I came across a fantastic essay about food writing recently called Food Porn, by Molly O’Neill. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I read it, and especially since Heidi Swanson’s piece on 12 years of blogging I’ve been thinking about it in the context of what sort of space I’d like this blog to be.
Because although I think that making things taste nice is supremely important, I can’t think about that taste in a vacuum. I’m fascinated by so many things about food: what dictates the choices we make and how they affect the people who supply our food; the effect of our food policies on the environment, and – closer to home – our waistlines; what our choices say about us; how our bodies respond to them; what to do about it.
It’s a big subject, food, and while I don’t ever want to preach or stand on my high horse and dictate what is right and what is wrong – there are enough people doing that already; eat these 5 surprising foods to burn belly fat, anyone? – I don’t want to sell either of us short, either, by skirting around the edges of such an interesting topic.
Of course, I’ll still be sharing recipes, because I still believe food is delicious. They’ll still be the same recipes I’d have told you about before now, because the way I eat is what I talk about here, and whatever I put on our plates has to muddle through all of that stuff above first.
And I won’t be sitting down to write an insightful, longform essay every week; I don’t have the time, nor probably the brainpower. But I will be less scared to share with you what I’ve been reading, or thinking about, and I hope that you’ll join in the conversation and make me think thoughts I hadn’t had before and read things I wouldn’t otherwise have read.
I’m looking forward to it.
In the meantime, here’s a salad from one of the food writers I admire the most. If you don’t have any of her books, I can’t recommend them enough, particularly A Change of Appetite (which this recipe is from) and Food From Plenty.
Recipe after the jump.
thai mango chicken salad
From Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite. I’ve tweaked it slightly to be more weeknight-friendly, and it is a very accommodating salad if you want to improvise further. I’ve had it with green beans and shredded cabbage instead of watercress, with just a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of oil instead of the dressing, and it’s been equally delicious.
Enough for 4
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
6 spring onions
1 ripe mango and 1 green mango
3 red chillies
2tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2tbsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
2tbsp groundnut oil
50g coriander leaves
40g mint leaves
50g watercress leaves
1 1/2tbsp peanuts, roughly chopped
Bring a large pan of water to a gentle boil, and poach the chicken breasts for around 20 minutes until there’s no trace of pinkness showing when you cut into them, then remove them from the water and leave to cool slightly.
Trim the spring onions and slice them diagonally. Peel the mangoes, slice the flesh from them and cut it into lengths about the thickness of two matchsticks. Cut the chicken into strips and finely shred the chillies, then add spring onions, mangoes, chicken and chillies to a serving bowl along with the fish sauce, sugar, oil and lime juice.
Remove the large stalks from the watercress and put that into the bowl too, with the herbs, then toss everything together and scatter with the peanuts.