Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jamie's American Roadtrip (2)

This is Jamie Oliver's viejahijue face.

His trademark cockney chirpiness was noticeably absent in the kitchen of Leah Chase, proprietor of New Orleans's famous Dooky Chase restaurant. When the 86-year-old veteran suggested that he might not know how to chop an onion, he went about demonstrating his skills with such unbuttoned release that he was lucky to escape from her kitchen with all ten digits intact.

Blighty's most famous Essex boy was in there to learn how to prepare a gumbo, but when Ms Chase finally served up her preeminant version, he repaid her for the patronising jabs he'd been repeatedly subjected to by damning it with faint praise ("a thick broth...quite meaty.")...and later added that she'd given him the 'cheat's' gumbo, and that he'd have to read up elsewhere to really get a handle on this dish.

Leah Chase had to shut down for two years after Katrina until she'd raised the $500k required to repair her diner. Jamie made a poor job of looking interested as she related the painful recovery process, but did make hurricanes the theme of this fourth episode, declaring that he was on a quest to discover how food could make people want to carry on living in a place subjected to regular natural disasters. "I'd be well out of there..."

Having moved on into the Cajun countryside — where he was invited to deliver the coup-de-grace to an alligator destined for his pan — Jamie reflected that this part of the Union is "intimate, small, special and quaint", not "the machine" with which many people (in Essex?) associate America.

He got to grips with a 'Cajun microwave' and prepared a lomito of pork coated in ground bay leaves and stuffed with spicy Louisiana sausage. (This one doesn't seem to have made it into the recipe book, but the Cajun alligator with sweet potato and salsa did. Well useful.)

The programme was dedicated to the late, great Keith Floyd, inventor of the alcohol-fuelled gastro-odyssey on British screens. The essential difference between Keith and Jamie would seem to be that the latter gets mullered AFTER cooking and is thus more likely to be seen cooking with a hangover, than sploshing wine all over his glass and wok at the same time.

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