The food slut and the semifreddo…

Last Friday, the ever-indulgent Mr F drove me all the way across to East London to go to the International Tattoo Convention at Tobacco Dock. I wanted to go shopping for a tattooist…but more about that in another post, sometime soon. What I’m going to write about today—the food slut and the semifreddo—was inspired by the unbelievably delicious dinner we enjoyed totally by chance afterwards.

When we’d (for that, read ‘I’d’) had our/my fill of watching brawny male chests and pert female bottoms being indelibly etched upon, Mr F asked me where I wanted to eat.

I shrugged. “Not my manor.” (For American readers, that’s very London. It means, this isn’t my part of town—I wouldn’t have a clue.)

It isn’t Mr F’s manor either. But given that Mr F could swap his job for the life of a London cabby at the drop of hat, he naturally had the glimmer of a plan. Ten minutes in the car and we parked up in front of a non-descript office building, just off Brick Lane.

“Here we are,” he said. “Let’s try this.”

Where were we? At a tiny, trendy restaurant masquerading as the works canteen of an uber-cool 70s-styled serviced office. I’m always game for Mr F’s discoveries and within minutes the towheaded maitre d was giving me an impromptu wine tasting of his recommendations from the list.

Quite unexpectedly, this was one of those meals that lodge themselves, like pearls in an oyster shell, deep within the chambers of my memory. There are only a handful, meals so special that though they’re often revisited in my mind, they could never be recreated. Meals, or more specifically, dishes that have resulted in the elusive food-gasm! A few mouthfuls so sublime that you *practically* come.

figsFood is always, for me, at least a sensual, and often something of a sexual experience. And meals that aren’t in any way satisfying leave me in a fury for the rest of the day. But very occasionally, I’ll come across something that will make me feel, for real, the way Meg Ryan acts in that famous scene in When Harry Met Sally. When one of my early boyfriends offered me the soubriquet ‘food slut’, I thought it was the finest compliment ever. Certainly a part of the glue that binds Mr F and I together is our mutual gluttony. I would love to say gourmandism, but who would I be fooling?

So what was the dish that afforded such unexpected pleasure on Friday night?

We started promisingly with a locally cured fennel salami with tiny, saltily-intense cornichons. Fennel salami is a particular favourite of mine, and this one didn’t disappoint. And, yes, it really was local – cured at Angel, just a few miles from where we were at Brick Lane. Main course: sardines, grey mullet and a heritage tomato salad—totally fresh and utterly morish. Then, finally, the plat de resistance that sparked the food-gasm.

Caramel semifreddo, crumble, black current.

I know. It doesn’t actually sound right on paper does it? I only chose it as I didn’t want the other more cakey offerings. But OH. MY. GOD.

First, the sweet, milky, toffee-flavoured semifreddo, melting unctuously on my tongue. With no expectation, I was shocked at how good it tasted.

“Try this, try this.” I waved an urgent spoon at Mr F.

“Oh, my god!”

Then the semifreddo with some of the deep, dark black current coulis. SWEET JESUS. So sharp and intense against the creamy caramel. Oh, oh, oh!

“No, this.” Another spoonful to Mr F.

(Expletive deleted.)

And the little pile of crumble on the side? What could it possibly add? Everything, as it happened. It was crunchy and it was salty. It was fucking salty! Full food-gasm alert. I feel short of breath just writing about it.

A few small mouthfuls of pure heaven that I know I’ll never forget.

Creamy. Crunchy. Sharp. Salty. Combining to form culinary perfection.

When I’d finished, the maitre d stopped by the table and asked how I’d found it.

“It was amazing!”

He smiled, said nothing, and gave me a knowing look. He knew how good it was.

Here are some other food-gasms that have never left me—or more accurately, have left me gasping:

  • A sublimely slimy bowl of porcini tagliatelle in an unassuming restaurant in Orvieto.
  • A smoked haddock chowder in which a poached egg lay submerged like buried treasure, courtesy of the Pollen Street Social.
  • An eight-course tasting menu in a Paris destination restaurant that ended with the world’s best (and I don’t say that lightly) rum baba.
  • Dreamy iles flottantes in a bistro in a small town in rural France.
  • And, for the love of God, I’ve had two food-gasm experiences in the same restaurant on different occasions—which makes it something epic. An authentic ma-and-pa Italian in Twickenham, where I’ve been served a whole grilled squid with garlic and chilli that was to die for, and a bowl of truffle pasta after which I could have quite happily expired with no regrets. The maitre was extraordinarily generous with the truffle, grating it at the table as we watched it rain down like confetti onto the steaming fettucine. Sigh…

But these gastronomic quakes are few and far between. Not many dishes lodge permanently in your memory and make your mouth water and you stomach flip just at the thought of them. The list above was gathered over the course of decades rather than years.

