Fanny Cradock actually had a curious relationship with food. She delighted in it, but she feared it at the same time. At least she did once her TV career began - she said that the camera piled on extra pounds, even commenting after the war that both her and Johnnie were such a size that there was no way they'd both fit on the TV screen at the same time. She kept to a very strict diet to help keep herself trim, even taking her own 'slimline' food when invited round for dinner, while encouraging the rest of us to cook, eat and be ample. It's the same deal with TV cooks today really. She was ahead of the curves, shunning the 5:2 diet for a more extreme 6:1 version, all washed down with a few chemical helpers if the rumours are to be believed.
For her own 'slimming diet', she stuck to a fortnight of nothing more than lemon juice in hot water and perhaps a small grapefruit or 'slimming soup' to kickstart her into shape. Allegedly. For the Cookery Programme she recommends a Raw Carrot Salad as an hors d'oeuvre for slimmers. Fanny herself says it is nothing more complicated than topped, tailed, scraped and peeled carrots cut into juliennes strips on the mandoline, as used in professional kitchens in France. I have some lovely, knobbly, gnarly, dirty carrots from the market which badly need some love. Todays TV cooks might do the same, but spiralised I suppose, which makes me shudder. Surely there must be more to this salad than raw carrot?
While we ponder, Fanny has some crucial information about choosing a few other vegetables which may be used in hors d'oeuvres, which you could employ as if you were an expert. Thanks Fanny. She gives no clues what to do with them once you've chosen them. Presumably they are not for slimmers. And certainly not for bargain hunters. As Esoffier said, 'In the matter of provisions the cheapest is the dearest in the end'! So shall we have a little quiz together to guess which vegetables she is educating us about?
First up, something which should be shiny skinned, blackish purple in colour and as hard as a policeman's truncheon? It can leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but this can be easily drawn from the flesh with salt once exposed. Of course... aubergines. Next, something which should feel tight as drums as you hold them in your hands and should handle hard but with paper-thin skins. Soft spongy ones are worthless, Fanny warns. That's right... onions. Lastly, something which should be small and hard - the bigger, more impressive ones will not have a good taste, a bit like boiled turnips, so only the very tips should be devoured. You got it... radishes, naturally.
Now that is all clear, we can turn our attention back to the dubious diet, and back to the carrots. There is no way Fanny would simply serve shredded carrots to a slimmer. If like me, you are hoping for the addition of another flavour, look away. No, she also cuts ribbons of carrot, rolls them up into little curls, secures them with a cocktail stick and decorates the edge of the 'salad' with them. Not even a poppyseed. I think perhaps she has been spending too much time fondling her other 'vegetables' and knocking back her little friends if I'm perfectly honest. I do love carrots, and raw is bang on trend right now, but those so-called healthy, clean fads are not for me. I enjoy food too much, just like Fanny, but without the miniature helpers. Maybe I should take her advice after all?