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Write It 2017: 15-18s: Highly Commended: The Perfect Food Partnership

Write It 2017: 15-18s: Highly Commended: The Perfect Food Partnership Tommy Moore (19/06/2017)

I have never been a fan of eating alone, although I feel I should be.  I always want to discuss tastes and textures, sauces and glazes, put something on a fork and feed it to whoever is opposite me.  That is a partnership in itself, the convivial way of whiling away a few hours poring over a menu, or nibbling from someone else’s plate.

I have even reconsidered my favourable opinion of friends who don’t want to taste what I am eating, or don’t allow me to sample what is on their plate.  I take it as a personal slight.  If a chef, or my mother, or indeed if I have cooked a meal, I want to make sure that the food in question is appreciated in the way it was meant to be.  No grabbing a bit of steak on a fork for me from the fridge, there has to be a piece of caramelised shallot on there, and half a triple fried chip dipped in the jus from the cooking.

Eating is about so much more than just filling yourself up, so once you have the ideal forkful and the ideal eating companion, preferably someone who loves food as much as you do, or hates food and is an amusing teller of anecdotes so that you get to eat theirs and split the bill, you have the perfect combination.

So, a partnership between you and your dining companion, and you and your food are all non-negotiable  but when it comes to combining foods for the perfect taste pairing I panic at the very thought of narrowing that down.

On a student budget, food spending does not always equal satisfaction.  I stopped at a service station on the way back from Oxford after an interview last week, and my mum popped in to get snacks.  She came back with small containers of sliced apple which were packaged next to a portion of peanut butter.  I was sceptical, but she doesn’t get it wrong often, and we sat in the carpark and I dipped.  Delicious.  Surprises like that for me, someone who has never enjoyed the texture or even the idea of nuts as a butter but suddenly found a new taste sensation are one of life’s great pleasures.  My mouth is watering just thinking about the combination of salt and sweet.

A fat bun from Dirty Burger and pickles, a slice of ham wrapped around a piece of satsuma, sourdough bread and a piece of Conte or the perfect bacon sandwich, all of these have at different times been passions of mine.  Secret pleasures have included Fruit Loops and cold milk at eleven at night, chicken korma and coconut rice, a Bounty bar and a glass of Fanta tropic, I could go on.

Funnily enough though, the taste combination which has stuck in my mind most clearly, the one which makes me wake up wishing I could be transported back in time to a school I didn’t enjoy one bit, just so that I could taste it again, is the ubiquitous South African bunny chow.

If you are unaware of this delight allow me to enlighten you.  Take a loaf of bread with a square shapeS, cut off the top crust and pull out the middle.  Fill the resulting bready space with mutton and potato curry infused with Durban spices, and replace the doughy portion balanced on top to act as part lid, part gravy soaking device.  Sit down on a step in your uniform in the sun, avoiding persistent monkeys, and eat it with your fingers.  It is a textured, tasty, filling treat which is for me impossible to replicate without the safari suit, avocado trees and elephant grass which all make up part of the memory.  I can taste it now, if I close my eyes.

Perfect food partnerships, they don’t have to be conventional, or classic, or even make sense anywhere except in your mouth.  Baked beans on Mother’s Pride white bread is almost a culinary sin, and yet on a Sunday evening when the planets align, it can be the answer to your prayers.  Ultimately the perfect food partnership is personal where your tastebuds and your perfect ingredients come together in an explosion of oral happiness.  All I have in the fridge currently due to a slight cash flow situation is an egg and a bottle of chilli sauce, perhaps they will be the greatest combination yet! 


Author: Tommy Moore Email:

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