I watch the great British menu every year its always a highlight of my year, the imaginative cooking and wonderful props get better each year. This year children’s literature was celebrated it was a worthy cause and the theme lent itself to some expectational cooking! All the dishes produced for the banquet were based on children’s books, many classics were used such as The Railway Children, the Secret Garden, Willy Wonka, Wind in the Willows and of course modern classics like Harry Potter.
When I think about childhood memories, I do think of certain foods and books and in many ways, these are linked together. Food is expressed in children’s literature often in a special way: An English tea or Birthday party, a picnic, learning to bake, Easter egg hunting, Christmas dinner, a trip out to the sweetshop or to buy ice cream. As a child, I remember going to the sweet shop once a week with my pocket money and sitting in the park with my Grandmother with peas still in their pods in a brown paper bag, I still love popping peas. I often think of these times with much fondness.
Reading is one of greatest pleasure, I have been an avid reader since childhood and believe all children should be encouraged to read from an early age, as it sparks their imagination. So, it’s great to see a TV show promoting something so worthwhile and often over-looked.
The banquet was held for writers, teachers and children, many of whom are book critics or writers themselves. The meal started with a Harry Potter mini bouche complete with a Hogwarts train, followed by a Narnia inspired starter displayed in a wardrobe, then, a fish dish, inspired by Phillip Pullmans Witches of the Northern Light complete with cauldron, potions and spell books, the main dish was Mr MacGregors garden, from Beatrix Potter, with regional food from the Yorkshire Dales and vegetables buried in plant pots in edible soil, a pre-dessert of Lime Green Granita so vibrant it looked radioactive followed by an edible book of rice paper, my favourite dessert of the season. I loved eating rice paper as a child as it often decorated the top of fairy cakes.
This is still available on BBC player and the whole series is worth seeing as it is really inspirational, imaginative and great fun.
In the UK we have so many talented young chefs who have elevated cooking to an art form. I can’t wait to see how next years Great British Menu can trump this one!