Sunday, March 14, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 11: Food and Shakespeare.

Cookbook author Gordon Ramsay is interviewed in the Observer on his annus horribilis (Observer):
After a year of scandal in his personal life and financial woes in his business empire, Gordon Ramsay looks back with some regret – and some anger – and looks forward to his latest British restaurant opening.
He books under the name Gordon, not Ramsay, so as not to scare the chefs, but he still finds he has to wait 15 minutes longer than other diners for each course, so eager is everyone to impress. At Hotel Le Bristol he encountered a chicken dish for two costing €260. "I'd get stabbed in this country if I charged that! Even if the chicken had its arse wiped every day by the farmer and they said its feathers were shampooed by John Frieda – I'd be shot. Even if the chicken was delivered by the Queen's driver and had this little Armani dressing gown on before it got taken to the slaughterhouse."
I ask about the swearing. "Fuck!" he said. "When you saw those two Kitchen Nightmares condensed into one – last year when they had those 298 'fucks' – I wasn't proud of that. There has come a time when, at the age of 43, I'm getting a bit tired of the foul-mouthed bully chef. But I've never tried to get the Great British blue-rinse nation to start falling in love with me. I don't want a radical change where I have to put a woolly hat and scarf on and go round every Women's Institute and improve their Victoria sponge or show them a much better recipe for spotted dick."
"What have I learned?" Ramsay wonders in the car. "I've learned that outside the UK I'm not going to hold the baby with the liabilities coming out of my own pocket. One reason I lost €1.3m in Paris is because the French have become fucking lazy. They want to work 32 hours a week and they call themselves uniquely talented chefs. We do that work in two days over here.
And there is more where that came from.

If you visit Chicago you have to go to Rick Bayless' restaurant Topolobampo and in addition to Gordon, Rick also has cookbooks (Observer):

For six years he lived part time in Los Angeles and part time in Mexico with his wife Deanne, working on his first book, Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico, written before he had opened a restaurant. "I would go into Mexico and detail everything that was available," he says of these years of research. "I would go into restaurants and list everything they were cooking, how they were cooking it. Because I was light-skinned, marketholders would view me with suspicion if I took notes." They would assume he was some kind of policeman. "So I had to memorise exactly what these ingredients were that they were selling. What they were used for."

With the book completed he was drawn back to Chicago. "I thought I was going to become a food writer but at the same time I knew I needed to do something else. Suddenly I was not driven to write about the food. I had to cook it." With the help of wealthy friends from Los Angeles he opened the Frontera Grill. I suggest to him that the restaurant was essentially his interest in anthropology expressed by another means. "I think that's exactly right." The title of his long-running television show for PBS and the book that has accompanied it, Mexico –One Plate at a Time, speaks to that sense of a man working to understand a country directly through its food.

Robert Crum picks on Americans as he discusses the question "Who really wrote Shakespeare?" (Observer):
Surely not that 'upstart crow' from Stratford? As James Shapiro's new book rehearses the loony arguments about our greatest playwright, we ask some of today's finest Shakespearean actors and directors their thoughts on the authorship question.
Delia Bacon was a formidable advocate for her namesake. Of course no one individual could possibly have written the plays attributed to Shakespeare. He was little better than a "pet horse-boy at Blackfriars", "an old showman and hawker of plays", an out-and-out "stupid, illiterate, third-rate play actor". The catchy vehemence of her arguments eventually got debated by two riverboat pilots on the Mississippi, one of whom, Samuel Clemens, would become the most famous writer in the United States, Mark Twain. But it was not until the very end of his career that the author of Huckleberry Finn returned to Bacon's theories. At a dinner at his house in January 1909, Twain's circle decided that it was possible to find the coded signature FRANCISCO BACONO in a sequence of letters from the First Folio.

Those who are devoted to the belief that Edward de Vere is the real author of the canon have to swallow almost as much hocus pocus. Despite his inconveniently early death in 1604 – before Macbeth, King Lear, Coriolanus, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest were written and/or staged – de Vere continues to fascinate the anti-Stratfordians for whom the plays are the surrogate autobiography of a secretive literary earl. This Oxford caucus derives a good deal of its confidence from the advocacy of Sigmund Freud. Possibly more embarrassing to the father of psychoanalysis, Freud's views are based on one book, "Shakespeare" Identified by John Thomas Looney, another American.

This is bibliographic "crack" and you will get lost for a while if you succumb (Link).

From the twitter (@personanondata)

National Post Canada argues halfheartedly for an Open Canadian Book market. Irony: it could help Heather monetize.

Completely Novel announces an author blog award program and nominations are now open for (Link)

Cengage Learning Unveils Suite of Digital Solutions and Services Focused on Improving Student Engagement (Link)

Man U sees the return of Beckham to Old Trafford and we end the week on top again. Sadly, Becks is out of the World Cup (BBC).

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