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Taster: "a small amount or short experience of something that is intended either to make you understand what it is like or to make you want more of it" Cambridge Dictionary

The Three Vinegar Tasters, depicting Confucius, Buddha, and Laozi over a pot of vinegar, respectively perceiving it as sour, bitter and sweet. Painting by an artist of the Kanō school. Japan, Muromachi period, 16th century.

I pondered on various pictures to illustrate this bits and pieces post and fixed on this because it really demonstrates how everybody perceives everything in life - i.e differently - according to their own tastes, beliefs, biases and history.

Plus, sour, bitter, sweet - just three of the five tastes that we humans recognise - the other two being salty and the elusive umami. I think this post might include aspects of all of those, whether in terms of the actual food in question or the feelings involved..

And yes a taste is also a small amount and these are a few small things that have caught my eye in recent times.

Bill Granger

I feel I cannot let the death of Bill Granger at the dreadfully early age of 54 go by without at least a mention. There are now many Australian celebrity chefs, but I do feel that Bill Granger is the one who made the world sit up and take notice of Australia. From him comes the casual, relaxed, light and easy form of eating out with friends and family that has become a staple of every suburban high street in Australia. It came to represent a sunny way of socialising that was uniquely Australian - until he exported it the world.

And he wasn't even a trained chef, or apprentice cook. His training was in art and design, which is why it wasn't just about the food it was about the style. “You eat with your eyes” was apparently a favourite expression of his.

He introduced the notion of eating breakfast all day - brunch. Ok it wasn't his invention but he certainly took Australia's version of brunch to the world. Smashed avocado, ricotta hotcakes, corn fritters, silky scrambled eggs and the ubiquitous poached egg. delicious. has 9 recipes by Bill Granger that changed the brunch scene forever - and it doesn't even include the avocados.

I only possess one Bill Granger cookbook - his last - Australian Food, which I would highly recommend. I don't really know why this is. I'm sure his books will be flooding the market - what publisher wouldn't seize the opportunity? So I shall look out for them.

Far too young. Perhaps I am so saddened, because of the even sadder news of the early death (50) of the daughter of a friend of mine. A huge tragedy for her because of the earlier deaths of her other daughter and husband. The saddest things, it often seems to me, happen to the best people. Life is so very unfair.

Two from Smitten Kitchen, plus a word on inspiration

To happier, brighter things but still on brunch, with this recipe from Deb Perelman writer of Smitten Kitchen - Rolled spinach omelette. In fact it could even be a Bill Granger recipe. So simple, so healthy and so beautiful to look at. You bake your omelette in a tray and then roll it up, so really it's just a presentation technique - barely a recipe at all. And open to an infinite number of variations too. I found it in her weekly newsletter to which I have subscribed. (for free)

In her introduction she had a few words to say on where she gets her inspiration:

"inspiration hits when I’m not pressed to find it, like when I’m on a bus or in a cab, looking out the window, or traveling"

So true but I would add other odd moments like on my walks, during wakeful moments in bed at night in addition to quotes from here, there and everywhere, television, news items, shopping. And when all else fails I have my expanding range of writer's block tricks. There is always

something to say about food.

Like just sharing a recipe - her newsletter also included these Pimento cheese potato bites - easily constructed winter snacks which are just hollowed out, stuffed and baked small potatoes. Infinitely variable again. Perhaps not so stylish looking, but beautiful in a cosy way, and I'm sure they are yummy.

Deep-fried mince pies

Disgusting is the first reaction to this - and yes - it's British - but I guess it could also be from the footie pies, Bunnings sausages spectrum of Australian food - which is also fundamentally British. Some of those stories about British food are indeed true I fear. But then again I suspect every cuisine has its horrors.

I found this in, of all places,The Australian Financial Review in their The Buzz column - which tends to be about odd things, or arty things. Apparently in England a chip shop owner in Lincolnshire has started this fad. The mince pies are coated in batter and then deep fried. "What on earth possessed them?" says correspondent Silvano Franco. But he decides to give it a go by coating the pies in an egg free batter (50g each of self-raising flour and cornflour, plus a pinch of salt) before deep-frying them in oil. The result?

"The coating is pale and I add a few pinches of icing sugar to make them look more festive, but the texture is where the transformation really occurs. The batter is super-crispy, delivering a satisfying crunch as I take a bite, and the pastry has lost any hint of the powderiness that can be associated with shop-bought mince pies. The filling has altered too, becoming jammier and altogether more delicious"

Who knew? The other picture is of some made from scratch, unbattered but deep-fried and then iced from Liam Charles in The Guardian.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Tetrazzini is an Italian-American dish made with diced poultry or seafood and in a butter, cream or milk and cheese sauce flavored with sherry or white wine, and combined with linguine, spaghetti, egg noodles, or other types of pasta, sometimes topped with breadcrumbs or cheese, and garnished with parsley or basil." Wikipedia

It's hardly a recipe is it? Lots of 'ors' Anything goes really which is fine by me because this is what I am planning for my last turkey leftover dish of the year. Whatever else I have in the way of leftovers will be thrown in too.

It's named after an early 20th century opera singer but nobody really knows who created it. Suffice to say that really it's a dish of leftovers. Whatever you've got. Throw it all in to a dish (cook the pasta and the mix first) and finish in the oven, topped with cheese and breadcrumbs. Eat with a bottle of King's excellent rosé - from our nearest - and excellent - vineyard - just ten minutes away. 95% chardonnay, 5% shiraz:

"Aroma: Light berry fruits, red cherry and a touch of rose petal Palate: A crisp, fruity palate of red berries with some citrus notes"

A fitting toast to Christmas's passing and the coming summer.

Tastes - bitter, sour, sweet, salty and umami. Did I cover them all? Maybe, maybe not.

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