'The trouble with the French is they have no word for entrepreneur.' George W Bush
IT HAS always seemed a mistake to me for a woman to show that she can cook. A man can do it (often at great expense and mess) and he will be lauded, praised and not asked to do it again. A woman, on the other hand, will be expected to do it three times a day for the rest of her life. Not a principle to be established in this or any other female skills, methinks.
There are times, however, when even the most hardy feminist yearns to be a domestic goddess. This is linked to subliminal advertising. Even I can be vulnerable to this.
There can be no comparison between me and the Duchess of Cambridge. Yet, impressed by the site of her in "cheap" little high street frocks, I found myself at the computer ordering from Reiss and hoping that a silken frock would, if not give me a passing resemblance, then at least a contemporary connection.
Though my greater confession is an obsession with parcel tracking. Oh, it is at Tilbury, now at Heathrow, now in Bristol, Birmingham...it is almost a let-down when it arrives at one's doorstep. A bit like watching Michael Palin travel the world without the bother of going oneself.
Now I have been seduced by Rachel Khoo, a charming girl who graces our television screens, cooking delicious looking food from a tiny kitchen in Paris. It is not the food that appeals to me but Rachel herself.
Although not French she exudes Gallic lusciousness, a sort of plumpish je ne sais quoi, a girlish freshness in navy and white spotted frocks and tiny cardigans. She is relentlessly cheerful and appears to cook in a cupboard with only a chipped enamel bowl as accessory.
I bought her book, The Little Paris Kitchen which I recommend to you if, like me, you had forgotten just how wonderful French food can be. Over the years we have become bogged down in fusion and foraging. We have lost sight of the delights of the most simple but delicious French foods – creme brulee, tarte tatin, croque madame, lavender chicken.
Excited by the simple presentation of the book, and by the prospect of riding a bicycle and buying sunflowers like Rachel, I embarked on her salad de figures et foes de volatiles. Sadly Waitrose had neither figs nor fresh chicken livers – the two salient ingredients – so with a typically French shrug I donned my spotty frock, smeared a bright red Chanel lipstick over my mouth and cried "Vive la difference".
After all Rachel's book and French cooking is all about a fur coat and no knickers, as they say where I come from, and I can do that.
In this section
- 'Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.' Lewis Carroll
- 'The only athletic sport I have ever mastered is backgammon' Douglas Jerrold
- 'When I use a word,'Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.' Lewis Carroll 'Through the looking glass, and what Alice found there.'
- 'Being thick isn't an affliction if you are a footballer, because your brains need to be in your feet.' Brian Clough
- 'The British are not good at having fun. I get overexcited if there's a pattern on my kitchen roll.' Victoria Wood
- 'There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.' Winston Churchill
- 'How on earth did Gandhi manage to walk so far in flip-flops? I can't last ten minutes in mine.' Mrs Merton
- 'Ma always said that without tea the British would have lost both world wars.' Michael Bentine
- 'Visitors young and old will be amazed when they arrive at your home and see a larger than life fully lit outdoor reindeer complete with bells and sleigh.' A Christmas catalogue
- 'You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.' Norman Douglas