Saturday, 5 June 2010

Crackle-Scrape-Boink: Sound Recipes

Food writing is the new novelising: everyone thinks they've got a food book/blog inside them (oops... um, moving on swiftly...). You really cannot swing a dead pan without hitting the umpteenth variation of spaghetti carbonara in a glossy yet uninspired foody publication. No wonder Oxfam bookshops are awash with tepid foodery. But every once in a while there is a book which is enjoyable for its knowledge about food, its creativity with ingredients and its way with words. Among them is Jeremy Round's The Independent Cook, which inspired today's blog post.
In his seasonal recipes for May, Round finishes off his 'Spinach with Eggs' (perhaps best described as an English take on huevos rancheros) with the instruction:
To serve, hot or warm, scrape up each egg with its spinach base to plonk on the plates in a single wodge.
Apart from inducing a smile (sans spinach teeth), this sentence makes me want to pick up my favourite spatula and make the dish, just to hear onomatopoeia and food noises join forces in the kitchen. Scrape! Plonk! Wodge! Kapow!

(From Robert Sabuda's America the Beautiful)

On a recent trip to the USA I could not help but muse about the distinct soundscapes of different national cuisines. There is the crisp crunch of a proper French baguette; the satisfying slow globbing of Italian pasta sauce; the sizzle of American Barbeque; the dry squish of a German dumpling; and I could go on! But have you ever noticed that the same dishes, when wonkily prepared, not only dissatisfy because they taste funny, but also because they do not sound the same? And even if Heston Blumenthal's sound experiments (cue microphone near mouth that turns a crunchy carrot into an earsplitting snack) seem a bit over-the-top to many of us, can you deny that your mouth starts watering when you think of the delicious snap of a newly opened chocolate bar?

I was going to write more, about the sounds of alchemical laboratories. But I get distracted by my slurping, smacking lips and 'aaaaaaah!' sigh that accompany the consumption of an iced coffee. I wonder if I could rustle up some chewy-yet-crispy biscuit to go with it...

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