reading about food

May 7th, 2012 | Category: books, food

I love reading about food. I often pick up Jane Grigson or Elizabeth David and open at random for a comfort (re)read. I take cook books to bed with me. Last weekend I read ‘Love & Hunger, Thoughts on the gift of food’, by Charlotte Wood. As the title suggests, this is not simply a book of good recipes, although it contains plenty of those. It is an exploration of the psychological and philosophical layers of meaning that are folded into our relationship with food and cooking. So, it’s also a book about love, friendship, family, sickness, and death.

This book is full of practical hints and tips on everything from pantry staples, to why temperature is important when making pastry, to wrangling a perfectly cooked roast chicken. It’s a book for any skill level – from supercooks to beginners, and it’s a wonderful read, as visitors to Charlotte’s blog How to Shuck an Oyster would expect.

After howling with laughter at the stories of horrible Home Ec food, and plain old howling, remembering cooking for a friend during her chemotherapy treatment, I went back to page 81 – just the recipe I needed for the too-many mandarins sitting on my bench. This Whole Orange Cake is a classic; delicious, and not the slightest bit temperamental.

2 whole oranges (I used 5 mandarins)
250g castor sugar
6 eggs, beaten
250g almond meal
One and a half teaspoons baking powder (I used 1 teaspoon bicarb – for a gluten-intolerant family member)

I won’t reproduce the method word for word, but it’s very easy.
Put the whole oranges (or tangellos, or mandarins) into a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil, simmer for 2 hours, large fruit, or 1 hour mandarins)
Drain, cool, cut in quarters, remove pips.
Preheat oven to 180.
Process fruit till smooth.
Add sugar, almond meal, baking powder, process to combine.
Add mixture to beaten eggs, stir well to combine.
Pour batter into a buttered, lined cake tin.
Bake for approx one hour, till skewer inserted comes out clean.
May need to cover loosely with foil after half an hour if browning too quickly.
Cool in tin before turning out.
I used a 27cm tin, the recipe calls for 24cm, which will give you a deeper cake.
(Charlotte uses a cooler oven, 150 degrees (aha! – and so probably doesn’t need to cover her cake w foil))
I made a quick syrup with mandarin juice, brown sugar, mandarin segments, teaspoon rose water, two teaspoons orange blossom water, and scattered some pomegranate seeds on the cake.

Can’t wait to try the pomegranate honey, p30.

And I have never brined a chicken before, but intend to try that soon, too.

4 responses to “reading about food”

  1. Matt Armstrong says:

    Hey Fiona.

    I got a copy of a Home and Away script extract, however I have one question that I don’t know about and could you help me out with it.

    The dialogue is numbered so it might be:

    1. ALF (or) 1 ALF
    Stone the flaming crows

    Is the numbering before the character name automatic or do you do it manually? Do you know how to make it do that on a template? Cheers, Matt.

    • fiona says:

      Hi there, Matt, the numbering on lines of dialogue is done by the script department as part of the editing process, not by the writer.

  2. Matt Armstrong says:

    Thanks. So you just type:

    Stone the flaming crows


    Also, when writers write, do they recieve a document that has who’s in a scene, what they are talking about and what happens in that scene and the writer has to write the actions, dialogue and paratheticals or what?

    • fiona says:

      It varies a lot from show to show, Matt, with the one-hour drama format requiring the most input from writers about everything that happens in an episode. On a show like Home and Away, the writer meets with the in-house script team and talks through all the ideas for the episode in question, and how that story might best be told, taking into account all the restrictions on cast and how the episode will be divided between studio time and location time. Then the writer generates a document called a scene breakdown. This is prose description of what will happen in each scene. Once that is approved, and any changes are fed into it by production and script people, the next step is writing the script itself. And, yes, the script you deliver just has the scene headings, a list of all character in the scene, and then each character name above the dialogue line he or she will be delivering, as well as ‘big print’ – the action lines, and anything that needs to be in parenthesis – which goes after the character name and before the dialogue line. But I’m not sure why you need all this information, and I haven’t written for H and A for years, now, so my information may be quite out of date. The best way to engage with a show like this is to contact THEM – just get the name of the script producer from the credits, ring the network, say you would like to send that person an email, and ask if you can have their email address; if they don’t want to give you the email, write the script producer a polite letter via snail mail – and ask if they are accepting any submissions at the moment, or have any in-house observer opportunities coming up for which you can apply. If they want to see your work, I’m sure they will happily send you some current guidelines.

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