29 NOVEMBER 1963, Page 16

Green Bacon


PEOPLE/ who write about books, , films or plays are prone to receive only limited abuse from a disgruntled pub- lic; readers identify themselves with a critic who is of,

and to, their taste —and deviation

from his considered praise or condemnation is slight, and on a high, intellectual plane.

Writers on the culinary arts encounter no such consideration; our mail is heavy, consisting at best of letters from readers who have found half-torn articles in old magazines and are too mean to send for back numbers; more usually from those who have attempted the recipe in question, and failed disastrously. I recently received an under- stamped parcel containing a charred wing of grouse wrapped in a message which was, to put it mildly, very far from couth. My instructions to cook the bird at 475 degrees for twenty-five minutes appeared to have been interpreted at Reaumur instead of centigrade, on the night the clocks went back an hour.

To please, at one and the same time, both your editor and your reader is no easy matter: 'Let's have some more exciting, mouth-watering recipes,' urges the bespectacled man who initials your monthly claim loosely headed 'reimburse- ment of expenses.'

'Sack him,' growl the readers who don't know the difference between sweating and blanching but complain of your incompetence, regardless of their ignorance.

Now to resign from the thin ranks of gastro- nomic journalists is altogether too simple a solution and after some considerable thought on the matter I have decided that ideally recipes should be irresistible on the printed page, while they deter the reader from actual physical execu- tion. Something like Mr. Syllabub's pâté (page 188, Syllabub in the Kitchen, Methuen), which contains chopped kipper fillets, garlic, moist bread and double-minced walnuts.

Yet there are dangers even in this type of recipe, for all Mr. Philip's ingredients, however unlikely it may be to find them together in one confection, are readily available in shops and behave predictably in the saucepan.

With due regard to silencing the enemy (and a natural desire to continue to write upon the one subject about which I know something) I have devised a list of ingredients, the inclusion of any one of which puts people off attempting an entire recipe.

In alphabetical order, they are: fennel, green bacon, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucking pig, yeast, and I can honestly state that since my recent adoption of this plan there has been nothing but praise for my work. But alas, even here there is a danger.

The constant repetition in print of unobtain- able, undesirable ingredients, will eventually prompt some wretched grocer to stock some or all of the . listed items and offer double-value savings stamps to promote their sale. If, in the Years to come, you should happen upon a recipe for sucking pig, stuffed with fennel and molasses, barded with strips of green bacon, brushed with monosodium glutamate and baked in a simple bread dough, that will be that.

Thereafter I shall concentrate on writing about Association Football, taking with me a hipflask of mulled claret which I ask the buffet manageress to suspend in the tea-urn until half- time. This produces the item which later appears as : 'to Christmas entertaining . . . 9s. 6d.'

It's the word 'Christmas' that stops the editor from asking for further and better particulars.