Sunday, February 3, 2008

Franzy's Law #3

If your cookbooks don't have food stains in them, then you probably aren't doing it right.


I was in a book shop yesterday and saw Maggie Beer's foray into the cooking bible market Maggie's Food. It looks delightful and has an embroided cover and the recipes are divided into the seasons and there are whole sections on loquats and rabbit. It costs $125 and is around three inches thick. It looks as though it would be more at home on a lectern than bench top. Heck, it is a bench top. Only you wouldn't cook on a padded, porous bench top because it would soak up whatever you spilled into it. Same with Maggie's Food. It is such a beautiful object that you would hesitate before getting anywhere near anything sticky or decomposable. It is truly a tome to be treasured ... but not cooked with. If you were cooking your artichokes with waxy potatoes from the thing it would be a true pain in the arse to keep running out to the seminary to check how much verjuice to use.

So, get your cookbooks dirty, I say! Stand them up with the cutting board and let the sweet stains of chopped herbs and fragrant fresh blood splash the pages! Make the food your bookmarks! 'Have I cooked this before? Aha! The transparency of peanut oil! I remember now! It was delicious!'
And so forth.

Cookbooks should be designed like bathtime books, made of bendable durable plastic. But then they'd be too easy to wipe clean again ... hmm ...


  1. Noted, printed and will be passed onto Maggie next time I'm on set...

    GTH: Girl feeds hog with a strawberry truffle cake coated in verjuice on a bed of pork crackling... mmmmm....

  2. AGREE completely. Mine have comments and ticks all over the recipes I've liked or amended and generally a few spots of unidentified oil, crumbs and once even some blood (damn those Wiltshire stay-sharp knives!)

  3. A good cookbook should itself be edible after a couple of years use...

    ...I'm currently waiting for my copy of Nigella Express to ripen, and I'm hoping to follow it with a savory Delia course.

  4. ...technically a Nigella book is porn, not a cook book.

    Sure it is high class porn, but still...

  5. I have quite a few cookbooks, most of which are in near new condition. I tend to scribble out a recipe I want to try on a scrap of old paper, if the recipe works I copy it into a recipe file in a two ring binder. The recipe part of each page is covered in clear contact so that spills can be wiped off, with uncovered margins around the edges for notes such as, this is too sweet, use less sugar, or maybe, T & J do not like this. Those parts are covered in odd stains, but the recipes are easy to read. Meanwhile the original books are able to be lent to anyone who asks without me getting phone calls at odd moments asking what is this word under the oil stain on page 67?

  6. GTH: Truffle fed piggy being lured to spit roasting pit.

  7. Murphmeister - Good to see back on the pages of glory...

    Milly Moo - Never curse your sharp knives! Imagine if they were blunt!

    Adam - An insanely complex artwork springs to mind: a cookbook made completely out of the recipes printed on its pages ... either delightful or disgusting, depending on when you bought it.

    T.o.o.S - It is porn ... right up until the heart attack you get from the eight knobs ... of butter she tells you stuff in.

    River - No! Mustn't wipe! Mustn't clean! Leave the savoury traces on delight! And nice play on GTH...


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32