Note: This isn’t really a list of frequently asked questions – no real person has ever asked me any of them, just the voices in my head.
In an attempt to avoid any confusion over whether I’m referring to food or drink, ingredients or dishes, or everything together, I’m going to use ‘item’ as a catch-all term for anything on The List.
How do you decide what goes on The List?
I put anything on that excites me – items I’ve read or been told about or seen on TV that make me think: “That looks awesome; I’d love to try it.”
I spend a lot of time watching cookery programmes and reading food and wine blogs, and new things come up all the time that capture my interest. Anything that makes me dribble goes on there.
That said, there are also quite a few items I feel compelled to try, even if they don’t really whet my appetite. Famous dishes or stuff most other foodies will have tried that don’t immediately appeal to me, but which I’d feel I was missing out on if I didn’t have a go (see Lobster Thermidor).
If I’m unsure on an item, I imagine I’m on my deathbed being asked whether I regret not being able to try it. That’s generally a pretty good dealbreaker.
How do you make sure the item you’re eating is a fair representation of the food/drink/ingredient/dish?
Unfortunately there is no way to guarantee this. It’s very possible that the item I try could be a duff – be it cooked/prepared inadequately, used in an unusual/ineffective way, or just of poor quality.
But I do try my best. If I’ve not purchased an item from a reputable supplier or if I’ve consumed it in a restaurant that isn’t very good, it doesn’t count.
For example, I’ve had Confit de Canard twice at a decent restaurant in Salford. But ‘decent’ isn’t good enough for me to consider it a fair representation, so it stays on The List for now.
If the item is not the main part of a dish, does it still count?
It depends on how big a part of the dish it is. If I had fish with an accompaniment of Cornish early potatoes, that would count. But if it’s only a minor ingredient, say if a few morel mushrooms have been used to add earthiness to a sauce, then it wouldn’t.