Praise, rants, interviews and comment from some of Britain’s liveliest food writers.
8 February 2017

Whale, puffin and fermented herring: the forbidden foods of Scandinavia


The wilder shores of Nordic cuisine are explored in two books by  Swedish chef/photographer Magnus Nilsson.  Even Christopher Hirst has second thoughts… Published in 2015 and running to 760 pages, the Nordic Cook Book by the Swedish chef/photographer Magnus Nilsson is comprehensive but unwieldy. Possibly because his photographs are a little lost amid the 700 […]

4 February 2017

Kale – king of the greens


When lettuce is rationed and broccoli is just a memory, what do you eat instead…. a steaming bowlful of British kale, advises Edan Ambrose In a winter world of post-truth, alternative facts and totalitarianism, the last thing you want is a thinning plateful of iceberg…. How fortunate then, that supplies of salad from Spanish farmers […]

Seville Marmalade
17 January 2017

Alice’s marmalade


Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see […]

8 January 2017

Porridge: an exacting test of character


Cold, wet and miserable…? A bowl of hot oats is the answer says Sally Bayley, but getting it right requires patience On a wintry day there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of porridge. ‘This will soon warm us through’ my grandmother would say as we hovered over the hob. My grandmother taught me […]

7 January 2017

A clam chowder supper in Nantucket


Before joining Captain Ahab’s pursuit of the great white whale, the narrator Ishmael and the harpooner Queequeg take lodgings at the Try Pots Inn in Nantucket, where the bellowed menu consists solely of ‘Clam or Cod?’ When the landlady Mrs Hussey takes the former as answer, Ishmael starts to worry. ‘Queequeg, do you think we […]

21 December 2016

New Year biscuit hygge


Old Norse  tradition suggests that you should have, at the very least, seven sorts of biscuits for the winter festivities.  That poses no problems for Norwegian baker Rune Wold; he has the  recipes that will add ‘hygge’ to your New Year table… Originally from the squally west coast of Norway, Rune Wold now lives in […]

15 December 2016

Gin revival – the heart of a good cocktail


Christopher Hirst visits darkest Clapham to discover the secrets of premium gins… It is appropriate that Thames Distillers, a major player in the recent revival of London gin, is located not in the Victorian garret you might expect, but in a suburb. You will find the company, which makes gins for over 50 clients including […]

18 November 2016

Stir-up Sunday


In this darkest of years, it may be that sanity, or at least a sense of hope, could come from a brief return to a now almost defunct Christmas ritual: pudding-making on Stir-up Sunday. The term Stir-up Sunday, or the 25th Sunday after Trinity,  comes from the opening words of the Collect for the day […]

31 October 2016

Lord Byron laments the dietary insularity of his manservant


Towards the end of his two-year Grand Tour, Byron explained in a letter to his mother why he had dispatched his manservant Fletcher, a Brexiter avant la letter, back to England. Besides the perpetual lamentations after beef & beer, the stupid, bigoted contempt for every thing foreign, and insurmountable incapacity of acquiring even a few […]

30 October 2016

Ingredients of an Ottoman thriller


Even in mid-case, it was impossible to keep Yashim, the flawed Turkish hero at the heart  of his series of detective stories, out of the kitchen, reveals author  Jason Goodwin When I started to write The Janissary Tree, the first of Yashim’s five adventures set in Ottoman Istanbul, I had no idea that Yashim would […]

22 October 2016

Raising a glass with Papa


Christopher Hirst explores the life of Ernest Hemingway through his favourite cocktails The world’s greatest writers and artists have inspired a tasty genre of cookbooks. Through anthologies of their favourite dishes, it is possible to join Proust, Monet, Dickens, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso at the table. But only one cultural titan has inspired books about […]

6 October 2016

Joseph Mitchell’s wonderful obsession


Christopher Hirst explores the fishy passion of a great American journalist and the book that inspired him… A star writer on the New Yorker in its Forties and Fifties heyday, Joseph Mitchell (1908-1996) is regarded as one of the great names of journalism. His collected writing for the magazine, published under the title Up in […]

24 September 2016

MFK Fisher eats tripes a la mode de Caen in Dijon


The small restaurant is gone now but for a long time it served some of the simplest and lustiest meals I have ever eaten… There were always snails, of course, except in very hot weather, and in the cool months oysters out on the sidewalks in kelpy baskets, and both downed by the dozens. There […]

20 September 2016

Cooking with Sylvia


Apricots and cream cheese, basil and bay leaves – Sylvia Plath’s shopping-lists were works of art in themselves. Sally Bayley delves into her diaries to find out more… Writing from Cambridge, England, in 1957, the budding future writer Sylvia Plath tells herself to ‘set each scene deep, love it like a faceted jewel.’ Plath’s writing […]

