A little of what you fancy
EAT IN:I ALWAYS THINK that a hunk of protein, fried and possibly stuffed, is the way to a man’s heart; it’s so death row. Breaded veal cutlets or pork, crispy fried chicken or chicken Kiev. These are the kind of things absolutely guaranteed to give us satisfaction because of their texture, protein, salt, fat and savoury deliciousness.
A little like junk food, we’re hard wired to want it. I do understand the allure of such food, but if faced with an either/or scenario, there’s so much other “bad” food (see recipes below) that I would prefer to treat myself to rather than a triple decker-sized can of soft drink, or other heavily processed foods. Eating good food as much as possible – and enjoying the occasional bit of badness, in moderation – is what most experts agree is fine, along with taking some exercise. In small quantities, salt, sugar and fat are alright. It’s when you overload your system, constantly, that your body cannot cope with them.
I feel strongly that being virtuous with your diet all the time is limiting yourself to a life without one of the greatest pleasures we humans can enjoy. If I had to give up everything but one vice or passion, and the list was books, cinema, music and good food, I am afraid all else would have to go except good food. If I was offered just enough calories to survive, but nothing nice to eat, I wouldn’t enjoy it much.
These sort of end-of-the-world thoughts were further prodded along the paths in my head when I saw Conor Horgan’s really great film, One Hundred Mornings. A tale of a post-apocalyptic Ireland and the lives of two couples living and learning to survive in the aftermath. Food, or rather, the lack of it, itinevitably becomes a central theme. I couldn’t help but start to wonder what I would do in similar circumstances. How would I survive? What would be in my hidden stash of food? In the film, some of the best scenes were around the kitchen table, at mealtimes. It was fantastic.
A far cry from the book The Dinner, by Herman Koch (see Domini recommends, right). This is a great read that centres on a dinner in a fine dining restaurant, with two couples, where life and death issues come to the fore because of the actions of their troubled children. It’s gripping stuff and the observations by the lead character about the sometimes infuriating ceremony of fine dining and the intricacies of each course are a great contrast to Conor Horgan’s stark film, where food is also central, but very scarce.
This veal dish would have been welcome in either film or book: it is extremely tasty and please feel free to change cheeses if you don’t like blue cheese. Tallegio is a great creamy Italian cheese, but something thin and sharp would also work, as would some sort of stronger Swiss-style cheese. Coolea and Glebe Brethan would both work too, as woud mild Wicklow brie.
The pears are a nice change from red wine or port-stained ones. After eating them, I felt they’d actually be lovely served with a slice of cheese as a sort of hybrid dessert. But if you’re serving them with the veal, then give yet more cheese a miss.
Veal steaks with Parma ham and blue cheese
2 x 200g veal steaks
2-4 slices Parma ham
50-80g blue cheese
2 eggs, beaten
Sunflower or rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
To serve:mixed leaves, red onion, a spoonful of capers and lemon juice