Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Hungry for reading.

When I was a child entertainment wasn't what it was today so I and my six siblings spent time reading. Boring, huh?

Imagine life without DVDs, personal computers, MP3s, gameboys, childrens' mini karaokes that plug right into their parents' widescreen home theatre system (with FULL volume - perfect for next time they have a dozen six-year-olds for a sleepover!), laptops, cellphones with text so they need NEVER be out of touch with their scores of friends and televisions in the back seats of their parents' SUV.

My god, it makes my childhood sound like the Dark Ages - I'm surprised I actually survived and made it into adulthood. Maybe I didn't. Maybe I'm in permanent arrested development, a victim of technology-deprivation syndrome as a child.

So when we weren't outside pointlessly climbing trees, making billycarts, investigating frogs in the local stream or riding low-tech bicycles aimlessly around the neighbourhood, we would read anything we could get our hands on, taking turns with all the books.

(Yes, I am aware that children have never really stopped reading - against all odds, given the above distractions - and yes I have heard of Harry Potter.)

Enid Blyton's adventure books were one reading stage we went through and they were always packed with food and dogs - the children in the books would be sitting down to some gargantuan meal or unpacking a massive picnic at least every dozen pages, the dog joining in as well, of course.

One particular volume had the children staying at an isolated guesthouse on the bleak Welsh coast, where the old owner Mrs Jones was forever praising the standard of the cooking. 'The finest food in all the world ... come in and try it ... come and smell what's baking now ... very good cooking, oh yes! Very good cooking! You shall have the best of food ... breakfasts ... and picnics ... and suppers!'

The expression caught on with us and 'Very Good Cooking' became a default phrase for yummy food.

'Supper was ready for them. It began with chicken soup, went on to a fine joint of beef with mounds of roasted potatoes, garden peas and the finest runner beans, and finished with an ice-cream pudding set round with dainty biscuits of all kinds ...

'Breakfast was as good as supper had been. Cold ham, boiled eggs, hot toast, home-made marmalade, creamy butter and scalding hot coffee ...'

Very good cooking indeed. I've never forgotten the expression. Hence the URL - nothing to do with my cooking, it's all about cooking in children's fiction!

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