Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Diana Kennedy … the “Mexican culinary anthropologist” …

 

Back in the 1950s people didn’t appreciate other country’s foods … as they do now … but it’d take the likes of pioneer cookery writers to set the standards … Julia Childs, Elizabeth David, and of course Diana Kennedy – who has put Mexican cuisine on the map …

 

Diana Kennedy in 2016

 We were due to see this film last year … but in the circumstances had to wait … that did not deter … I was so interested I bought her book – updated in 2016 from the 1984 earlier version: ‘Nothing Fancy: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food’.  What an excellent read.

 

 

This no-nonsense English lady, born in 1923 – yes she is 98 - learnt to cook from her grandmother and mother … then went to work in Wales during the War as a timber girl – here she appreciated the availability of fresh food off the land …

 




Her book: Nothing Fancy
… it was after the War that her gastronomic adventures started … at home, around Europe, before moving to Canada in 1953 taking various positions, then on a whim visited Haiti in 1957.  There she met her future husband Paul P Kennedy (1905 – 1967), a correspondent for The New York Times in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean …

 

 

Book of the Month -
subscription service

(founded 1926)
Later … Diana with her friends and editors, particularly Fran McCullough, set out to promote authentic Mexican recipes – cooking for the Book of the Month Club – no doubt helped by her husband’s contacts in the journalistic world exposed her ideas to a large audience.

 




Things advanced rather rapidly … Diana’s knowledge of Mexican recipes, how they were cooked, then served in authentic cazuelas (earthen ware) … was immediately accepted. 



 

Cazuelas
Her energy is boundless – now aged 98 … we see her exercising, walking around, tending the garden, driving (fast!) to collect items for the house …

 

 

Frances McCullough in her foreword to the book ‘Nothing Fancy’ states that Diana Kennedy has documented and saved many of the dishes of the authentic regional cuisines of Mexico with the eyes of a botanist and an anthropologist as well as those of a fine cook.


Benito Juarez Market
Oaxaca
The first chapter – “Introduction” – lets us know about her traditional British upbringing, then expanding out into recipes and ideas found during her gastronomic adventures …

 

 

Her husband was very supportive – I guess eating fascinating interesting food when he was home – encouraged him to bring back recipes for her …


 

In the hills above
Zitacuaro
After her husband died she decided to build an ecological adobe house in Zitacuaro, Michoacan – about 3 hours SE of Mexico city, but she moved into the incomplete shell in 1980 … over time – we see the result in the film: “Quinta Diana” – as it became known – The Diana Kennedy Centre – where her organic, ecological, true to Mexico teachings continue.

 

 

The chapters in the book make for a fascinating insight into how she thinks … and thus what she considers a necessity for our future world in the culinary sense … the chapters I set out:

 

 

Freshly churned English butter
The Making of a Palate’ … she describes one of our early grocer’s (Sainsbury’s) layout, with its foods on offer … it takes me back to my youth – though 20 years later … then goes on to explain how her palate came about … she was always learning and experimenting as her gastronomic adventures expanded.

 

Water Droplet

My Betes Noires” … where she excoriates various items including cassia (the cinnamon imposter) … and water is liquid gold – do not ever waste a drop …

 


 

Escamoles: 
Ant-egg caviar
“Addictions” … she says her mother lived to 92, so I suppose it’s no surprise she is still going strong at 98, happily surviving on lots of starches, delicious fats … actually that was acceptable in the 1920s to ‘our time’!  She includes Escamoles – Mexican “caviar” … ant-egg caviar; and Seville orange marmalade, Le croissant …

 

“Equipment I Simply Cannot Do Without” … a Cuisinart machine; coffee/spice grinders; lots of cazuelas … a large selection of wooden spoons and stirrers, white rubber spatulas – no coloured ones! 



The Mexican national dish -
Mole Sauce


The “Ingredients” and “Cookbookese” … chapters include acerbic comments.

