June 10 ...
Thinking of the words yummy and yum-yum for yesterday’s post led me to consider other words of appreciation that we use for food. The first word that popped into my head was the very uninspiring , delicious, which did not immediately suggest a story. Sometimes (as you may have noticed), a short trip into the Oxford English Dictionary will rescue me – so there I went. The OED says that delicious means ‘highly pleasing or delightful; affording great pleasure or enjoyment’. No argument with the editors there. In tiny print underneath this definition however, was the qualification ‘In mod. use, usually less dignified than ‘delightful’, and expressing an intenser degree and lower quality of pleasure.’ I am both intrigued and frustrated by this sub-text.
Firstly. I had no idea of this particular nuance, did you? The ability to assign a greater range of nuances of dignity to a dish is wonderful news. Take, for example something like a deep-fried caramelised anchovy with truffled rhubarb puree and mustard foam. A pretty dignified dish already. If it is slightly less than pretty dignified, I can refer to it as a deliciously dignified deep-fried caramelised anchovy with truffled rhubarb puree and mustard foam. Alternatively, if it is totally over-the top in the dignity stakes, it is a delightfully dignified deep-fried caramelised anchovy with truffled rhubarb puree and mustard foam. Restaurant reviewers take note.
I have some difficulties with the second part of the phrase however. The OED seems to suggest that a delicious dish (compared with a delightful one), is simultaneously more intensely pleasurable and yet gives a lower quality of pleasure. After my initial excitement about the nuances-thing, I am no longer sure I can use the words accurately. Can anyone out there help, please?
Here is a culinary challenge. Could you invent a pudding that is not only delicious, but also elegant, uisng the humble potato and the mush method. One cook has already done it.
The farina of potatoes, or potato starch, is said to make an elegant pudding. The following are the ingredients: To one quart of boiled milk, add, gradually, as in making mush, a quarter of a pound of potato flour, well pulverized, a quarter of a pound of sugar, and a little butter; when cold add three eggs, and bake it half an hour. When well prepared, and properly cooked, it is delicious eating.
[American Farmer, 1829]
Tomorrow’s Story …
Dying for food.
Quotation for the Day …
Nobody seems more obsessed by diet than our antimaterialist, otherworldly, New Age, spiritual types. But if the material world is merely illusion, an honest guru should as content with Budweiser and bratwurst as with raw carrot juice, tofu, and seaweed slime. Edward Abbey.