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I've been doing it all wrong

I think my very first inspiration, as for many bloggers I suspect, was that film about Julia Child - Julie and Julia - in which Julie cooks her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and creates a blog about it as she goes. I'm sure you have seen it. Meryl Streep doing one of her amazing impersonation turns.

Anyway it inspired me, not so much to writing a blog, but to working my way through Robert Carrier's Great Dishes of the World. I also decided to write it up as I went - by hand. I had a beautiful handmade paper notebook and a beautiful handmade wooden pencil, and so in 2007 I set about my project. Which, as I noted somewhere in there, like all of the projects of my childhood, it went virtually nowhere. I think I tackled about half a dozen recipes over something like ten years! Not very impressive.

The interesting thing though is that it is different from this blog, and all the intermediary blogs/diaries, in between, in that I first cooked a dish, and then wrote about it. With a few, very few, exceptions, this blog does the opposite. When I'm writing about particular dishes that is. I write about the dish, in all sorts of ways, but without necessarily having cooked it - unless it's a dish I cook all the time. I sometimes cook it later. Indeed I often vow to make it but more often than not do not.

If I do make it you probably never get to hear how it went. Did the recipe live up to its promise? Did I stuff it up somehow and if I did what are the lessons learnt? Occasionally I add a postscript, but this is usually well after my few readers have read the post, and they are certainly not likely to go back to it. So a vital part of the story of the dish is missing.

In the course of 'researching' my posts I come across a vast number of blogs from around the world, which has been enhanced by my recent mini series on popular foodie blogs. Virtually all of these blogs are recipe driven. A dish is presented and that's it. This seems to be the format with the popular ones, they just present the recipe - often one of their own, sometimes somebody elses. They are sort of online cookbooks. There might be a few tips and tricks along the way, together with videos and photographs of the process, but basically the dish is just presented. Many of the less popular ones - like mine - are more personal and might give more background - either personal, cultural or historical, but even they have usually cooked the dish and will include thoughts on the making of it as well as photos and/or videos of the process, not to mention just one recipe of course. Which is not to say that there are not specialised sites as well, or rambling ones like mine in which a number of different types of foodie topics are covered.

I guess I like Felicity Cloake so much because she does cover lots of different versions of the dish she is talking about, and does give a bit of background to the whole thing in the process.

Now I have no aim to rival the 'recipe' blogs. That is not my purpose. The website is called Rosemary's Ramblings after all. Because that's what I do. I ramble, meander even. I remember one comment on an English paper I presented once at university. At the bottom of page one, or maybe even two was the following comment: "All very interesting, but you haven't said anything yet." I shall remember that to my dying day. At the time I was somewhat humiliated I think, and the paper certainly didn't get a high mark. I think the highest mark I ever achieved for an individual paper I wrote there was B+. But now I think, well at least he found it interesting. Maybe he was amused. Maybe I should therefore be amused. Which I mostly am these days when I think about it.

But there I go rambling again. Where was I?

To cook or not to cook - yes that's it. Overall I do think I should cook the dishes I choose to write about. Unless they sound completely revolting that is. Or unless they include the ever increasing number of ingredients my husband doesn't like. Or if they sound horrendously difficult. And I should report on them so that my readers - the faithful few - will see the results. So what to do? Do I have the patience to wait until I have cooked a dish before writing about it? I don't think so. You see my topic of the day is often a spur of the moment thing. Like yesterday's Bakewell tart. I saw that photograph, was overwhelmed with nostalgia and wanted to discover all about it there and then. Maybe the best thing to do therefore is to cook it later, and then report on the cooking process in a new post. Your ideas would be welcome here.

And here's another rambling aside with respect to yesterday's post. That urban legend about the origins of Bakewell tart. There are so many dishes with legendary beginnings, that are often disproved by the people who like to research these things. But how do these 'legends' arise? Are they completely made up? Surely not. Surely there must be a tiny grain of truth at the heart of all them, and then a sort of game of Chinese whispers develops until the tiny grain is blown up into a mountain that creates a tourist destination and industry.

Looking at my very brief Robert Carrier project, also made me think that I should return to it. The cooking classes with my grandchildren have made me realise that he, Jamie Oliver, sometimes Elizabeth David, Delia Smith and Beverley Sutherland Smith are the go to sources for things to cook with the little ones. People have this image of Robert Carrier as a fancy cook, a society cook in love with display and fussiness. But in fact he is the complete opposite - most, not all, of his recipes are extremely simple - so simple sometimes you think they are not worth trying - and they are all - well 99.9% of them - delicious. So maybe that's a new mini series I shall embark upon for those days when I don't know what to write about.

Like today. A ramble about nothing. No physical ramble today though. It's going to pour with rain, and at the moment it's a bit warm.


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