Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When Boys Meet Grills

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When Boys Meet Grills

Article excerpt


Full on Food BBC2

HOW I miss my dear old pal, the restaurateur Peter Langan, and his heady talk of matters gastronomic. The last time we met, we discussed how we'd both been utterly mystified as children to hear Spanish flamenco dancers shouting "with milk!" as they clicked their heels, and had both spent years wondering what the Terpsichorean significance of "au lait" might be.

He was a man who intentionally and mischievously inserted misprints such as "steamed crap" into the brasserie menu, and once told two elderly nuns between the pudding and cheese course that they should engage in strenuous sexual intercourse (they politely declined his offer, but weren't in the least offended).

And he used to praise the skill of his "genius tailor", who cunningly cut his suits so that the vast Langan paunch wouldn't show. Which indeed it didn't, the only problem being that his trouser belt was relocated a little higher with each passing year, and by the time I got to know him, was situated barely three inches below his shoulders.

After he'd set himself alight in 1988, I sent a telegram to his hospital ward, advising him in future to restrict his flambees to the restaurant; but although I know he'd have seen the funny side if he'd read it, he took the precaution of slipping into a coma instead, then died, so a perfectly good joke remained unappreciated.

However, self-immolation among British cooks is nothing unusual, as anyone who works on an A&E ward will tell you, because every night is Burns night during the summer barbie season, so full credit to Full on Food for showing us how to cook properly with hot coals.

This terrestrial version of UK Food's excellent Great Food Live programme has mastered the difficult trick of being entertaining about gastronomy without showing disrespect to the food, and last night it took a seriously fascinating look at authentic barbecuing, as perfected in the Deep South of the USA.

Which is a world away from the sad, suburban-garden, charcoal-grill affairs one encounters over here, hosted by amateurs who think that food will automatically taste better simply because it's cooked outdoors, and who treat their guests like gods, by plying them with burnt offerings.

Chief presenter (and restaurant critic) Richard Johnson had been to Memphis, where contestants in the annual World Barbecue Championship know how to obtain maximum flavour by smoking meat very slowly over gently burning coals (Americans only grill meat in Iraq).

They literally go the whole hog in Memphis, marinating entire pigs before cooking them in smoke pits for up to 24 hours, and one competitor was even seen throwing in the towel, but only so his pork carcass could retain even more of its juices, thus ensuring that the finished result was cooked through, yet still moist and succulent. …

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