Like a Sussex pond pudding sharpened with lemon juice, this is a sweet-and-sour m?nge of a book. Partly, it is a saliva-inducing memoir of the gastronomic high life once enjoyed by the British upper orders. Partly, it is an appalled exploration of the chemical and biological shortcuts devised by the modern food industry. Gina Mallet's father was director of a chain of luxury hotels, so she grew up nibbling oeufs en cocotte, tournedos Rossini and cervelle d'or (golden brain fritters). Now, a Toronto-based food writer, she explores such unpalatable aspects of modern gastronomy as farmed salmon ("the colour is chosen from Salmofan, a colour swatch from the chemical giant Hoffmann-La Roche") and scallops: "often kept moist by sodium tri-polyphosphate - the active ingredient in paint strippers."Though Mallet concentrates on just five foodstuffs - eggs, cheese, beef, vegetables and fish - this two-books-in-one aspect produces a rather disjointed narrative. the peppery watercress - demand good white bread."She'll also make you wary of deeply coloured egg yolks and cherry-red tuna, not to mention the roe of warm-water scallops.
They can induce "paralytic poison shock", which is why Americans won't touch them.. "Pasteurisation is a brutal way to ensure safe milk: it wipes out every benefit." Hurrah! "How good beef dripping was. It could be spread on toast or bread; it tasted of crisped beef." Hurrah! She is also right when she runs against current food fashion: "The great sandwiches - the grandee cucumber... The flow is further disturbed by the inclusion of recipes.Mallet's prose exudes gung-ho energy, but some of her breezy statements may cause the reader to goggle. Bemoaning modern disdain for "the aggressive, earthy flavour" of kidneys, she maintains: "Nowadays, even in England, the ripe old steak and kidney pie has become steak and mushroom pie." A tour of the English heartland would show Mallet that steak and kidney pie is still a favourite on pub menus, though finding the kidney is often like panning for gold.Still, virtually every page contains something that has you cheering.
Her Swan Lake is near-abstract, concerned with dance detail rather than drama Yet this isn't lavish dancing. Her arms wind and pull, working against the curve of her spine. Those elaborately long phrases don't flow. This is a high-handed performance Throughout the ballet, Lopatkina demands changes of tempo. The heroine is an enchanted princess, turned into a swan by a wicked magician; only love can rescue her. Lopatkina's look of angst suggests no vulnerability, and no tenderness. As the Swan Queen, she lifts and thrusts her jaw in an expression of stony martyrdom She looks hellbent on being the Soul of Russia. The virtue of the Kirov Ballet's Swan Lake is its clarity It makes a spacious, traditional frame for a ballerina.