Food & Drink: Gastropod

THE Gastropod wended his merry way to Christopher's, the smart American restaurant in Covent Garden, London, for a lunch billed as 'A Salt Course', during which guests were invited to taste a series of dishes prepared with salt as per the recipe, with no salt and with 10 per cent extra salt. Despite a hopeless addiction to cigarettes that has no doubt wrought havoc with his taste buds, the 'pod concluded that he really doesn't like salt at all, not even Reichenhaller Alpine Salt extracted from sea salt trapped beneath the Bavarian Alps 60 million years ago. Apparently popular in Bavaria since the salt mines opened in 1517, it has only recently made it to the shelves of Waitrose.

Over lunch, the challenge of arranging three samples of cold cucumber soup, followed by fish cakes with tomato sauce, green beans and new potatoes, proved too much; samples became mixed up, and the assembled food writers were forced to rely on their stressed-out taste buds to tell the subtly seasoned from the totally bland.

By this point, the Gastropod had become far more intrigued by the goings-on at an adjacent table: Neil Kinnock was being entertained by Rosie Boycott, the editor of Esquire magazine, which features a restaurant column written by Ken Livingstone called 'Eating for Socialism'. Perhaps the former leader of the Labour Party was being persuaded to write a column called 'Drinking in Moderation', or, judging from the number of Silk Cut the pair consumed over their coffee, 'Liberal Smoking'.

THE punningest press release the Gastropod has seen for some time announces the launch of the 1993 Fish and Chip Shop of the Year competition. 'We've coley just begun,' it says, 'just for the halibut,' to find the 'first plaice'. In coming weeks, customers at chippies the length and breadth of the land will have the chance to nominate their local for the prize, and seven lucky people will win free fish and chips for a year.

The fish and chip shop of the year before last, Chez Fred in Bournemouth, has just opened a branch in Golders Green, north London, where the frying is done in vegetable oil rather than beef dripping, and fish can be rolled in matzo meal or dipped in batter and washed down with Krug instead of Tizer. Fred aims to revive the splendour of Edwardian fish and chip parlours, which is more than can be said for Skamps on Blackpool's South Shore, where the speciality is 'elephant's footprints': slices of spam deep fried in batter. Good Cod]

FURTHER to this column's campaign to promote coypu meat as a delicacy, the Gastropod is grateful to Griselda Barton, who has been trawling through the published correspondence of the visionary painter Samuel Palmer and came across the following anecdote in a letter to his elderly, eccentric friend Mrs George, dated October 1870:

'I knew a very poor man in Kent who had been a smuggler. Life had passed roughly, yet he had one, only one, comfort left: a rat pudding] He took no steps to catch them, but, governing his appetite by patience, calmly awaited the return of the village rat catcher. Then, having carefully cleaned, skinned and prepared his delicacies . . . at last he sat down, with a thankful heart, I believe, to the only solace left him, until the last one of the sexton and the spade.

'We are such geese of routine, such fools of fashion, that if rat pie - I beg your pardon, tart is the genteel word - if rat tart became a favourite at Balmoral, in a short time they would be seen on every dinner table in London, with tails elegantly coiled and arranged outside the crust, like claws on a pigeon pie - there I go again, pigeon tart, I mean. What a thing it is to be naturally vulgar]'

THERE was little vulgarity and no rat pie on the menu at Whites, the gentlemen's club, when it celebrated its 300th anniversary with a series of banquets featuring stuffed artichoke, turbot, lamb, goat's cheese salad and summer pudding. For the occasion, it threw open its doors to women for only the second time in its history (the first being a party to mark the engagement of the Prince of Wales), and among the 944 guests was Baroness Thatcher.

The current Prime Minister, being more a man of the people, prefers a good curry to such high-falutin stuff. Apparently Mr Major's favourite curry is a lamb dish, Dumwalla Gosht, which he sampled at the Taj Hotel in Bombay during his visit to India earlier this year. It was re-created for him, his wife and 125 of his fellow MPs by a team of chefs flown in to the St James Court Hotel in London: lunch was served at 1pm and completed by 2.15pm, allowing Mr Major, with fire in his belly, to race back to the House of Commons for Question Time.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin