Thursday, 13 June 2013


I should look up where this word comes from in the context of cooking. It sounds violent enough: cod that's been beaten up, anyone? It has the same lip-smacking, tongue-tooth clashing sounds as one of its ingredients, butter.

There is something immensely satisfactory about the way that it turns from liquid into crisp solidity, hardening into the shape of the thing it surrounds; somehow it enhances a dish by simplifying it. Think of a flaky tempura prawn; the best I ever found were in a Japanese shop, now sadly closed, in Chinatown. Or fish from a fish and chip shop. And there are those little bits of loose batter that they'll give you for free if you ask. Perhaps the ultimate in simplicity is the white ladleful turned into a golden pancake. Pancakes which should never be merely crisp, but crisp and melting.

Bur it can be dull, something to chew through, such as bad Yorkshire Pudding. Then, of course, it can be a disguise for something horrid: spam fritter, for instance. Or it can make something utterly unhealthy even unhealthier: deep-fried Mars Bars (do they really exist?) and even deep fried pizza: yuk is not a word I often use as I try to recognise that it is reasonable for others to love food that I detest, but: yuk.

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