Kirsty presents – The Chopping Board

When I first heard about Zoe’s new blog venture it was in the very same breath that I heard of its demise as well. Oh, how disappointed I was.

Enticed by Zoe’s recollection of setting up the site, I was all set to read more of the humour that I had so grown to enjoy at CrazyBrave applied to all things culinary. But then she told of how, in the middle of writing a post about substituting ingredients in a recipe for muesli bars, she was overcome by a moment of extreme self-consciousness, at which point she declared the blog had folded before it even began.

The cause of Zoe’s doubt was an ingredient so utterly pretentious that its name could not be uttered without rousing every latent fear she had concerning accusations of food-related onanism—the likes of which, no doubt, had not been bandied about since the heady days of the Culture Wars, when aficionados of lattes and those purporting to represent lovers of meat pies faced off over barricades built by the Murdoch Press Corps.

It is only since Progressive Dinner Party has gone ahead anyway that I’ve figured out that the fly in the ointment, or the affected berry in the muesli so to speak, was the goji berry, alleged purveyor of every health benefit imaginable.

Before I knew about the inhibiting effects of the goji berry, however, I got to thinking about the notion of pretentious ingredients. What makes a foodstuff pretentious? What makes a foodstuff down-to-earth, the proverbial humble pie? Who is qualified to declare such things?

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Introducing Kirsty

I’m very excited to welcome another contributor to Progressive Dinner Party, Kirsty. She blogs on life, the academy, food, and the long road of the commuter at Galaxy of Emptiness and is also a contributor to the pre-eminent Australian culture blog, Sarsaparilla. Kirsty is a television scholar, which is one of those careers that sounds utterly fascinating but is something of a challenge to explain it to your Aunty Ethel.

Her“Gastropod” series at Galaxy long ago revealed her as a talented and thoughtful cook, and I’m thrilled she’ll be doing some food-related writing here too. Her first piece, the interactive “Chopping Board” appears below.

Single Malts: You Decide

As Talisker is to boy, [blank] is to girl.


Updated to add: you would not believe how funny that seemed last night. The other one’s an Ardbeg by the way, but I think there must be a girlier whiskey. My tip is if you are going to cap off the new “no drinking Monday to Thursday” regime with an unplanned dinner party followed by stupid excess on the Friday, try to have plans for Saturday morning that don’t require staring down a giant pot of chicken and pig bits:

blanched bits

Fishmonger talk

Them? They’re called bayla, love. The Aussies buy ’em for the shell and throw the meat away. The Chinese people bash through the shell to get to the meat.


We were talking about the one in the front at the bottom. I can’t find out anything much about them, other than that it seems to be a gastropod(!) May even have the name wrong – although I made him spell it out for me I didn’t write it down. Anyone ever eaten one?

Introducing Nabakov

Nabakov is a man who needs no introduction to many Australian bloggers. He does not keep his own blog, but is renowned as as one of the most stylish and witty commenters around. Able to excoriate the execrable like no other, he is also generous of spirit and charming in his ability to find the joy in life.

I have had the good fortune to meet Nabakov on a couple of occasions, and can confirm that he is able to drink me under the table (a rare talent when I’m in form) and wear a white trouser like few men can. His love of the good things in life extends to food and drink, and I’m very pleased to announce he’ll be educating us all about how a stylish man about town keeps himself fed and impresses the ladies. His first post, Sexy Pink Mashed Potatoes, follows. Unless you’re reading in a feedreader, in which case you’ve probably just finished reading it.

Nabakov presents – Sexy Pink Mashed Potatoes

compleat bachelor fare archive

One of my favourites and I feel an excellent example of bachelor cooking at its best. Why? Because it works as a v. tasty and stylish addition to a romantic candlelit dinner on the balcony or as comfort food spooned right out of the saucepan while watching “Enter The Dragon” in your undergarments. And like most bachelors of independent means, it’s rich and thick. Also you only have to wash up one saucepan and two or three utensils afterwards. (Anyone who gets round to inventing a combination clothes and dishwasher has got my dollar.)

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How to cook like Bridget Jones

Do you remember in Bridget Jones’ Diary how her attempt to impress a boy with leek and potato soup failed when the string she’d used to tie the leeks dyed the whole soup a lurid blue? This is how Bridget would make a nice rice custard.

She’d follow the directions for Jill Dupleix’ excellent version down to the letter.* Just a minute or two before it was ready she’d have to rush out to pick up her son from kindy, so she’d put a piece of plastic film over the surface so it didn’t form a nasty skin. Being somewhat of an environmentalist, she’d spurn purchased plastic film and re-use a plastic bag. Because she is an utter nong she’d reuse a bag with lovely pink writing on it.

Bridget Jones' rice custard

I have made this a hundred times and I can still stuff it up. Never mind, scrape the pink shit off and top with lots of ground cinnamon.

So what’s the most stupid thing you’ve done in the kitchen lately?

* I have the hardback Old Food, since reprinted as a softcover called “Favourite Food: New Ways with the World’s Best Recipes“. I liked the old title better myself.