Richard Sennett

The Table | 2 August 2008

At a House of Commons cocktail party I suddenly noticed a friend’s face contorted like ‘The Scream’ of Edvard Munch. Could it be yet more bad news for Labour? No, she was being offered a plate of smoked salmon, probably her thousandth munch for the year. I entirely sympathised; the stuff usually served up is

The Table | 5 July 2008

What passes for summer is finally upon us in the British Isles. Between bouts of rain, we can finally inhale the sun-tan oil, note that last year’s swimsuit seems to have shrunk over the winter and fire up the barbecue. Cooking outdoors connects us to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and, while the Oxford Culinary Conference undoubtedly

Saffron studies

Recently I enticed my niece to a gastronome’s dinner during the London Food Festival. She is about to enter university, and I thought it was about time she learnt to taste. The evening proved a disaster; after a lengthy discussion of saffron she turned to me and asked, with quiet rage, ‘How can they carry

Cheese politics

‘No buffalo-thyme pizza?’ The grazing grounds around Naples are poisoned, grounds on which herds of water buffalo feed to produce Italy’s most delicate cheese. This ecological disaster has had a knock-on effect even here in Texas, where a rather-too-elegant youth and I are taking a snack break from the rigours of the Obama campaign. Sales

Cheating at food

‘Ecraser l’infâme!’ Voltaire proclaimed in his war on corrupt priests and crooked government officials. Delia’s Smith’s new book How to Cheat at Cooking opens up a whole new field of infamy: the culinary crime. As in 18th-century politics, so in 21st-century cuisine, it’s the public who gets cheated. Madame Smith’s sassy title is meant to

Food to go

In the midst of an author tour for a new book, I am confronting both the worst evils of fast food and some surprising exceptions. Writers today cannot simply write books; readers want to see you in the flesh, talk to you, send you thoughts or their own fledgling manuscripts. I actually enjoy the human

Fatty but fashionable

January meant marrow-bones in my youth. For most of the year on my housing estate in Chicago, beef featured at best twice a week; after the expense of the holidays it became temporarily an impossible luxury. Beef soup appeared instead, and marrow-bones were the one redeeming treat, the marrow inside the bones creamy-rich; we dug

Talking turkey | 1 December 2007

With the holidays approaching, foodies are grumbling again about turkey. The domesticated bird is overweight, too fat to fly; in cooking, turkeys easily dry out; their meat, especially the breast, is tasteless. Why bother? So I thought many years ago, when I served instead at Christmas a suckling pig, beautifully stretched out on the platter,

Ethical eating

Since I wrote in The Spectator a fortnight ago about the ‘Say no to foie gras’ campaign, my email has been flooded with protests. Animal-rights groups have claimed that I am wet, limp, cravenly judicious; I should have said that force-fed geese are a symbol of the evil Man everywhere does to animals. Partisans of

Just say no | 6 October 2007

In New York, I head for Citarella on Broadway only to be confronted by a noisy demo at the entrance. (Among New York foodies, Citarella is to Whole Foods what in London Waitrose is to Tesco.) People in straw sandals and peasant dresses are handing out leaflets proclaiming ‘Say no to foie gras!’ Citarella is

Let it hang

The game season is upon us, and game is rather shaming. We have so much of it in Britain but we don’t cook it very adventurously. This is particularly true of game birds like partridge, quail and wild duck — wonderful birds which deserve better than over-roasting and gooey fruit sauces. Most of the game

Tomato snobbism

It happened in New York. As I reached for a small basket of ‘heirloom tomatoes, Little Compton Farms’ I felt my lips curling slightly — was it out of pity or contempt? — on account of the poor soul next to me who had merely chosen ‘vine-ripened organic’. It happened in New York. As I