All posts filed under: Stories From The Table

Crêpes

We used to have pancakes once a year at home, on Shrove Tuesday, when the squeezy Jif would appear at the table and my mum would stand at the stove, grumbling about what a fuss they were to cook. English pancakes were never a breakfast thing. I only remember them with the backdrop of a cold February evening, rolled up tight with lemon and sugar, a little damp, a little thick. A couple of Saturdays ago I broke tradition and cooked them for brunch. It was all because of Tiphaine really, my lovely French coworker, who gave me a hand-written recipe for crêpes – the English pancake’s superior cousin.  I’d asked her what her favourite childhood meal was, and like a good Breton she told me it was crêpes. More so now that she’s been in London for sometime, because they remind her of home and weekend breakfasts. It’s funny how moving away from a place draws us closer to the simple foods we grew up with, and more often than not, to one of our national or regional Read More

Tater ‘Ash

It’s hard to write about the meaning of a dish you’ve never grown up with. Write in any sort of meaningful way, I mean, without feeling a fraud. Especially when it’s the sort of recipe that’s so undeniably lived in – the kind that isn’t written down by its owner or even memorised, but internalised as intuitively as a child learns to walk. A dish cooked with such regularity and love that it becomes as much a part of the furniture as the kitchen table itself. So it is, with tater ‘ash. The dish, in its many guises, is one that we’ve all known in some form. After all, its elements – beef, potatoes and onions – are almost identical to countless other British stews. Yet, tater ‘ash is not scouse, nor is it lobby, and it’s definitely not casserole. To the people of Cheshire and Lancashire it is simply tater ‘ash. And nothing could be better. For my boyfriend Dom, tater ‘ash carries with it memories of childhood, and when I asked three generations of his Read More

Polenta: A History

Every cuisine is built on a staple food – a starchy backdrop to the main event. It might be potatoes, rice, bread, or, if you’re from the north of Italy, polenta. Cheap, rib-sticking, and innately comforting, it is – as tradition dictates – the perfect starchy staple. Yet, ever since Elizabeth David introduced the UK to the idea of polenta in the 1950s (described as a “finely ground Indian corn meal”), it has failed to escape the middle class cupboard; lost in the shade of pasta and pizza. Even in some corners of Italy, this cheap grain has taken on chic status. An irony considering it’s rather desperate past.  Polenta first found its way onto the Italian plate two thousand years ago. Known as polemtum, the simple millet porridge was a staple for the Roman foot soldier, who would have to pound and boil a daily ration of grain. As centuries past and empires fell, polenta remained. With the introduction of buckwheat to Italy at the end of the fifteenth century it experienced a slight facelift, Read More