“For fast days the sideboard should be furnished with..tuna belly..smoked herring..caviar.. and salmon with royal marinade, served cold with muscatel raisins over them, big cold pies or sea fish and other large fish done in jelly..” (The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi). The list goes on to suggest strawberries, fresh little almonds, artichokes, plums and mulberries. The 16th Century Italians obviously had a much better time fasting than we do.
“Before I liked sleeping and smoking. Now I like making focaccia” Charlotte, teenage Root Camper
We’ve all heard of ‘farm to fork’ eating but at Root Camp, a hands-on cookery course for 15-21 year olds, this is what the students really do. The idea was created by Cassia Kidron when she realised her teenage son and most of his friends, who would soon be leaving home, didn’t know how to cook.
But rather than just teaching teenagers how to feed themselves, Root Camp courses inspire the students to see the wider importance of food.
Over the past few years, Spain has been having a restaurant revolution. Its worldwide reputation is now for award winning, avant-garde cooking from places like El Cellar Can Rocca, Arzak and Mugaritz. I’m not one to slavishly follow restaurant trends, but if I’d been in Girona or San Sebastian for the last bank holiday weekend, I’m sure I would have tried to get a table.
Instead, our destination was Madrid. Smart, sophisticated and far more beautiful than I had imagined with one of the greatest art collections in the world and some of the best old-fashioned restaurants. When our Madrillenos friends weren’t entertaining us, we took their recommendations for places to go and eat, but these were old Madrid, not the pioneering new places.