s all this nonsense about local and seasonal and it was Mr Brown from Muddy Farm who grew our carrots today? What a load of old supermarket fictional faff. Yes, I love to eat Cornish and respect the changing bounty of the seasons, but I don’t need it rammed down my throat (literally) as if it were a new ‘invention’. The French and Italians would laugh in our rosbif faces: they’ve been doing it quietly for generations.

Secondly, writing a review of someone’s business is a tricky business. Perhaps a PR company set you up with the gig, so it makes it somewhat ‘awks’ if you then go ahead and slate their client. You get dinner, wine, possibly an overnight stay, all for free, so can’t help but feel a certain obligation to string together some glowing remarks, even if you don’t like underdone lamb and the white wine is warm. And in case you hadn’t noticed, this is Cornwall not London and I am no Jay Rayner. I have no right to potentially ruin people’s businesses in an already tough industry. So I’ve given up the constant tight-roping of compromise. Call me a fool, but I’d rather go out and pay for my dinner these days.

And finally, the latest sugar-free food trend brings up just a little bit of sick in the back of my throat. Self-righteous media-luvvy ladies of loveliness who bathe in coconut oil, #eatclean, turn vegetables into spaghetti and think that dates have no sugar in them. Food has become an expression of moral superiority over others at which point it stops for me: I’m doing no kneeling in front of any courgetti altar and there’ll be no repenting of gratuitous pork fat snacking any time soon on this blog.

I’d rather embrace the amoral delights of sliced white toast with Marmite, the best meal I’ve ever eaten at Treliske hospital after the birth of my son. I think that means I have officially resigned from the lofty towers of ‘foodie-dom’.








Welcome to gluten-free: the latest food fad

Food fads are never good. Sensible culinary countries such as Italy, France and Spain seem immune to our tabloid-fed paranoias about what to eat. It’s boring. And mostly funded by companies with a vested interest in selling us the food in the first place. Doh.

Read More

Praise the lard: a beginner’s guide

lardLard. Lardy. Or as the Italians romantically refer to it: lardo. The associations with shivering rolls of chubby flesh being chased around the playground are comic yet laced with danger. Far from innocent yet not proven guilty, accusations of raising cholesterol and clogging arteries have outlawed lard to the margins of our kitchens. Instead, taking centre stage in the frying pan is lard’s sexier, slimmer (and expensiver) continental cousin- olive oil.

But are we doing the right thing by cutting down so dramatically on something that tastes so good? Read More

I’m a foodie and I (dare to) know it, so kiss my foie gras.

Foodie (or foody). Gastronome. Epicure. Foodista. Gourmet. Gourmand. Foodlover. A complication of words to describe the very simple act of “ingesting things and then pooing them out,” (thedailymash.co.uk). Those words with obvious Latin or French roots are understandably class specific, yet it is the term ‘foodie’ that seems to cause most food writers and chefs to throw their eggs out of their Le Creuset pans. Read More

On eating alone


Eating alone, if it has to happen, is best celebrated. Copious amounts of vino locale however, in the broad light of day on a travel assignment in Ravenna once sent me into odd existential paroxysms of self-consciousness: that we die alone was confirmed as the waiter whipped away the second set of place settings with an expression of ‘non si fa’ (translation: it’s just not done). Read More

Stealth dining

Jerusalem artichokes and scallops replace placards and protests in a new type of political activism

A complicit, smiling stranger opened the door in a blue and white stripy apron. She ushered us downstairs to a room that looked like a baby restaurant: three tables laid for 16 diners, a screen in front of the loo and a wood burner. This was a restaurant but not a public dining space; a living room with no sofas in sight; someone’s house with total strangers walking through the door.

A few times a month, in three locations across Bristol, a new (ish) food phenomenon is taking place. It’s more pop-up than Come Dine With Me. This is a dining experience in the intimacy of someone else’s home that you pay for, advertised by word-of-mouth, twitter or facebook. Address and menu details are emailed a few days later.

It was like walking into a party when you don’t know anyone: all panicky smiles and hasty introductions. I had soon forgotten all names. Our places were neatly marked out, we chatted to our two new dining ‘friends’ and waited for the room to fill so that we could 1) stare at new guests as they entered and 2) eat.

We opened with nibbles and sherry, recently reclaimed from the grannies as an acceptable aperitif for those under 40. Alcohol, as always, proved the great leveller. Middle-aged ladies, a single man, a group of 20-somethings and two single ladies d’un certain âge, soon eased into the sounds of laughter, chat and the occasional squeal common to all dining spaces whilst the chefs moved invisibly between us with water refills and new courses. The BYO policy for booze meant that each party or couple catered for themselves, with a list of recommendations for each of the five courses posted on twitter for the dedicated.

Portions were small but exquisite tasting, prepared with a care to presentation and taste you would expect at a friend’s dinner party rather than in an establishment catering to paying clients. It was seasonal and ambitious British fare that had the Italian confidence to rely on simple, delicious flavor combinations. It all felt a bit naughty and tasted better for it. Was it illegal? Probably, but I’d say it was more a polite fingers up to the establishment from a generation whose only experience of political activism is choosing between Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, locally-sourced or organic, Hugh or Jamie. Long live the revolution I say.

For more information please contact:                                              http://www.nowthatwouldbetellingnow.wouldnt.it

Saffronbunny waves goodbye to the leftovers of 2010 …

… and speculates on the new foodie trends for 2011.

2010 was cupcakes, all sugar and no substance (a marketing dream) and the year in which a swede was not a swede but a turnip when in a Cornish pasty and all across the country (yet to reach Cornwall) secret supper clubs were springing up in people’s homes. So what delectable trends will be amusing our bouches in 2011?

Apparently Homer’s favourite snack will go posh, yes gourmet doughnuts will replace vacuous cupcakes, veg growing will be a vertical affair in the cities, cherry juice is the new pomegranate and foraging is now a double Michelin starred activity, thanks to best restaurant 2010, Noma.

I’m also pinning my pinny to the resurrection of the medlar and the quince, fabulous forgotten fruits. Top foodie moments for me in 2010? Discovering Hope’s divine hip ruining pecan and cinnamon buns down on The Lizard (www.hopesbread.co.uk), Nigel Slater hiding in his garden eating homemade jelly on the telly and Cornish Blue getting big cheese at the World Cheese Awards.

What can we expect not to change in 2011? Expect the consumer conscience-wringing of what to buy and where to source it to continue (cue: four celebrity chefs in a sardine tin), supermarket food labeling to remain an esoteric art and for the Cornish food revolution to continue. So get out there and find tonight’s dinner in the hedge while eating a doughnut without licking your lips and you’ll be bang on trend for 2011.