Eight Days (15 August 2018)

- Robuchon passed away last week. Beyond being the most decorated chef in the history of Michelin, Robuchon was a game changer. Credited with steering France from nouvelle cuisine to cuisine moderne, this was a man who was not shy about progress: he was using sous vide for the French national rail network in the 80s, an advocate of Japanese French fusion and had a steadfast focus on only a few ingredients at a time. While he retired at 50-odd to turn his hand to teaching, he returned to the kitchen with his "revolutionary" Atelier restaurants, among the first open kitchens and one of the first chefs to embrace the “planetary turn”. (The New Yorker have the best article on this.)
This is all a lovely juxtaposition to his insistence on culinary simplicity - he was all about showing off, not masking, individual flavours (whether luxe or basic). The NYTimes said of his pomme purée: “Its novelty lies not in the originality of its conception but in the extravagance of its traditionalism, and the perfection of its details. Classical artists are rare these days, in any field; when one passes, the world’s store of strong form diminishes, and our plates seem pale.”

“These mashed potatoes, it’s true, made my reputation. I owe everything to these mashed potatoes, … Maybe it’s a little bit of nostalgia, Proust’s madeleines. Everyone has in his memory the mashed potatoes of his mother, the mashed potatoes of his grandmother.” - Joël Robuchon 

To go forward, we are also always looking back. I like, no, I love that.

Postcards from Toowoomba:
It’s time! In Eight Days (-ish, but I think we all know 8days is a pretty loose concept around here), I land in Figari. I will have a few weeks of writing there before heading to Sicily and then back to Pantelleria for a month or so. Thank you to all the lovely people who sent me their tips. I particularly loved this article, sent from a dear friend this week, looking at its historic pull of the Med on the Brits. 
To prepare for departure, I’ve spent a couple of weeks with my sis and her beautiful boys south of Toowoomba. It is dry, dry, dry. There are no crops in, very few livestock and a lot of dirt and dust. I have heard incredibly generous stories from farmer to farmer: such as those up north, where it’s not so dry, sending bales down, for free, to those in need - the generosity at the kid’s footy canteen on Saturday (where they had a collection box) was extraordinary.  
Writing the Meat book, AP and I met so many incredible Aussie farmers. We were very keen to ensure the book was a celebration of our farmers and all the work that goes in to producing the best animals: from feed, to breed, to their life and death on the farm. Writing this reminds me that even back in March we were struggling to find parts of Australia to photograph that were not already scorched from the drought.

I learnt so much through those conversations. Did you know that kangaroos can extend their gestation period in times of drought? (Incidentally, I also just read IKEA are going to start serving 'roo meatballs - with their light touch on our old soils, we really should be eating more kangaroo.) 
Which brings me, perhaps not so subtly, to the news that Meat: The Ultimate Companion is now available for pre-purchase. Booktopia offer a discount if you order in advance, if, however, you would like to buy a number of copies – maybe as Christmas gifts for your kitchen team or favourite producers – please let me know as I can help you out with a good rate for multiple copies.