Heston's Great British Food, Channel 4 - TV review
A fish supper with a twist as Heston cooks up a classic
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 11 December 2013
After years of trial and error, of sourcing rare ingredients and studying the results at a molecular level, Heston Blumenthal has finally come up with his most perfect recipe yet – for a TV cookery show, that is. Heston's Great British Food, began its first series on Channel 4 last night and was a delightful combination of everything Blumenthal does best: culinary history, edible pranks and memorable theatrics.
This week, in pursuit of inspiration for a four-course fish supper, Heston learnt all about fish and chips. With the usual irony of patriotism, it turned out that our national dish actually owes much to the cuisine of 19th-century immigrant communities. At least the tradition of eating fish on a Friday has a long and traceable history in this country. This was excuse enough to revive some forgotten dishes, including Second World War mock fish and Tudor mock mutton.
Heston is as much conjuror as he is cook, so unlike most TV chefs, there's little expectation you'll be trying this at home: you'd need your own industrial-sized laboratory to even get started. The entertainment value lies rather in the genuine risk that what he dishes up will cause his diners to retch. Certainly no one else was as willing to court disgust. "Can I offer anyone an eyeball?" he asked after unveiling a giant stuffed cod's head (one of Queen Victoria's favourites, apparently). And you thought the chip-shop pickled egg was unappetising.
Heston's Great British Food involved even more of this sort of risk than usual, because his diners weren't the self-selecting foodies who visit the Fat Duck or the celebrity sophisticates invited to appear on Heston's Feasts. Instead, he used Willy Wonka-style golden tickets to invite fisherman, fishmongers and fish and chip shop owners aboard "HMS Chippie".
What would they make of the entirely edible rock pool, the cannons emitting a vinegar vapour and the mushy pea ice cream? They might have been tentative at first, but as always, Heston's sense of fun proved irresistible. "It doesn't matter if you're five or 50," said one happily sated diner. "Everyone's gonna love popping candy in their chips, aren't they?"
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 'Necrophilia-obsessed' girl among double murder accused in three-way sex case
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver that changes everything
Pharrell Williams says that 'Blurred Lines' criticism is 'out of context'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'