Don’t be seduced by fake truffle oil this Christmas

Truffles smell of sex. Even if we can’t quite say what we mean by ‘smell’ or ‘sex’ in this sentence, the much sought-after underground fungi emit something analogous to the pheromones that subconsciously attract us to other human beings. On the conscious level, these members of the family Tuberaceae release aromas ranging from floral to garlic to petrol to old socks, which pigs and dogs also find appealing. It can be faked, too. Most so-called truffle oil gets its scent from the chemical 2,4-Dithiapentane. In Truffle Hound, his pacy travelogue-cum-foodie manual, Rowan Jacobsen deals with about a dozen species of truffles (or other near-truffle fungi). In practice, there are only

An intensely quiet and soulful performance from Nicolas Cage: Pig reviewed

What use does a fallen and corrupted world have for a man of integrity? This was not the question I had anticipated walking away with after viewing the new Nicolas Cage indie Pig, but much of the film, from Cage’s intensely quiet and soulful performance to the new ideas it has to offer a very old narrative, was a satisfying surprise. The film is ultimately a story of revenge, but it plays out in unexpected ways. Cage is Robin Feld, a man living off the grid with only a truffle pig and a recording of his deceased wife for companions and a trade in the luxury food item as an

Lame and formulaic: Black Widow reviewed

Black Widow is the latest Marvel film and although I’d sworn off these films a while ago, due to sheer boredom, I was tempted back by the fact that this one stars a lady (Scarlett Johansson) and another lady (Florence Pugh) and even a third lady (Rachel Weisz) and is directed by a lady (Cate Shortland). Could be wonderful, I thought, except it isn’t. More women is its only decent idea. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. Otherwise, it’s all formulaic bish-bosh, smash-crash action scenes broken up by lame jokes and lame philosophising along the lines of: ‘Your pain only makes you stronger.’ Not if you’re dying in hospital and they’ve