The latest Stylist magazine has an article on their top 20 culinary heroines…not heroes…so this is about ladies all the way! The blurb says: “From bloggers and TV presenters to food writers and Michelin-starred chefs, these are the women who command respect in the kitchen and beyond, providing us with an endless source of gourmet inspiration.” They have included the “food philosophy” for each of their heroines – as well as a summary of why they’re so brilliant. Hmm I’m not convinced by some of their choices. Who would you choose and how far back would you go? It’s an eclectic list – the likes of Sophie Dahl nestle side by side with Delia Smith, Skye Gyngell and Mary Berry. Suprisingly they have allowed their readers to ‘rate’ each food heroine. Sophie averages a mere 2.4 as opposed to Mary Berry’s impressive 4.8 out of 5. No suprises there then.
Someone who I consider a ‘real’ cook, Angela Hartnett, averages 5 out of 5. Her no brainer attitude towards food belies a real flair for simple well cooked dishes. Her philosophy is not rocket science - ”Simple seasonal food, take the best ingredients that are in season and do very little too them.” I like her no nonsense approach to food.
It got me thinking – who would I include in my top 20 food heroines? I would have to go back to the Victorian era and kick off with Mrs Beaton. Not only was she a food writing pioneer, but the story of her private life would make your hair curl. Elizabeth David was another foodie pioneer – her passion for all things Mediterranean revolutionised the way we eat today. And like Mrs Beaton her private life would also make your hair curl! If it were not for her we would still be using olive oil for medicinal purposes rather than culinary ones! I’ve always loved Sophie Grigson, Mary Berry and Delia Smith – all delightfully different, but quintessentially English. Whilst in my twenties I was introduced to vegetarian food through the likes of Rose Elliot and Sarah Brown, all that brown rice must have done me some good.
Nowadays we have become blaise about chefs, cooks and food writers. We are not easily impressed, shocked or suprised by what we see and read any more. We have had the naked chef, the galloping gourmet, and the pickled Keith Floyd. But what of the ladies? Nigella has smoldered and pouted her way into our hearts – if only I had that fabulous larder of hers and a kitchen the size of our entire house! The divine Delia who as well as needing a twefth man occasionally on the football pitch has become a national treasure, and saved my bacon at Christmastime more times than I care to remember! The serene Mary Berry,who just gets better and better. It was an inspired choice to include her on the Great British Bake Off. Who else but Mary could administer tea and sympathy, wit and culinary wisdom to our next generation of bakers?
The newbies aka Lorraine Pascale, Rachel Khoo and Sophie Dahl (does she really count?) have alot to live up to but seem to be holding their own. I’m sure there is a whole department at the BBC dedicated to sourcing chic young bakers, chefs and food writers to fill our prime time TV slots this coming winter. I enjoyed a series that was aired last winter about a group of parishioners and their lady vicar learning how to make bread…this I think might be the future of TV food programmes - real people, creating sustainable, locally grown and sourced food. A kind of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall approach to documentaries but NOT about celebrities.
To see the complete Stylist ist follow the link below: