Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

ADVENT is with us, the joyful anticipation of the birth of the Christ child, so what does `cool Britain' do to herald this great occasion? It lights up Oxford Street with inexcusable orange lights to advertise fruit juice. I was so enraged by this ghastly spectacle that I nearly had a fit and went off in it, as a dear charlady we once had used to say. Pray exclude this street from your Christmas expeditions. For happier thoughts we have some good names from the saints during this period, always useful for expectant mothers to ponder on. There was Viviana on 2 December, a dear little Roman martyr, cruelly killed by being tied to a pillar and scourged to death with leadloaded whips; the great St Francis Xavier who converted Goa and parts of Japan; St Barbara, patron saint of gunners, who protects us from lightning and sudden death; dear St Nicholas, the original Father Christmas, Ambrose, Romaric, Leocadia, Eulalia, and Daniel the Stylite who lived on pillars for 33 years - such a peculiar thing to do.

As usual there is a plethora of grand cookbooks on the market for Christmas, some so grand you can hardly lift them, but the one I find the most interesting is a fascinating little paperback from Mudlark Press entitled Cooking in Docklands Past and Present by James Page-Roberts, which at 5.95 is a good stocking or otherwise present. It contains all the old standbys of plain English fare, no nonsense about measures, it is for the `handful of this and that' brigade. Find yourself a good pork butcher and be rewarded with this method of dealing with:

A pig's head

A pig's head or half of one

salt and pepper

butter, vinegar and capers for the brains

flavouring of vegetables, herbs and spices for


flour, egg, breadcrumbs and garlic for the


sharp gravy for the tongue

gherkins, herbs, onions etc., for the brawn

Having selected a pig's head that has been well debristled, get the butcher to divide it for you (keeping the tongue intact) and ask him to remove the eyes. Extract the brain and cover for a short time with boiling salted water. Remove the outer membrane. Cut into slices and fry in butter, to which you have added a little vinegar and a few capers. …

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