So, it was midnight and I was heading back east through the Blackwall tunnel when I suddenly had an epiphany, a bolt from the blue, a flash of lightning!
Yes, after an evening of wondering where my life as a chef would take me next, and it’s not that I don’t have enough going on, I made one (some might call crazy) decision to cook my way through the entire recipes in the holy grail of chef books, to some chefs, the only book worth having – Larousse Gastronomique.
Larousse Gastronomique is the definitive encyclopaedia of chef terms and meanings, and recipes, that represent essential world renowned culinary marvel. This is the ‘World’s most famous culinary reference book.’ The vision of Prosper Montagne, a French chef, who created the first edition, published in Paris in 1938. Twenty-three years later and an English edition was published…and the rest they say, is history.
I’ve decided on two dishes a day, for the next…well, however long it might take, in order to produce some fine dishes that I hope will make grown men and women cry.
Of course, having a chef background and some qualifications helps but the time has come to revisit those heady days of making Espagnole and Hollandaise and to really delve into the unknown, places I’ve never been but wanted to try.
Starting from A (the beginning of course) the first two dishes are like a little softener from Larousse, a gentle easing in before really punching me in the face with some serious gourmet treats that involve two maybe three essential other elements even before being able to put the main dish together.
I’ve always believed that taste is subjective and one man’s (or woman’s) nectar is another man’s poison. However, judging from the dishes in my Larousse Gastronomique, I am sure every meal will be like a step closer to heaven.
For reference (in case all you food nerds were wondering), the edition I am using is the 2001 version (latest) published by Hamlyn and overseen by Gastronomic Committee President Joël Robuchon.
And so…to the first two dishes…
1. Vegetable Achar with lemon: A pickled blend of vegetables, lemon and spices, once prepared can be easily stored and eaten accordingly.
Achar: An Indian term for a pickle.
Total prep time: 36 hours
2. Salt-cod Acras: A savoury fritter made by mixing a spiced puree of vegetables or fish with fritter batter.
Acras: Popular in the Caribbean, served very hot as a starter, or with punch as a cocktail snack.
Total prep and cooking time: 25 and a half hours