Making A Meal Of It


The most pretentious email I’ve received from a PR hack this week comes from ‘Not a Pop-Up; A Dining Experience’, who writes in beyond-parody staccato sentences about a Milanese chef;

‘Her passion. Her creativity. Her genius. Her menus. Her evolution of Mediterranean cuisine and pastry have earned her a deserved place in the pantheon of Michelin star chefs. A status she is modest to claim as her own personal victory. Viviana may be the artist, but she is the first to salute all those who supply her with the raw materials she uses. The fish. The meat. The pasta. The dairy products that make her dishes some of the most unique you can find in Italy today. Viviana has seen it all. Learned it all. Studied it all. About time London got to savour a taste of her brilliance, don’t you think?’

No, I don’t think. Here’s the accompanying shot of the meal, the epitome of trying too hard. It looks like something you’d have found in a doomed European concept restaurant five or six years ago. But of course this is cuisine beloved by a certain breed of shrieking London PR woman, the Ladies Who Lunch But Don’t Actually Like Food. It might have been better if the hack had disarmed my preconceptions by writing; ‘It tastes better than it looks.’

17 comments on “Making A Meal Of It”

  1. Matt Brown says:

    Looks like a concept model for the tribal village in Avatar.

  2. sparro says:

    I have seen. I have trodden within. I have experienced similar confections. Yes, and so could you, believe it! I am no artist, I salute the artist! I am a venturer. I walk. I walked my shoe-shod feet into a similar post-gastronomic experience. Created by others who previously passed by this way. I was not the artist, or artists. They were unknown to me.They supplied the raw materials. The burger. The chips. The wrapper. The salt. The skin of half-eaten fruit. The sauce. The dog-ends. The Smarties, What a rare touch of genius! I had not seen it all. Thatis why I trod in it all. Served up in a gutter. Proximity to a drain. Drizzled with rain. A unique experience. Each one different to the next.
    You might find similar in Soho’s street-edges, but you will not find this one ever again.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    Looks a bit like a stage Frenchman regarding a model in “buff total” parading on the Cannes beach to promote a “nouveau” pocket, unfortunately while dripping Pick Panter tanning oil.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    Should have read “pocketbook, unfortunately while dripping Pink Panther tanning oil.” I shall not hit “Leave a Reply” too fast. He slinks away tail between legs.

  5. snowy says:

    Good grief, that reminds me of a hugely and I mean massively pretentious restaurant/bar near Hamleys with egg shaped toilets. They wouldn’t let us use the front door despite there being no customers around. And we had to carry all our slightly grubby equipment through the food prep and kitchen areas. I clocked the quality of the seafood and vegetables which I’m sure were both fresh and seasonal (before they were frozen in a food plant somewhere up north) and tittered slightly.
    It was only on leaving, I caught sight of the menu, £5 for a digestive biscuit, topped with a blob of cream and a sprig of 4 elderberries. I laughed so hard in nearly spilt my kebab.

  6. BangBang!! says:

    It looks like someone eviscerated Hello Kitty.

  7. Amy says:

    @sparro, you really made me laugh. 🙂

  8. Gretta says:

    You guys crack me up.

    I’m not sure what it looks like, to be honest, but I sure as H*** know I don’t want to eat it.

  9. snowy says:

    I’ve come back to this because I’m still trying to work out what the components of that dish are meant to be. Particularly the black leathery thing in the top LH corner. It looks like Fred Dibnah’s hat.

    (For those too young to know who Fred Dibnah was, try searching for “Fred Dibnah chimney overhang”.)

  10. Helen Martin says:

    It’s the ‘plate’ on which this ‘meal’ is plated that fascinates me. I assume it is a square of slate, but was it bought from a builder’s yard as damaged? I suppose they would go into the dish washer alright because if they didn’t a human dishwasher would probably end up with sore arms. This sort of food is for people who are not hungry.

  11. Gretta says:

    I initially thought skinny paving stone, but a roof slate makes more sense. I think I see a sliver of salmon. And that thing on top’s not a black truffle, is it?

    Admin, I really do think that, in the interest of your readers and for general research purposes, you need to go to this place and report back to us.

  12. sparro says:

    It looks to me like it is aimed at delighting children. Perhaps, in a sense, it is; older ones, for whom playing with food is somewhat more important than eating it.
    Either way, I was convinced at first glance that it involved chocolate sauce and smarties. The foodies, to whom I assume this confection is aimed, would not give it credit if it achieved a full-page spread in (say) a book of frivolous kiddie’s party food by Jane Asher; yet get some hack to slaver ridiculous verbage all over it in a pretentious drizzly ‘nouvelle’ style and its perfectly acceptable. How the other half live, eh?
    Anyway, I’d rather have sausages and mash, thanks all the same….

  13. Dan Terrell says:

    Picture double-parking the car and rushing in to pick up a full-meal take out/take away order for a large family. Flintstones? Fun meals for kids from the stone age?

  14. snowy says:

    I’ve found a bigger version of the picture, and I think its either a dark chesnut mushroom or a black shitake. Its not the right shape foe a truffle, I think. If it was a truffle that big it would probably cost more than the £75 they are charging. How do I know the price, have I been there? Nay, nay and thrice nay, I did find part of the menu though. Reproduced below exactly as printed with their own punctuation and capitalisation, (in case you think I’m SHOUTING.)

    tasting round the clock tonight
    Zucchini flower, ricotta, tomato water

    raising a royal squid on a potato throne
    Octopus, duet of potatoes

    honouring a noble duck on a culinary canvas
    duck breast, foie gras, rasberry

    The last wouldn’t cover a slice of toast, but it does come on a real plate, if you can tolerate the fact that the sauce has artfully smeared across with a builders paintbrush.

    Going back to the bigger version of orginal picture, I can now see that the little pixies tent on the right are a few onion peelings.

    But what worries me most is the pink spooge, that looks wrong.

  15. Helen Martin says:

    When I enlarged the picture I realized that there is mossy looking stuff on the bottom of the ‘plate’, so definitely from builder’s yard rejects or found on abandoned demolition site.

  16. Gretta says:

    Oh Lord. That menu, snowy. It’s like 5th Form poetry gone horribly, horribly wrong.

    Pink spooge looks like blancmange, and the more I look at that truffle/mushroom, the more I think it looks like Alien.

  17. snowy says:

    Oh snowy you twit, … has been artfully smeared…

    Well the spooge is exactly the same colour as the pink custard served in primary school. But it seems to be too frightened to spread out over that “plate”. It just sort of sits there huddled up trying not to touch any more the surface than it already has.

    As for the squid thing, if somebody served me an angry looking baby octopus, perched malevolently atop a small potato plinth, I’m not sure if I’d laugh, or run screaming from the room. Much to “Lovecraftian” for me.

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