Wednesday, 1 August 2007

If you can't carve it, it's not Sunday dinner. I say
this with all the gloomy force of a man who last week
sat down to a Sunday dinner of Shepherd's Pie.

Chief among the pleasures modest affluence brings is Sunday dinner,
in which the starring role is taken by a comestible which is
at ease in the presence of Yorkshire pudding, onion - or apple - sauce.
Nothing that can't be carved is at ease in that company.
Needn't be grand, mark you. Shoulder of lamb, nice
piece of belly pork, poultry or brisket. I ask no more of
life. And Sunday dinner, whenever you eat it. Sunday lunch
was always cold in gentleman's houses so that the servants
could go to church. We have it in the evening and call it
supper. A consequence of marrying above myself.
To a lady whose devotion to Shepherd's Pie is a sign of that deprived background common
to the upper middle classes.
Also bread-and-butter pudding. Of which I prefer not to think. I'm convinced that it was
the enervating effect on the ruling classes of generations of bread-and-butter pudding consumption which led us into the grave error of giving up the Empire.

I'm not by any means an insular eater, you understand.
I can eat Coq au Vin till it's Coq au Vanquished. And I
wish I had a pfennig for every apfel I have struddelled.
My teeth have travelled the world. But never on
Sundays. Sunday is silent and shady. Made for snoozing and long
safaris through the Sunday papers. For martyred dog walking
and home in time to lead the singing in Hymns of Praise on the tele.
It is not the time for Shepherd's Pie.

Tuesday is irrevocably linked to Sunday. In well regulated
working class homes it was always rissoles on Tuesday, made
from the left overs of the joint, memorable chiefly as the
consort of the mushy pea. What Romeo was to Juliet, Eloise to
Abelard, port to stilton, egg to bacon the rissole is to the
mushy pea.
A culinary consort.
In fairness nothing exceeds the mushy pea in affability. A deux or in a menage a trois with fish and chips it is the ultimate gastronomic gladhander.A Tuesday
treat even on days when the joint had all been eaten by
visiting uncles.
How wise are the Maoris who say " Eat Up Guests May Arrive."
On such Tuesdays we had a sheet of bacon ribs, sinews stiffened by mushy peas and just a hint of brussel sprout.
Apart from champagne and brown bread,only the mushy pea was
completely at home with the kipper., another Tuesday favourite.

I am never entirely sure why Wednesday should be the best
day for eating Chinese food.
But it is.
I suspect, because there is nothing quite so celebratory as Chinese
food. It is the only cuisine at which wine is not missed and thus a consolation to teetotallers. To those unhappy few, it is not the wine cup that cheers, but the chopstick.
Only the chip butty shares Chinese gastronomic principles.
Soft bread,cold butter,crisp chip batter and the melting
inner heat of the potato, chime precisely with the principles
of hot and cold, hard and soft at which the classic Chinese
chefs aimed.

It may be all in a name,of course.
Bubble and Squeak and Toad in the Hole may be delicious;
but they lose something in the telling against
Lucky Smiling Ball,batter baked to produce a wide smile
and Autumn Mooncake, which is an oriental Scotch egg