Saturday 13 May 2000
The Independent's team of writers scored a double whammy at this week's hotly-contended Glenfiddich Food & Drink Awards - the most highly-prized acknowledgement of the best writing, publishing and broadcasting about food and drink. Anthony Rose won the Wine Writer prize for his articles about wine on these pages. It's the second time Anthony, who was The Independent's first wine correspondent when he joined the paper in 1986, has won the award. Simon Hopkinson was named Newspaper Cookery writer for his work in The Independent Magazine. He, too, has won awards before - for his articles in 1996 and 1997 and for his cookery book Roast Chicken and Other Stories in 1995. Other awards handed out by the evening's presenter, Jancis Robinson, included the prize for Television Programme to Naked Chef Jamie Oliver, and one to Alan Davidson for his Oxford Companion to Food.
At last, my biography has been reissued, though I'm not the first species thus honoured recently. Last year Cod, The Biography caught the crest of this monoprotein publishing wave and won a Glenfiddich award for the best book about food. One of my favourite foods (once regarded fit only for pigs and peasants, it says - the cheek of it) has also earned its own memoir. The Potato just out as a Pan paperback, is subtitled "From the Andes in the 16th century to fish and chips; the story of how a vegetable changed history". As for The Pig: A British History, by Julian Wiseman (Duckworth, £12.99), it is an elegantly slender addition full of delightful pictures of the different breeds of my fellow beings. "Essentially a eulogy on the animal's contribution to our sustenance," says the author. And while it begins somewhat distressingly with "A Dissertation upon Roast Pig" by Charles Lamb, it ends, to my relief, on an upbeat note with a graph showing the increased number of wild boars between 1988 and 1998. Gripping.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, or rather a case of pearls following swine - another recent publication of specialist gastronomic interest is Buon Appetito, Your Holiness (Macmillan, £12.99). This delightful curio by two Italian social historians follows the history of the papal table through the 26 popes, with appropriate recipes for each. As the gluttonous Martin IV and Pauls II and III all died of indigestion, this is clearly a subject rich with potential. Martin's body was washed in warm vernaccia, the same wine in which he particularly enjoyed his eels cooked. Paul II's entry is accompanied by a 15th-century recipe for baked larks, and to Paul III is dedicated a recipe for tortellini filled with mushrooms, chicken livers and chicken. A whole new definition of soul food.
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