Got a recipe to use up furry blue bread, Jamie?


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The Independent Online

Here's a surprising thing about last week's Jamie Oliver fiasco: poor Jamie was in the stocks all week and yet there's one very obvious thing that he still hasn't been slagged off for. When Jamie despaired of the nation's poor and gave his Marie Antoinette-ish "let them eat stale bread" speech, people immediately pointed out that he has no idea what it's like to be poor. They failed to spot that he clearly doesn't understand bread, either. Modern bread, bought in supermarkets, does not go stale. It goes blue and furry and is no good at all for the "beautiful rustic croutons" in his new book, Save With Jamie.

To be fair, the recipes in the book made me drool and it's very helpful on cheap cuts of meat, but like every other television chef, Jamie displays a lack of understanding about how people really cook and live. About that cheap meat: you've got to get to know your local butcher and fishmonger "on first name terms", he says, and "build up a good relationship with your greengrocer". Now, I live in a rare part of London that still exists in the 1950s and I do have a butcher and a greengrocer nearby. But they both close before I get home from work and don't open on Sundays, so I mostly shop at supermarkets, like almost everyone else.

Jamie's book begins with a chapter that can be summarised as "first, stock your pantry". He recommends buying in bulk – including four types of pasta and an equivalent volume of rice – and we've also seen him on the telly keeping spices by the kilo in attractive Kilner jars and cute vintage porcelain.

Of course, food doesn't keep well that way, even if you do have a kitchen the size of a TV studio. And you'd need one for the 46 pieces of equipment that Jamie says you need, including a food processor, a blender and a stick blender, three frying pans, wooden and plastic chopping boards, two graters and a pastry brush.

Jamie also complains about the quantity of food thrown away in Britain. And yet, like most TV chefs, his recipes demand such ingredients as "six slices of ciabatta", "half a bunch of fresh dill" and "quarter of a cucumber". And what happens to the rest? Let them drink Pimm's!

It also asks, "Have you ever opened a bottle of wine and not quite finished it?" Err, well, how shall we put this, Jamie? No. And if we did, we'd probably be more likely to drink it later than start up our own vinegar culture in some unused corner of our enormous kitchen.

Other things that TV chefs don't understand about real cooking include: using metal utensils in non-stick pans will RUIN them; using a blender instead of chopping by hand is only quicker if you don't do your own washing up; hungover people do not wake up and make a dish using 12 ingredients, a peeler, grater, two pans and some drizzling. Nor do we cook a chilli for five hours. (We could do eight, or two, but not five.) Not even when we're waiting for our bread to go stale.