Cultivating Cuisine: Learning to Cook

Sunday Telegraph Magazine  London, 1984-2006, 2,000 words; extracts  


Finally, on standards: "Better a properly boiled egg than a trumped-up soufflé."

Finally, on standards. ‘Better a properly boiled egg than a trumped-up soufflé.’

Russell talks in the same psychological spirit about what makes somebody a good cook. "You must know how to judge yourself, to recognise your own limitations." 


She puts a lot of the problems of post-war English cooking down to middle-class entertaining to impress and magazines selling themselves on photography of food beyond most people’s range of culinary ability. 

Equally, she sees an acceptance of limitations as one of the keys to other strong cuisines. "One may make an absolute division between dishes to make at home and those to eat in a restaurant. For instance canard au sang, tête de veau - all very nice, but usually one would not cook these at home in France because it's difficult to do that properly. Instead one may go out and find a restaurant where they are specialités...."

But she is optimistic about English food. "Let us say it is has been limited in recent times. I think everyone must admit that. But things are changing for the good - now the English actually talk a great deal about food, for example. There will be a return to simplicity, I am sure, in home cooking. That in itself, curious as it sounds, could be a good thing...."

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