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Friday, 5 July 2013

Food DIY Launch Party at Fitzbillies

For the launch of his Food DIY book, Tim Hayward invited a group of friends to his restaurant Fitzbillies for a launch party.
The very concept of DIY food evokes a different, earlier era - in this country now, up to two generations have grown up not knowing how to cook and relying on tinned and packaged food.

Post-war austerity and socialist inclinations led food production in Britain to be treated as more of an industrial process than an artisan one. The cultural nadir was perhaps the 70s - a decade in which I remember everything being either frozen, tinned or out of a packet.

Yet the same period also saw the very beginnings of a backlash and a move towards greater variety in diet, whilst the inexorable march of pre-prepared food continued for the majority; it may have started small - prawn cocktail and Chablis - but fresh seafood and French wines were the beginnings of a more sophisticated and artisan way of dining.

Fast forward through 30+ years of celebrity chefs and food lifestyle magazines and making one's own food is right on the zeitgeist.

Ironically, this increased interest in the making of food stems from greater wealth - it's a middle class obsession with rural, artisan authenticity as escapism from our urban lifestyles, not an economic necessity or cultural habit.

It was, after all, Britain that invented industrialisation in the 1770s and, two centuries later, the industrialised food of the 1970s is merely the logical and inevitable extension of the spinning jenny and Stephenson's Rocket.

This polarisation of attitudes to food is a deeply anglo-saxon issue, peculiar to Britain and the US: the rise of fast food and pre-packaged food vs a middle class enthusiasm for artisan methods.

In continental Europe, the distinction between the two is less profound; an enthusiasm for artisan food is more part of the general culture than a backlash against the rise of industrial food. The French do have their hypermarches, but they are stocked with good local wines and cheeses, different types of breads and fresh (often live) seafood.

The food at Fitzbillies has a peasanty feel - there is no urban fussiness here; rather, it is simple classics well made.

The wines for the evening were, likewise, good straightforward crowd-pleasers and both from southern France - a Picpoul and a Carignan.
The picpoul was the better match of the two with the meal, with a food-friendly freshness and an atypical honeyed weightiness whilst the berry fruit of the Carignan tended to clash with the flavours of the food.

Home-cured smoked salmon with capers and hollandaise, globe artichokes
Whole roast suckling pig, buttered wilted greens, roast potatoes and crackling

Tim's book Food DIY is available from amazon, priced at £16

Other related articles
Family and friends dinner at Fitzbillies
Fitzbillies and a perfect day out
A cupcake party at Fitzbillies

Fitzbillies - website, twitter
Tim Hayward - website, twitter
Food DIY on amazon - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-DIY-Everything-sausages-sourdough/dp/1905490976

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