"a strip of material, such as paper, cloth, or food, that has been torn, cut, or scraped from something larger." Oxford Languages
I confess I thought shredding was just as described above and illustrated by these shreds of chicken shown here. But no according to Urban Dictionary it means an amazing range of things, some of which are almost polar opposites. Here are some:
having great muscles and abs
being high on some kind of drug
a particular style of playing the guitar
to completely 'nail' something
"Can be used in place of many words ... but mainly describes someone who is way too drunk" Blasman/Urban Dictionary
or, put another way "Means anything you want it to mean, it is purely a contextual word." JapanTrain/Urban Dictionary
"going every-which-way at once" And there are more.
Well who knew? All I can say is that I thought it meant the heading definition and I chose chicken to illustrate it. Shredded chicken. Obviously a bit like "anything you want it to mean" in the sense that you can do virtually anything with some shredded chicken. And how do you shred a chicken? With two forks, or - and this I did not know - you can put it in a bowl and shred with a hand mixer on slow speed. It's probably more trendy these days to call it pulling rather than shredding. Or maybe we shred chicken but pull pork. Aren't words wonderful?
In terms of strips torn, cut or scraped from something larger - well I suppose everything I post is either from the massive web - no it's not infinite - or a larger piece of writing - a book, a magazine, a newspaper ...
Cauliflower is in season and cauliflower cheese is the first thing I think of. Yes, I know I have talked a bit about this of late and featured the Ottolenghi recipe for Cauliflower cheese filo pie, which is wonderful and you really should try, but this week I, somewhat coincidentally came across two similar pies - the first from Nigel Slater which he calls Cauliflower cheese pie and one from Coles of all places who have a Cheesy cauliflower and leek tart or you can just go to delicious.UK where you will find 20 different things to do with cauliflower cheese. Below - Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater and Coles.
Gone are the days, obviously when it was daring to add a bit of mustard to your cheese sauce, or some other kind of vegetable to the mix, or to cook your cauliflower whole.
Also gone, it seems, are the days when l'oeuf mayonnaise or mayonnaise eggs were considered boring and old-fashioned. At least according to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival people who published this photograph and statement back in January:
“Sometimes, in the search for originality, the most obvious dishes are forgotten,” wrote Elizabeth David. She was writing about œuf mayonnaise. But as it turns out, she need not have worried. Or at least not if she was gadding about the bars and restaurants of the state of Victoria right about now. The low-key French classic is on the up around these parts, and it’s finding a hearty reception." Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Newsletter
The above statement and the accompanying photograph of the œuf mayonnaise as served at Heathcote's Chauncy Restaurant were what inspired me to add this to my list of oddments. Mind you I had forgotten in fact where the inspiration came from, which actually gave me the chance to find some things I might not otherwise have found. Well maybe.
Mind you this is a dish that is not going to be appearing any time soon in this household. David cannot stand hard-boiled eggs, for basically this dish consists of a hard-boiled egg cut in half and covered with mayonnaise. Doesn't sound appealing does it? And I have to say he's not alone. Lots of people can't stand hard-boiled eggs. And this particular way of serving hard-boiled eggs is the sort of thing that you would have found on one of those big restaurant or hotel hors d'oeuvre trolleys that used to be everywhere. Tizzed up with various things of course.
Indeed this version is very typical of that kind of thing - topped with black caviar on a very white looking mayonnaise. I'm not sure how you get mayonnaise to be white by the way.
It's a Parisian bistro dish and fiercely guarded by L'Association De Sauvegarde De L’œuf Mayonnaise who run a world championship for the dish every year. I say 'worked' but the three winners that I found were all from Paris I think. Here are two of them:
They have also published a book on the subject with recipes from 49 chefs from around the country. It's in French of course. Actually - and here's an interesting aside - in 2021 during lockdown in Paris, the most popular dish that Deliveroo delivered to French homes was, yes you guessed it, œuf mayonnaise - from the current world champion - a chain of restaurants called Bouillon. And it wasn't very pricey either.
And while we are on food for the common man, one of Adam Liaw's guests on The Cook-Up did a fairly classy looking version called Egg mayonnaise with dressed tomato. (shown below) I don't think it has made it to the supermarket magazines as yet though.
L'Association De Sauvegarde De L’œuf Mayonnaise has a motto “Le temps passe, les œufs durent” - time passes, the eggs endure.
"Dancing in the kitchen"
There's probably not much to say here although at the same time one could write a book. If one was talented that is. Words again.
These words came from one of my favourite Guardian columnists, Rachel Roddy, not necessarily because of her recipes, good though they are, but more because of the essays she writes about life the universe (well Rome in particular) and everything, as an introduction to her recipe of the week - this time Pork and fennel polpette. The recipe is not the point though. The point is being so familiar with a recipe or a process that one does it as if dancing - knowing the steps and yet improvising along the way. She begins by describing watching her sister in her kitchen surrounded by children and family:
"All the movement made Kate seem even calmer as she pulled the leaves from the long stems, pausing every so often to pick up her gin and tonic, which made the ice cubes clink, or to eat a salt-and -vinegar crisp. After chopping the parsley and shoving it into a mountain, she peeled and diced some tomatoes. Steps and movements, good timing; it was almost as is she was doing some sort of dance, a waltz box step in a church hall: slow, quick-quick; 1-2-3, 1-2-3."
All inspired apparently by a book called Small Fires by Rebecca May Johnson in which she:
"describes making the same recipe many times, moves repeated like a dance"
It's a lovely metaphor. I used to love to dance - from a tiny child who tap danced to a young adult who jived and did the twist, and the occasional slow and close shuffle around the dance floor, as the evening ended. And I love to cook and yes there are similarities when cooking something you know really well. You sort of go with the flow, not quite eyes closed, but sort of on automatic. A feeling that takes over your mind and your body. Almost trancelike. But you don't have to be a good dancer to be a good cook aka kitchen dancer:
"It is clear now – whether or not we are natural born dancers – why kitchen dancing can come so easily. Having made a sauce, shaped polpette or taken the steps required to make a cheese-and-pickle sandwich, we are halfway there and well warmed up long before pressing “play”." Rachel Roddy