Friday, January 12, 2007

Squalid Danish

I've just read the best thing about language/writing that I've seen for ages. Go and take a look, even if you're not interested in cooking: the FT reprints Elizabeth David's critique c. 1964 of the early supper menu's at London club Annabel's. If I were teaching a writing class, I would totally assign this as inspiration for workshop critiques:

The first course dishes should be set out with the utmost precision and clarity. This must be the most orderly and organised section of the menu. Oysters, caviar, smoked salmon, smoked eel, smoked trout and sardines should come first. (Couldn’t they be called French sardines? Vintage sardines sounds awfully affected.) Then charcuterie such as foie gras, rillettes, pâté if any, Parma, Bayonne or San Daniele ham, smoked turkey, Salame. Why don’t you have a dish of three or four kinds of Italian salame? No single restaurant in the whole of England offers a choice of authentic salame. Never anything but that dreary mass-produced Milanese or squalid Danish. But there are good salame imported. They must be freshly sliced, brought to table on a dish and left on it, not on the customer’s plate. Then cooked or raw vegetable hors-d’oeuvre, ie asparagus, celéri-rave rémoulade, broccoli, artichoke vinaigrette. Then eggs in jelly, egg mayonnaise, langoustines mayonnaise, potted shrimps. Then avocado and melon. No need to go on about the melon or what kind it is. It should be understood that Annabel’s provides the best of what’s going.

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