Delia, love, what are you doing?

February 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm 1 comment

Oh, Delia, you silly woman!

I admit, I have never found you particularly inspiring, but I have at least always respected in you what seemed like a very sound attitude to food and diet*, and been grateful for the ‘How to Cook’ books, in which you explain for the novice how such things as caramelising sugar work, where other recipe books leave you foundering in a hot, toffeeish mess.

If I could be bothered, I’d go and get the aforementioned egg-boiling-for-beginners books and quote them, but life is too short (I have some potatoes to peel) so you’ll just have to trust me that they say things like, ‘Don’t eat strawberries out of season – they’re rubbish,’ or ‘Local, seasonal vegetables are tastiest and most nutritious,’ or, ‘Making your own bread isn’t rocket science and even busy people can do it.’

And now I find out that, apparently, people who can’t afford free range chicken or organic vegetables should instead buy things like instant mashed potato and Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings, even though if you bought potatoes, flour, milk and eggs, you’d probably save enough money to buy the free range chicken.


Yes, we all have days when we have neither time nor energy to peel, boil and mash potatoes. I long for the days when I am no longer the indirect stooge of big business and can spend 40 hours a week in the kitchen instead of at a computer, but until then, there are going to be nights when I am too tired, cranky and, quite frankly, lazy to cook anything remotely fancy. On these nights, I do not reach for sauces in jars or pre-prepared ingredients. We are not such snobs that we do not keep these things in our house** (we don’t make our own pesto or mayonnaise, for example, or yoghurt, because I’m a cretin), and we have the odd take-out and the odd pizza from Waitrose, but, honestly, just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you have to eat processed crap. What’s wrong with a poached egg on toast? A salad with oil and vinegar? Some pasta with olive oil, garlic and chilli, followed by some fruit? Even a marmite sandwich?***

It certainly is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card for compromising on the quality or ethical provenance of ingredients.

Or are we as a nation so hopelessly incompetent that even boiling an egg is beyond us now?

* The ‘Dieters, please stop berating me, I’m not saying you should eat puddings with double cream after every meal, but when you want to treat yourself occasionally, and there’s nothing wrong with that, here is a recipe’ was, I felt, particularly inspired.
** Though we don’t have tea bags or instant coffee.
*** I fully accept there are other sorts of sandwiches which are also nutritious and simple, but Marmite is the absolute laziest I can think of, as spreading is easier than cutting cheese or ham, for example.


Entry filed under: cookery, food, junk food.

Seeds of hope One more quick rant…..

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sandy V  |  February 25, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Good post – I share your exasperation with St Delia. I’m at a loss to know what she’s up to. Unless she thinks there’s some kind of bridge to be built between convenience and ‘real’ cooking, it’s a bit like giving up on people’s capacity. Lynn Barber interviewed her for The Observer this weekend and didn’t really get to the bottom of why she was recommending instant mash and yorkshire pudding mix. Here’s the link if you didn’t see it:,,2258225,00.html


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The Heritage Crafts Network

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“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

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Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

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Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."

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