tue 16/07/2024

Heston's Great British Food, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Heston's Great British Food, Channel 4

Heston's Great British Food, Channel 4

Duck! The national dish gets Blumenthaled

The fat chip: Heston Blumenthal goes big on the fry

There’s a queue to get into Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant to order things like blowtorched fetlock of kudu with jus de cat-gut noodle on a bed of iron filings strained through a muslin jockstrap. A state of emergency was declared in the gated communities of the south-east a couple of years back when some punters succumbed to metal fatigue or carbon monoxide poisoning or some such specialist alimentary ailment.

Thus it is with anxiety that one learns of Heston’s latest mission: to think laterally about fish and chips.

Yes, assume the brace position. In his new series, the zany lab technician in Biggles’s goggles has been let loose on the staples of British cuisine to see if he can’t whip in some post-postmodern flavours. The fish and chip industry is worth £1.2 billion a year, and each day in the UK the amount of chips we collectively consume would weigh slightly more than a jumbo jet. (Who works out these things?) Hence Heston’s homage, which he kept on pronouncing to rhyme with dommage.

You’ll need some eyeballs and fish stomachs, a laboratory and a toybox

For starters, Heston pureed the contents of a fish and chip dinner, wrapped it round a saveloy and deep-fried it in batter. Then ate it and practically awarded himself another Michelin star. There hasn’t been such a hi-falutin assault on the national dish since Peter Mandelson once slid into a chippie in his old Hartlepool constituency, pointed at some green mush and ordered the guacamole.

Centuries from now our descendants will look back at this programme and wonder how, in order to eat this authentic historic dish, they go about acquiring something called a “newspaper”. Heston turns historian in Heston's Great British Food. Fish and chips are a Victorian invention, he advised after 20 seconds of Googling, a bit like Christmas and trains that need half a day to get to London from Oxford. Heston, however, wouldn’t be Heston if he didn’t begin a programme about a Victorian staple in the kitchen of Henry VIII, where they were preparing trompe-l’oeil fish dishes long before the first potato was shipped in on a boat captained by Francis Drake.

Sorry for not taking down the recipes and passing them on. No doubt there’s a Channel 4 microsite with all the information on how to  ̶in̶c̶i̶n̶e̶r̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶k̶i̶t̶c̶h̶e̶n̶  reproduce Heston’s ideas at home. But you’ll need some eyeballs and fish stomachs, a laboratory and a toybox plus a compulsion to make all foodstuffs look like some other foodstuff. This is Heston’s bizarre pathology and yet, try as he might, Great British Food still feels like a bog-standard cookery show with the usual faked-up ingredients. Cod with everything.

Fish and chips are a Victorian invention, he advised after 20 seconds of Googling


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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