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Good Things

21 November 2002

Oh, where have all the weblogs gone? Long time passing...

Nah, I'm sorry, I really shouldn't sing; but nor should I let so much water slip under the keel, between one log and the next (sing ho, for a beautifully accurate nautical metaphor! The word in this usage derives from a chunk of wood, or log, that was slung overboard on the end of a knotted line; count the knots as they tug between your fingers, and after I think twenty-eight seconds or thereabouts, you know how fast you're going, how many knots. Write it down, keep a record - and that's your logbook. Honest...).

Truth is, I've been writing an award application; than which there is no activity more uncreative, more deadening to the mind. Plenty of scope for jokes, of course - "ah, another piece of fiction, then, Chaz?" - but no, actually not. I find myself scrupulous on these occasions, punctilious to the point of obsession - and utterly unable to do anything more stimulating at the same time.

It's pretty much done now, though, and it needn't be delivered till next week, so I can take a couple of days out. So I'm cooking again. I'm doing a dinner at Kate's flat tomorrow, with a couple of other friends coming round and a small swarm of young persons. Happily, the young persons will have been fed before they come (Rule one: never cook for other people's children or cats), so I'm just going to win their everlasting affection with a couple of unexpected desserts. I'll make 'em a chocolate-and-raspberry pavlova, just because I can; and in the oven at the moment is a gāteau de Pithiviers fondant - basically an almond cake. The recipe comes from Jane Grigson's Good Things - as does the story of the other speciality of the region, the gâteau de Pithiviers feuilleté. This is another almond cake, this time in a puff pastry case; but the mixture is enhanced, apparently granulated by the traditional addition of a roasted and minced pig's kidney. Sometimes I think she makes these things up, just because she can. In English Food, bless her, she gives a prizewinning Chinese recipe for Yorkshire pudding, which not only includes an ingredient that no one has ever heard of (tai luk - apparently a Chinese herb, but none of my Chinese friends can help) but also demands cooking for 20 minutes 52.2 seconds, which has got to be a joke; neither ovens nor watches nor quantities are ever that accurate. She didn't make up the story, though; it's attested - along with the equally bizarre Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race - at Bare Ingredients.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.