Hands up all of you who know what harissa is. Well, that’s all of you, obviously. Keep your hands up if you’ve used it. Yep, most of you, as I suspected. And finally, keep the hands up if you know what the word means. Ha ha! And it’s such a simple word too – هرس…

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Well this whole article came to life because of a quip about fish and the aftermath. And if you are a food writer of a certain age who is a fan of the Marx Brothers, it would be negligent not to include the greatest of all fish jokes, from the pen of genius of S…

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Chef Watch Featuring Galton Blackiston, Michelin Starred Chef of Morston Hall in Norfolk How long have you been a chef? I’ve been a Chef since 17 and I’m now 58. Do the maths it’s embarrassing. Why did you become a chef? Because I’m not academic and I liked cooking at home. I actually wanted to…

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Want to improve your food writing? Sign up, as I did, for an online class with the guv’nor himself, Jay Rayner. There is no such thing as food writing, he declares. Well, that’s me telt. He is, of course, quite correct. There is writing on the subject of food. The best proponents of the art…

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Neither of my grandmothers could have been described as exotic. So let’s think of some exotica which we do have today but didn’t have in our culinary lives 30 or 40 years ago. Turmeric root, galangal, cardamom. All of them closely related to today’s hero. Yet we don’t think of ginger as at all out…

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Some hae meat and canna eat And some wad eat that want it But we hae meat and we can eat Sae let the Lord be thankit Let me ‘fess up immediately. Despite the Selkirk Grace above, the first part of today’s column has precious little to do with food. It is, however, a follow…

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Farms are traditionally handed down through the generations, so what is unusual to learn that Branxholm Braes, just outside Hawick, is now being run by a third generation of the Murray family? Well, a couple of things. The first is the obvious one, farmers still being predominantly male. More on that later. But if, fifteen…

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CHEF WATCH Featuring Stuart Smith, Chef Owner of Fin & Grape, Edinburgh How long have you been a chef? I’ve been a chef for about 11 years now. Why did you become a chef? It really wasn’t planned at all. After spending some time at university initially studying law I eventually graduated with a degree…

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Flamber? It’s what pyromaniacs do. Except, in Glasgow High Court they call it arson. But to flamber is simply the French term for setting on fire. With insouciant French style the Larousse Gastronomique explains that this is done both to enhance flavour and to demonstrate culinary showmanship. Well forget the former. You can enhance flavour…

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​HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOM’S FOOD!   Sarah Mellersh Bill Kerr AP Stephen Jardine L Johnston, Edinburgh Nigel Eastmond Craig Millar Vikki Wood Willie McCurrach Fred Berkmiller It astonishes me to realise that a year has passed since the new Tom’s Food! website first saw the light of day. And depressing to think that it was launched…

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SCOFF A History of Food and Class in Britain Pen Vogler Atlantic Books                            pp 470                                             £20 When I first heard about…

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CHEF WATCH Featuring Neil Forbes, Chef Director of Cafe St Honoré, Edinburgh How long have you been a chef? I have been a chef for roughly 35 years but if you included time at my parents’ and grandmother’s side cooking then I guess I have always been a cook. I recall the soup pot early…

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Hmm, I wonder what the E might possibly stand for in a food alphabet? For those who follow me on Twitter, I often have a teaser quiz a day or two before. Not this week. I did think about being really sneaky and featuring eel or éclair or endive, but you would probably have taken…

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There are of course many ways in which you can improve your culinary skills. Six months at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School will help. Or follow the lead of that lady in Julie and Julia, who set out to make every single dish in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But let’s assume you lack the…

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Daniel, Norman and Alison Milne On a gloriously sunny November day I am on Demperston Farm, just outside Auchtermuchty in the Kingdom of Fife. The view is idyllic, looking south over the Lomond Hills. Alison Milne, however, is in reflective mode. As a society, we have never been more disconnected from our food and how…

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I wish back for just one normal evening. I was loved and I was never hungry, and for a small girl from Currock, that was as good as things get. We all know now that the small girl from Currock went on to do many more things. But until I read this, her autobiography, all I…

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CHEF WATCH Featuring Fred Berkmiller, Chef Patron of L’escargot bleu, Broughton Street, Edinburgh How long have you been a chef? I started my apprenticeship at the age of 14, and took my first head chef job was when I was 23. Why did you become a chef? I didn’t really choose to, rather I was…

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    Long Island Duck I started this article looking to escape from the misery of a dreich and wet Sunday. Some hours on, with the brain nipping, I’m really wishing I hadn’t. The source of my perplexity (at this stage I neither know nor care whether that is a real word) will become clear…

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We’ve all seen that fridge magnet. It was quite amusing the first time. (No, I don’t have one. Mine is the equally classic Life’s too short to drink bad wine, of which more later.) But for the inexperienced cook, keeping wine out of the pan and pouring it into the gob can sometimes be the…

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CHEF WATCH Scottish Chef of the Year Featuring Bill Kerr, two time winner, Scottish Chef of the Year, producer of some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life. Why did you become a chef? At high school when I was 12, the Scottish Electricity Board advertised a cooking competition. I came…

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Most of us will have eaten in a restaurant which has only just opened its doors. We will take in the decor, probably smile a little at the inexperience of the waiting staff, then get stuck in to the menu and wine list. How many of us give any thought at all to the process…

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Last month I spent a pleasant Sunday at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School. It occurred to me that although I have been on a fair few such courses over the past twenty odd years, and on several continents, I don’t recall reading many column inches on them. So here are some thoughts. Michelin Starred…

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