Sunday, May 25, 2008
Some delicate, if hasty, dishes
Before Heston Blumenthal there was Eduardo de Pomaine, a French scientist and food writer, whose Cooking in 10 Minutes adapts French Edwardian cooking to the pace of modern life in postwar France. The slim volume, published in 1948, reads something like Delia Smith (in ...Cheat mode) via Raymond Queneau.
de Pomaine's food science is pragmatist - not nouvelle - cuisine (faggots and French onion, not foam and emulsion), but as a moonlighting bacteriologist, his recipes have an unsettling touch of the Frankensteins. His no-nonsense bark makes a pleasant change from Nigel Slater's ever-priapic food poetics.
It's his cantankerous interjections, however, together with gross-out, austerity-era recipes, delivered with a scientist's lack of squeamishness, that really make this funny food-novella. What's more, de Pomaine's convenience cookery is not the stuff of "cash rich/time poor" Sunday supplement quick suppers, in fact, he's quite the old romantic:
My book is meant for the student, for the midinette, for the clerk, for the artist, for lazy people, poets, men of action, dreamers and scientists, for everyone who has only an hour for lunch or dinner and yet wants half an hour of peace to watch the smoke of a cigarette whilst they sip a cup of coffee which has not even time to get cold.
Modern life spoils so much that is pleasant. Let us see that it does not make us spoil our steak or our omelette. Ten minutes are sufficient - one minute more and all would be lost.
His profile, from the Pasteur Institute where he worked as a physician, is here.