✓✓ Read Receipts: Simple Gluttony

A photograph of a soft fried egg, slightly crisped at the edges.
Photo by Bon Appetit

The past month has been good for cooking. This is despite using the most inefficient gas oven ever—it only appears to have two settings, off and warm. A while back I made roast pork loin for the coming week. The pork remained soft and juicy while the crackling was firm and crisp, speckled with the perfect amount of fennel, salt, and black pepper—nothing else. Later on, I got round to making my first ever loaf of bread. The proofing and the baking took twice as long due to my cold house and cold oven, but it was worth it. My flatmates and I ate most of it with salt and butter and oil and jam and Marmite. I saved a few slices to turn into pork sandwiches.

  • Pig—let me speak his praise—is no less provocative of the appetite, than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of the censorious palate. The strong man may batten on him, and the weakling refuseth not his mild juices. A Dissertation upon Roast Pig by Charles Lamb. Recently, I’ve been reading more essays on food than on art. This classic one by Charles Lamb describes the Chinese origin story of cooking, which begins with roast pork. The humble origins, in a peasant’s burning house, creates the food enjoyed most by all.
  • Have you ever eaten butter by the spoon? Butter without toast to prop it up or eggs to fry in it — butter for its own tangy, full-flavored, exquisite sake? Our messed-up relationship with food has a long history. It started with butter on The Washington Post. Without wanting to sound like Ted Cruz, I love butter. I’ve always over buttered my toast, and I’ve recently begun basting eggs in melted butter with tarragon and parsley.
  • I soon realized that almost everyone who gave food any thought—professional chefs, restaurant junkies, people who keep a water-stained spiral notebook of a great-aunt’s favorite recipes—knew about Maldon. The History of Maldon Salt on Bon Appetit. Nick Paumgarten is right, it’s more the tactility of Maldon that sets it apart. When you take a pinch between your fingers you can feel the recipe tasting better. I only ever use it for texture & presentation—I keep a box next to the kilo sack of regular salt.
  • In 1999, I put this dish on my opening menu at Prune, and we have been serving it every day of every week of every month for the past 17 years. The Wonder of Three Ingredients in the New York Times Magazine. Radishes, unsalted butter, flaked salt. I make an entire trip to the shops specifically to make this snack.
  • Good though this is when the rhubarb is served warm, I like the contrast with the hot, crisp marmalade toasts when the fruit is served chilled. Either way, the simplicity of the whole thing is thoroughly refreshing. Nigel Slater’s recipes using bread on The Guardian. Rhubarb, blood oranges, marmalade, sugar, bread. As Ruby Tandoh tweeted recently, Nigel Slater should be prescribed on the NHS.
  • So you get the lower, stronger two-thirds of a leek and slice it up, not too thinly, into sort of squat little cylinders that will slowly telescope out of themselves as things unfold. It helps if you’re a bit hungover, less than you deserve, it’s Sunday, and it’s sunny out but you are not quite ready for the world yet. By Timothy Thornton. I think this poem of hungover cooking and improvisation speaks to many.
  • I think it’s important for you to know that Lucky Peach loves you and REALLY values the time you’ve spent together. Once it gets over its own internal grieving process, maybe it’ll even be able to manage an adult press release. We need to talk on Lucky Peach. Some sadness as the print issue of Lucky Peach folds. I’ve been following the website since the beginning, but before this I never actually got round to buying an issue. It’s now taken pride of place on my desk, the first thing I’ve turned to over the past week when I want to take a break.