 



“My Bêtes Noires Vertes” … first she says she’ll look in your garbage can/rubbish bin …this should be sustainably kept – and she goes on to particularly white chef items … the bleach to obtain these whites – kills the water … which is liquid gold…

 

 

Buttery Crumpets
Then we’re onto recipes … Roast Pork with Sage and Onion Stuffing, Crumpets, English Clotted Cream … but lots of traditional ones that I happily remember being made by my mother, and family friends …

 

Seville orange marmalade

 
I am totally caught up in Diana Kennedy’s vision with that over-riding nostalgia of earlier days … Christmas is coming – actually we still have a traditional family time – everything fresh and home-made … happy memories too.

 



Oh Golly Gosh … as I used to say to my Ma … so many memories of times gone by – but this was a wonderful find.


 

Close up ... with her English tea

Diana Kennedy’s British upbringing rings out through her life – I can feel and see it … via the film and the book … encouraging us to think ahead … do not waste … enjoy foods from the land. 

 

 

While during her time in Mexico she has embraced authentic Mexican cooking and all that entails … disseminating Mexican culture through its foods and ensuring that native ingredients and traditional recipes found in villages are not lost.

 

Scottish (of course) shortbread -
often the tea-time fare of 
the English!


Diana Kennedy is recognised as the “grand dame of Mexican cuisine” – a true title if ever there was one.

 



I hope you can get to see the film … it is on YouTube … and perhaps read the book – which personally I think is more interesting … perhaps it’s the nostalgia of my mother’s and my life through Diana’s years …

Diana Kennedy ... 

The Diana Kennedy Center - more details about her life and work ... 

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy - trailer ... I couldn't easily find which film would be best for each of your country's ... but from the trailer in YouTube I hope you can find it ... 


PS - I know and I knew I'd be castigated for calling shortbread English ... I know it's Scottish ... but we're talking an English lady ... so my wrist is slapped!


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

Friday, 24 September 2021

We are the World Blogfest #53 Being able to Stem Bleeding from Stab Wound …

 

This UK entry is in the international James Dyson Award category … the shortlist will be announced in October … regardless, I think that this invention will be taken up by the medical world, particularly first responders.

 

Rapid Emergency Actuating Tamponade

The React (Rapid Emergency Actuating Tamponade) device is undergoing medical testing and could so easily save hundreds of lives a year – in so many parts of the world – once it is approved.

 

 

Joseph Bentley from the University of Loughborough is the young inventor … and leads the continued development of this product …

 

Wound management is notoriously difficult, while the patient needs urgent help - the normal process is slow, and worse for the patient very painful.  The React has been proved to stop the bleeding from knife wounds quickly … while it is also suitable for wounds in cavities like the abdomen.

 

There’s a simple application procedure, whereby the device is automated inflated … the Tamponade can be in place and stop haemorrhage in under a minute – a life saver.

 

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

 

Here's the link – with full details, a video and some images … please take a look.



Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Sunday, 19 September 2021

Small Forgotten Moments …

 

A wonderful book by Annalisa Crawford … bringing to life those tiny fragments, that rattle around in our minds …



 

… in the book there’s a ghostly undertone to these thoughts that constantly reappear … what do they mean and why, and where are they coming from...

 

 


Annalisa sets Jo, her artist character, working and living in London … before the wheels come off and Jo realises she needs to go back to her beloved Seaton Beach in Cornwall to work at and sort her life out – so much seems to be missing.

 

 

Seaton Beach, Cornwall 
Annalisa lives in Cornwall, where she admits her very active imagination, dances around down at the local beach, devising novels, and in this case deconstructing art works … wondering what the life of the person portrayed would be like …

 

 

Our character Jo, an artist, infiltrates the story … moving us around between reality or a confusion …

 

… black and white portrait sketches appear, then bright colours fill in parts of the draft as Jo draws … each haunting memory comes into being via these art works …

  

… the palette becomes less strident … as each realises pieces of the dream, drawing those snippets of memory to the fore …

 

Saltash Bookstore - The Bookshelf
Her book is a great read and one I recommend.  She gave a wonderful interview to Radio Cornwall about the book … it was a delight to listen to … then there was the recent book signing event at her local Saltash bookshop – the BookShelf …

 

 

Annalisa receiving her prize
I don’t know whether you remember Annalisa came 3rd in the 2015 Costa Books Short Story Awards … so you can see she has writing pedigree.

