Friday, July 20, 2007

Colonel Moseley's Stereotypes: The Foodie


There only thing that Robin liked more than waking up to Giles Coren on a Saturday morning, was breakfast in bed on Sunday with A.A.Gill. Personally devoted though he was to these giants of culinary criticism, however, Robin’s only real passion extended to food.

As a child, Robin’s parents saw nothing unusual in their little boy having no problem eating egg whites, broccoli or liver. What seemed a little strange in a nine year old was a precocious taste so early for organic produce or what he termed “real coffee” and “decent bread”. Although a little unsettled, they sighed and took comfort in the thought that fastidious eating habits were to be preferred to glue-sniffing.

In time, as Robin’s precocity extended to plover’s eggs, artichokes and foie gras, they began to wonder where they had gone wrong. Perhaps if they had insisted on his reading The Bumper Fun Book for Boys rather than Elizabeth David’s “Mediterranean Food”, this unnatural vice would have been nipped in the bud. They recall thinking it was a phase which would soon pass, but came to recognise how wrong they were. Soon, he graduated to even more exotic fare, such as the works of Eliza Acton and even Brillat-Savarin. By the age of fifteen, the die was cast; their Robin was a confirmed and practising foodie.

As a young man a considerable proportion of Robin’s income was spent on his passion. Birthday money and savings were invested in Le Creuset cookware and a full set of Michelin Guides, rather than rap CD’s and trainers.

Day trips were made to the culinary centres – Bray for The Fat Duck, Ludlow and Hibiscus and Anthony’s in Leeds. Foreign travel was also gastro-centric. For Robin, Florence meant Enoteca Pinchiorri rather than the Uffizi. Lyons was synonymous with Paul Bocuse. Rather than MoMA and SAKS, New York meant Balthazar and Gramercy Tavern.

Latterly, Robin’s overriding interest lay in molecular gastronomy. A poster of Heston Blumenthal adorned his kitchen wall. He loved the invention and wit of some of his signature dishes: sensory jokes with hot and cold and confusions of colours, aromas and even noise. It was food where nothing could be taken for granted, where memories could be triggered and games played.

This led him to devour all he could read about his hero, the originator of this gastronomic necromancy, Ferran Adria. Each year Robin planned his prospective holiday around the possibility of securing a booking for dinner at El Bulli, Adria’s legendary restaurant in Roses near Gerona in Spain. Every year along with literally 400,000 other supplicants, he failed.

Invitations to dinner at Robin’s were much sought-after. Guests relished the eclectic mix of dishes and wines, with many a reference to current celebrity chefs: from Heston’s egg and bacon ice cream to Gordon’s peanut butter parfait. Unfortunately, Robin’s exquisite taste and discriminating palate was so well known and intimidating that no-one was ever brave enough to invite him back.

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