Food can be romance for the tummy. Traditionally in Lancashire UK, through the 1800’s up until as recently as the 1940’s, a Courting Cake was baked by young women in the country for their betrothed as part of a courting ritual.
More recently Prince William and new wife Kate Middleton, rather, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, were presented with a Courting Cake before their nuptials in 2011. It was, and is, a loving gesture to bake a cake for someone. Be it family or friends. See how they smile widely like an excited child at Christmas as you present them with your delightfully impassioned, lovingly prepared treat . . . why not (as I sometimes do) bake yourself a cake? Love yourself! Love your food!
On the 1st July 1970 the now globally-recognised mother hen of cooking, Mary Berry, penned a first chapter in a large Hamlyn all colour cook book. The first pages contain recipes for Hungarian Lamb, Swiss Steak, Trawler’s Pie, Chicken Curry, Chicken & Mushroom Pie and Pork Tandoori, all enticingly accompanied by a full colour picture of the completed dish and a tip to turn the dish to a professional standard of presentation. Recipes all neatly laid out next to one another as if you are taking a journey around the globe through the pages and images in the book. At the time this was a relatively new occurrence. Berry states of her recipes:
“…there are also a good number of more unusual and imaginative ones, many of foreign origin, conjuring up the flavours of far-away countries or perhaps bringing back memories of a holiday in the sun.”
In 1970 to bring such a wide variety of global food pleasures all made easily accessible to a wide-ranging audience was something of a landmark in British cooking. Happily earmarking the beginning of a new chapter of freedom and fun with food. Berry enhanced people’s everyday life bringing more food freedoms into a home, to a British restaurant, to a work-place, in short, to within one’s inner self. Berry openly writes;
A firm power statement when viewed through a lens of life being a succession of adventures, hurdles and opportunities. No freedom more enjoyable than rejoicing in the luxury to choose what you cook and eat from such a delicious wealth of cultures. So why not have the world at your doorstep? In your parlour, fridge, freezer? The world in your tummy!
Food serves many purposes, aside of course from quelling our natural need for sustenance. With an array of food programmes now on our television screens, all globally accessible thanks to the internet, we are pulled into, educated by, and enthused with eager anticipation for a wide-ranging set of global culinary delights.
In a recent jaunt about India, famously talented, fish-loving chef, Rick Stein, flounced about energetically discovering the intrinsic qualities that make up a ‘traditional Indian.’ Interestingly it was put to Stein, indeed millions of viewers keenly tuning in (myself being one), the word 'curry' is a western creation not truly recognised in Asian countries. The word, from which the western world seeks to cover an array of wet and dry dishes of the eastern world, is much debated as to its origins. A word used in ‘Old English’ – ‘cury’, meaning ‘cooking’, which simply put, means, ‘any dish of meat/fish or vegetable cooked in a sauce.’
As Stein skipped about, energetically embracing families who cooked up the curries, it struck me that as a globally-recognised famous fish chef, who owns most of Padstow UK’s restaurant scene, why did he come to India to review anything and everything BUT fish?
We all, I am sure, have a ‘comfort food’. Mine is pasta. Always my friend if I am feeling fragile. That or chocolate biscuits dunked in a tankard of sweet tea. Berry continuously teases our taste buds with sumptuous recipe treats for everything from Melting Oat Crunchies , Chocolate Cream Fingers, and American Shoo Fly Pie to a Dutch shortbread biscuit, Botermoppen, in her 1981 cookbook, Fast Cakes. The title itself, a beautiful metaphor for a woman who, despite a life filled with heartache, from which she says “I had to learn to be strong in my solitude.” Berry rose to become the successful, uniquely talented, inspirational and passionately guiding food force woman she is today. She didn’t reside in a kitchen solely because society expected her to, but empowered women across the globe to feel they too could step out from behind the kitchen sink, rejoicing in oneself as an individual. An individual with personal pleasures and the freedom to be you! Berry offers a global malaise of cuisine to bring into your hearts, homes and lives if YOU chose to!
As a source of pure joy, with an abundance of food options available, dietary needs catered for, a 21st century kitchen in Britain resembles a fairground (to use this metaphor) of foods, utensils and, dare I write, a dishwasher? To enhance our lives. Adding food fun to the choices now available.
Many women, not just in Britain but across the globe, juggle a working life, home life, family life and food budgets, like a tightrope walker constantly balancing on a thin rope of time. Thus, to have such an affordable wealth of food options at our fingertips transforms the daily cooking into an adventure. An adventure stimulating some key senses, creativity of mind, soul and palate. To open a 21st Century fridge is like opening the doors to the globe. . .
You may even see a man freely washing up?