 

 

Kernow chocolate - I was sent
the 'Cream Tea' bar ... 


I entered a draw for a copy of her book, and some Cornish chocolate … my dream was realised!  Thank you and congratulations to Annalisa …


 

Costa Book Awards

Annalisa’s blog post … she is very self-effacing!

 A Chance to Win ... offered by Annalisa Crawford


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Amuse-Bouche …

 

This phrase does not amuse me!  It immediately draws to mind something I’d rather forget … about how poor we Brits are when speaking other languages … in this instance: French … I have to admit I wish it had an English equivalent … but it doesn’t …


Smoked salmon on
Cucumber in a
Gazpacho sauce


 This was meant to be an interim post about mouthfuls of delicious tasty food … but then curiosity kicked in about the name, and the why, and the when …

 

 

Apparently it appeared about the time of a 20th century reinvention 'Nouvelle Cuisine' – 1970s – 1980s – which characterised a lighter, delicate emphasis on the food presented … but there’s no definitive answer …


 

 

Parmesan Pannacotta
 After my taste buds got a-wondering … I decided I was not going into the grammar of ‘the phrase’ - way too difficult for me.

 

 



Hallucinogenic
Mushrooms
Yet now having investigated and found the episode ‘Amuse-Bouche (Hannibal)’ … I’ve rather gone off food too … also … as is the interesting reference to a blogger, who influences the episode – another something to ponder, or probably not, as the case may be …

 

 


The amuse-bouche I’ve seen on tv have always been (in my opinion) over-done creations and way too large – they preferably should be a tasty morsel … not a few full-bite appetisers … nor tummy filler!  Nor (again!) continually spoken about with appalling gaucheness … but then I’m a …



Breughel the Elder's 1618 -
Senses of Hearing, Touch and Taste

They’re also meant to be whatever you have to hand … by creating a tiny morsel of ‘delectitude’ … to tempt the waters of the mouth … before serving the actual dinner …

 


 

… not appetisers/pre-dinner nibbles … but just a tiny bite of flavour – whatever the restaurant feels like tempting you with – no menu, no choice …

 


Nordic delicacies of Amuse-Bouche

Instead of Amuse-Bouche – “mouth amuser” … you could use Amuse-Gueule … gueule being a snout … rather like a snout in a trough … all manner of images now appear …



Having sauntered into a pot-au-feu of anything a kitchen has available … I think I’ll saunter out to grass with a glass for a while! 

 

1742 cover page
for Menon's treatise on
'the new cuisine'



So Amuse-Bouche yourselves tonight before supper/dinner is served … while trying not to think of the Amuse-Bouche episode in the psychological thriller-horror series Hannibal.  All kinds of new stories could be written … 

 

 



These tasty morsels  à la ‘Amuse-Bouche’ have now bored me … as I’ve dragged this post out – but it needs to see the light of a hot day in the UK … surprisingly there will be some sunburnt bods around … for us ‘tis warm!


A Jacques Lameloise
Nouvelle Cuisine presentation

Enjoy the coming of Autumn or the fulfilling of Spring … take care …

 


Amuse-Bouche ... 


Amuse-Bouche (Hannibal) - detailing the 2nd episode of the first season of the tv thriller


Nouvelle Cuisine ... 


I do have two more food oriented posts to follow at some stage - a film I'm seeing next week ... and another I picked up about helping ourselves eat to suit our world ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 28 August 2021

We are the World Blogfest # 52 Washing Machines for Refugee Camps …

 

The salad spinner that inspired an engineer to design a hand-cranked washing machine for refugee camps – where there’s no running water, or electricity …



Navjot Sawhney - the entrepreneur designer
Navjot Sawhney, an engineer who had worked with a number of blue chip companies learning his ‘trade’ and expertise … before quitting to work as a volunteer in India as a member of Engineers without Borders UK.



