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October 2018

Tomato and feta skillet bake (7 of 9)

There are questions in life that one simply doesn’t ask. Don’t ask a woman her dress size, her age or how many glasses of Pinot Grigio she drank this morning. Whatever you do, don’t ask when the baby is due. Don’t ask a man when he was last in the gym, how much he earns or how many pints he knocks back in a week. For that, don’t ask him when the baby is due either. Any of you from the creative industry will know to not ask for the original video footage or the InDesign files. Don’t ask a cyclist how much he or she spent on the bike (See footnote). All of you should know to never ask a chef for his recipe. It’s just not done. So, when one of Ireland’s top flight Chef Patrons offers you a recipe, take it and try it. But, don’t ask for another. It’s simply not done.

There are things that I love about food descriptions and things that I hate. In Oriental cookery, many of the descriptions are truly evocative and allude to history and culture in equal measure. Great examples include “General Tso’s Chicken”. This evokes thoughts of the great Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader. That’s as far as it goes as there is no known connection to him or the dish in his home province of Hunan. This dish is punching above it’s cultural weight as it really is just a sweet, sticky American chicken with rice. Then we have “Man and Wife Beef”, “Squirrel Fish” and the classic “100 Year Old Egg”. Great names all. But, sometimes possibly going wide of the trade descriptions act.

In my earlier days, I worked in the advertising business. Back then, it wasn’t frequent but not unusual to be involved in TV shoots that would last for days on end. The anticipation of working “on a shoot” added to the street cred that it gave one in the pub. Even I succumbed on occasion to saying things like “It may look like a lot of fun, but, it’s hard work.” “The ‘talent’ can be difficult to manage.” or “He’s one of the most gifted producers in world film today. We’re really lucky to have secured him for this paint commercial.”  In fact, working on a big budget TV commercial back in the days of 35mm film was a royal pain in the arse. Unplugging a light could stop a commercial for hours as union labour rights were reestablished. Not having a ‘chippie’ (carpenter) on set could send the project south altogether. Everything seemed to take an age. For the hapless client service executive (me) it meant hours of sitting around doing nothing but being on high alert in case the client wanted anything. God forbid that the customer requested a change at the last minute. That would surely send the day’s shoot into overtime and lead to a vast bill with everybody involved (except me and the client) getting paid a big bonus. The best thing about those days was hearing the director call “It’s a wrap.”

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