Calling bullshit on the cult of the Great British Bake Off

Programme Name: Great British Bake Off - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: 13/08/2013 - Picture Shows: Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Des Willie

There is an innate rebellion in me that feels the need to eschew all things that were once reserved for the independent thinker and have become a mainstream capitalist commodity: 1950s circle skirts, Amy Winehouse, Lena Dunham, oversized glasses, kale, This American Life and most ubiquitous of them all: cupcakes.

If there’s an hour of television to embody everything I hate about cupcakes, it’s the Great British Bake Off. It’s style over substance, sickly sweet yet simultaneously bland, non-ironically reactionary, and reproduced over and over again, to ever-lower standards. (more…)

Why I won’t back Jamie Oliver’s sugary drinks tax

Jamie_Oliver_cooking (1)Jamie Oliver’s got a new cause – and about time too. It’s been ten years since his revolutionary movement to improve school meals, and since then we’ve seen Gordon Ramsay do something similar in prisons, James Martin going into hospitals and more recently the likes of Deliciously Ella and Hemsley + Hemsley flying the flag for “clean eating” and convincing us that ditching carbs in favour of spiralisers will save our bodies and souls.

Not to be out-done, everyone’s favourite naked chef recently released Everyday Super Food, yet another beautifully photograhed cookery book that kind of fails to deliver on its premise and requires a ridiculous number of obscure ingredients and expensive, bulky appliances. And he’s got a new nemesis: sugar. (more…)

My admiration for Nigella Lawson, why you should buy her new book, and what I’d ask her at my dream dinner party 2015-07-20 19-32-08

I adore food in all its forms. I spend hours reading about it – from obscure recipes and historical cuisines to analyses of trends within the industry and personal essays about the pleasures of cooking and eating. There is nothing that fills me with a greater sense of calm purpose combined with a giddy thrill than preparing a new dish for the first time, and bar a byline in The New Yorker, I can think of few things that would give me more pride than serving a dish of sensory ecstasy to my guests.

When the latest cover of Nigella Lawson’s upcoming cookery book was unveiled last week, I was ready to be excited, yet conversely found myself disappointed by its simplicity. I felt that the restrained yet decadent, bright and subtly nuanced aspects of the author’s food (and, I suspect, her personality) were ill-reflected in the book that I was already looking forward to reading. (more…)