And then there are other meals that I remember for the company or the location, or for some other reason. A birthday dinner eaten with gold chopsticks overlooking Hong Kong Harbour. Lunch up the Eiffel Tower. The dinner in Innsbruck at which Mr F planned to propose but failed because of the proximity (measured in inches rather than feet) of an enthusiastic zither player who seemed only to know “The Harry Lime Theme” from The Third Man. (The proposal was postponed for 24 hours and I was none the wiser!) Supper on a rooftop in Marrakesh, under a velvety black African sky in which stars were scattered diamonds. I remember the details of these occasions vividly but the food not at all. And then the lunch at which a married lover told me his wife had found out. The only meal ever ordered but the food left completely untouched.

45463934_sAs I said earlier, food has always had a sexual component for me—from the orgasmic thrill of eating chocolate Angel Delight before I even knew what an orgasm was—to these, thankfully, more fulfilling and sophisticated experiences. But funnily enough, I’ve never been tempted to bring food into a lover’s bed. Licking chocolate-flavoured body paint or whipped cream off a partner’s genitals holds absolutely no appeal. However, there are some foods that are guaranteed to make me feel horny, which will certainly speed my passage to the bedroom, whenever I eat them. Figs, with their fetid, fusty pheromone flavour, sweet juices running down my chin. And truffles. Why do I love them? Because they taste of nothing more perfect than the way fresh sweat smells. A decent bowl of truffle pasta is akin to burying your face in a lover’s armpit. Oysters, a cliché with their delicious salty, cuntyness. And the fleshy, juice-soaked bread, preferably brioche, that gives structure to a summer pudding, so soft and velvety on the tongue, so sharp and sugary on the taste buds—the subject of a recent post.

Chocolate, on the other hand, does nothing for me. I know it does something for a lot of people—and there’s actually science behind this. The melting point of chocolate is precisely body temperature, so it does, quite literally, melt in the mouth. Mr F craves it, but left to my own devices, I wouldn’t bother with it. No umami in chocolate.

Beyond chocolate, I’ve always assumed that lots people found other foods erotic too. I feel certain they do. (I know I can never get on with the sort of person who proudly declares themselves to be utterly uninterested in what they put into their mouth.) But this then begs the question, why is there so little food-based erotica? Sure, you see it occasionally, but the explosive combination of two of our most basic physical needs is certainly fodder for the most sensual writing. Describing the pleasures of eating and the pleasures of sex presents the same challenges of bringing intense physical sensations to life on the page, without resorting to clichés, in a way in which allows your reader to enjoy a full vicarious experience. Neither is easy, but bringing them together can be rewarding and satisfying for the writer, and a mouth-watering treat for the reader.

If you know of some super-hot food-porn, please tell me about it in the comments—and if you’ve written some, do you ever feel inspired to write more?

Wicked Wednesday

This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt includes ‘revisit’, which works well as I have indeed revisited last week’s post.

 

 

 

42 comments

  1. Yeah, it’s definitely one of my kinks! But, as I said, it’s not something that happens in the bedroom… Thanks for reading.

  2. I’m rather aroused now Tamsin…
    *scurries to fridge*
    Now I’m frustrated.
    I want a food-gasm and I want it NOW!!!
    What an absolutely fantastic post – my mouth is watering x x

  3. I have been meaning to comment on this post for ages.

    Love food, totally into food porn. In fact, one of my favourite forms of erotica is a luscious, tantalising menu – the joy of perusing, the sweet agony of choosing.

    Food-gasms? A fucking amazing raspberry soufflé from the Waterside Inn at Bray (I can still see it, still taste, it almost ten years on). My dad’s venison carpaccio (he uses eye fillet, slices it thin as tissue paper with a really sharp knife and serves it with a light dipping sauce). Fifty-cent chicken pho out of a tin shack in Ho Chi Min city.

    God! Now I’m really bloody hungry!

    Jane
    xxx

  4. You see – certain dishes you can remember for absolutely years! And now I seriously need some venison carpaccio! xoxoxoxo

  5. Pingback: Elust #75

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