14 September 2016

From Borough to Barcelona


Working as a waitress in a Catalunya bar, Monika Linton became passionate about Spanish food. Emma Hagestadt talks to the woman who introduced chorizo, Monte Enebro cheese and tapas to a hungry British public With so many new cook books flooding the market every year, it’s sometimes hard to say which will become keepers on […]

7 September 2016

Sam Weller’s impersonation of an oyster


We have said that Mr Weller was engaged in preparing for his journey to London – he was taking sustenance, in fact. On the table before him, stood a pot of ale, a cold round of beef, and a very respectable-looking loaf, to each of which he distributed his favours in turn, with the most […]

5 September 2016

Preserving the lessons of the past


‘Use your eyes, ears and nose and appreciate everything that happens…!’ Sage advice from Elizabeth Luard, a food writer who has never been afraid to grab life, or indeed her dinner, by the horns. By Emma Hagestadt Over the course of a long and influential career, Luard has not only penned several classic cook books, […]

22 August 2016

Lord Byron’s Diet


Prone to podginess, Lord Byron engaged in periodic diets. Like certain celebrities of the present day, these tended to be ostentatious in their eccentricity. The wealthy banker and minor poet William Rogers (1763-1855) described the dismaying consequence when he asked Byron to join a literary soirée at his house. ‘When we sat down to dinner, […]

20 August 2016

Dulse delicious


Seaweed is the latest superfood to hit the health shops, but its use can be traced back to Mesolithic man and the early Irish monks. Xa Milne investigates My love affair with seaweed started a long time ago, prompted by a strange pregnancy craving for brown rice and seaweed, which was satisfied by a local […]

4 August 2016

Fish from the Rialto


How Christopher Hirst brought his supper from Venice to London… Probably the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed fish market in the world is at the Rialto in Venice. Dating from before 1100, its dozen large stalls run along the left bank of the Grand Canal. The heart of the market consists of a two-storey […]

3 August 2016

Where fast food means a pie


World Gravy Wrestling, Black Pudding Throwing, Pie Eating … there’s nothing Lancashire doesn’t know about food, says Charles Nevin I am not a foodie. This is not a boast so much as a regret: got the stomach for it, but not the palate. No, really: I speak as a man who once asked a French […]

1 August 2016

Sweet-hearts of the bean field


What transforms a humdrum vegetable into a favourite ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine? Christopher Hirst rediscovers a seasonal treat… Broad beans are a spring highlight in the Mediterranean. Marcella Hazan, regarded by many as the finest Italian cookery writer, describes them as ‘the most alluring of fresh beans, regrettably limited to a short period in early […]

Yasmin Khan author pic small
20 July 2016

Saffron and rose water


  On a journey from  the mountains of Tabriz to the cafes of Tehran and the fishing ports of the Persian Gulf, Yasmin Khan revisits the food of her childhood.   She talks to  Emma Hagestadt It all began with pomegranates. As a child, Yasmin Khan would cling to her mother’s knees as she got ready […]

12 July 2016

Boat cuisine…


What can you expect for supper on board a small yacht half way across the Atlantic? Strangely, not a lot of fish, reveals intrepid sailor, Tim Halford Ever since standing on Horta harbour in the Azores in the late 1980s, I had had a dream of crossing the Atlantic on a yacht. Now in my […]

Brushing Meats with BBQ Sauce
1 July 2016

Pleased to meat you


The Texan barbecue has made it to the UK, so dig a fire-pit, chop up the coleslaw and celebrate July 4th with a piece of lusciously marinaded brisket. By Edan Ambrose An April specialising in arctic winds and blizzards of snow which turned the tulips into stiff white lollipops above a sea of mud may […]

25 June 2016

Duke Ellington’s diet


From The Hot Bach, a 1944 New Yorker profile of Duke Ellington by Richard O. Boyer Duke, who is always worrying about keeping his weight down, may announce that he intends to have nothing but Shredded Wheat and black tea. . . . Duke’s resolution about not overeating frequently collapses at this point. When it […]

25 June 2016

Our Manifesto: 10 Proposals for British Food


For the first issue of Bread & Oysters, Christopher Hirst makes 10 Food Proposals ranging from how to eat Yorkshire pudding to a rousing cheer for butter. Stressing simplicity, seasonality and quality, they form a manifesto for this online magazine. Like Anna Del Conte’s 10 Commandments of Italian Food, recently published in The Guardian, we […]

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4 May 2016

Milking it


Of the many things that supermarkets have had a hand in – some good, some bad – one of the most significant, in purely sociological terms at least, must be the demise of the milk bottle By Edan Ambrose Hardly anyone now gets their milk delivered to the door. Price wars between the supermarket giants […]

23 April 2016

Sour views of sourdough


by Christopher Hirst The sourdough bread now making a tentative appearance in UK supermarkets was rubbished in a recent Guardian taste test. Top place (6.5/10) went to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference San Francisco¬style sourdough, which was praised for its “bristly, lactic tang” despite “unappealing looks”. It led by a head from Asda’s As Chosen By […]