Last thursday evening saw me embraced by the ample bosom that is Yorkshire. I had an evening engagement in Sheffield, the oft-overlooked, Judas Priest-inspired steel town of the North. Every village, city and county has its rivalries. Dublin is divided by a river creating a historic division between the northsiders and southsiders; the west coast of Scotland labours under some delusional air of self-importance over the east-coast castle-keepers; and the dichotomy between the red and white roses of Yorkshire and Lancashire couldn’t be more documented in the annals of history. Over dinner I was offered various definitive definitions of a Yorkshireman (bear in mind, there seems no great interest in defining the women of those parts). Most descriptions alluded to the bluff, straight-talking nature of the folk, and the knockabout was most good-humoured. Then I heard a Yorkshireman described as a chap who was able to peel an orange in his pocket. Once I had settled the image in my mind, I struggled to comprehend its actual meaning. One-handed orange peeling sounds like a significantly skilled and decidedly dextrous task; add to that the limitation of having to peel ‘blind’, so to speak, the fruit remaining pocket-esconced during the entire procedure. I was soon warming to this idea of a Yorkshireman, although struggling to find any meaningful application for skin removal à la poche. It was only then I realised that a man who can peel an orange in his pocket does not need to alert the world to the presence of said orange, and therefore segment-sharing is fiendishly avoided. It still begged a single question: why an orange?
There is an artistry to food, a creativity, a craft. As a gastrophile, I am only too aware of the pictures painted on plates by the likes of Angela Hartnett, Martin Wishart and Bryn Williams.