'Divya' washing machines

 

While in India a neighbour was struggling with her daily washing needs … doing everything by hand … Navjot promised her a machine …

 


Matthew Mews of Huxlo
Along the way – offers of help came from a Bristol design and fabrication firm, Huxlo … Matthew Mews said the company wanted to help make life easier for those living in poverty.

 


Owen Rutter from the University of Bath
The University of Bath, where Mr Sawhney studied, also helped turn the designs into reality … university technician, Owen Rutter, was able to check various details and suggest minor adjustments …

 


The charity for Engineers Without
Borders working to ease others' lives
The first machines will be distributed early in September to a refugee camp in northern Iraq … and no doubt many others will find their way into other places in the world.


 

Salad Spinner 

The thought of having to wash by hand would appal me … so this “robust, simple to use and easily repairable machine” will be a real blessing …




Mr Sawney named the machine “Divya” after his neighbour in India … who caused the idea to spark in this engineer’s design brain.  The machines have been tried and tested in various locations around the world ... so I'm sure by now Divya has her "Divya"! 

 

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, be Light

 

Article on Mr Navjot Sawhney c/o BBC - Hand-Cranked Washing Machines

Huxlo Company - an innovative furniture manufacturer with a vision to provide the tools for a better build 

University of Bath - studying at Bath means joining the multicultural community on a vibrant, friendly campus in a historic city.

Engineers without Borders UK


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Write … Edit … Publish … Bloghop / ISWG hop: Freedom of Speech …

 

My mind has been wandering along about this prompt – and I’ve been wondering how we got to speak …


We have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one very clever brain which ensures an action … there’s also only one mouth – which we use over enthusiastically at times …

 


It is thought that speech evolved differently from other primates – we use our tongue for producing sound, together with lips and other moveable parts within the head.

 

Sorry it's black - I know there's a way to change
the background to white ... 

The sun rays are processed by the eyes, signalled to
be transduced, then to be processed by the brain - 
which would then allow actions ... 



Platter of sea-foods
It also appears that human speech might have evolved from our waterside past, being able to obtain brain-specific nutrients in sea-foods, voluntary breathing as we searched for shellfish to eat, and suction feeding of soft-slippery sea-foods … yummy oysters!  As we evolved … our oral apparatus adapted …

 


Freedom of Speech – now do we use that Freedom too much in our shouting matches … and in the open mouth ‘shouts’  - seeing people’s tonsils is too much!


A new reptile found in Australia - it has a large
mouth and I couldn't resist using the depiction -
a wide, cruel mouth ... 
Australian Pterosaur
 

Where does Freedom come from – our power source: the brain … we’ve learnt so much over thousands of millennia … yet it seems the ancient Athenian democratic principle of free speech may have emerged in the late 6th or early 5th century BC – the values of the Roman Republic included freedom of speech …  

 

Did you know there’s a Free Speech Flag … more details here at the link ...    

 

Free Speech Flag


I'm not sure where this post came from ... but that's me! and I'm not an academic ... but a blogger with a curious, eclectic mind ... who decided to go into how we were able to speak ... so I looked and used my common sense, if you consider I have any!, to write this odd post and here are the links I looked at ...


New Scientist - Time Line: Human Evolution 

Origin of Speech - see 'Background' section 

A Sense - the biological system used by an organism for sensation 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Bran Tub # 19: Who debugs here?

 

I wandered into town yesterday – and always pass this school, Eastbourne College … with its cricket pitch, or rugby field impeccably maintained …


 

Eastbourne College with its influx of
Herring Gulls and 'pups' ....

… ‘cept it was covered with masses of hungry souls … I could only ponder if the school was debugging itself before term started?!

 

 

Herring Gull composite


I don’t know whether they got bored fishing, or pestering the tourists!! … but I’ve never seen the beautiful grounds invaded in this way …

 




Some close to me - as I leant over the wall
A quick post taking me through to WEP on Wednesday and another book one over the weekend … see you in a few days – stay safe everyone …

 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories