This week’s guest is Phil from As Strong As Soup. I had to really twist Phil’s arm to do this – admittedly, even more difficult done at a distance to someone you don’t know – and he has cunningly managed to answer my questions without giving anything away.
I love Phil’s blog – it’s is a mixture of historical knowledge, random food facts, recipes and hilarious half-tales that hint at a life lived to the full. Somehow it all hangs together in an elegant and compulsively readable fashion (and the recipes aren’t half-bad either). Here’s what I managed to get out of him…
What’s your blog about?
It’s really just a collection of recipes that I’ve created or found lying around. There are quite a number of French dishes in the blog, especially French baking. There’s no real plan behind that. It’s just that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in France and I can’t always find that kind of French cooking in English books.
When did you start it? Why?
Getting on for three years ago, I was sitting in a restaurant in the Languedoc thinking that I’d like to recreate the dish that I was eating when I got home. Trouble was I knew that I was hopeless at writing recipes down and I suddenly thought, “Why not start my own blog? That will force me to make a proper record”. By and large, it’s worked.
|Indonesian Satay Bread Image: As Strong As Soup|
Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?
I have always tried to remain as amateur as possible in all my endeavours in life and this is certainly no exception.
Who’s your food hero?
Actually I’ve got a few heroes, but none of them are well known. For instance, Pierrot who cooked in his own little restaurant for many years, often singing as he did so. He treated all his customers as friends, kept his food simple and his prices low and made the largest île flottante that I’ve ever eaten.
|Duck Apicus Image: As Strong As Soup|
Masterchef and TV food shows – hot or not?
Well, I know lots of people love them but I don’t really get most big TV shows. Watching shopping channels is slightly less irritating to me than competitive cooking or reality shows about people decorating cakes. I do enjoy some really low budget shows on the lesser channels and regional stations which are largely a woman (or man) wandering around the countryside with a saucepan.
What are your three favourite posts on your blog?
My first-ever post about the parmesan sablé, partly because it’s what started it all, but mostly because I still really like the biscuits.
Duck Apicius, because they were challenging to get right but eventually turned out just the way I wanted them.
|Nonnettes with White Chocolate Chips Image: As Strong As Soup|
Tell us about another blog you love.
That’s unfair because there are so many. Can I be cheeky and name two? Both these blogs have a wide range of food but both are rooted in very different traditions to the Anglo/French one that I know.
I’ve learned a lot from both Michelle at Food, Football and a Baby and Ozlem at Ozlem’s Turkish Table.
(Oops, I’ve just remembered that Michelle was on Masterchef – I obviously didn’t mean that bit about preferring the shopping channel).
What’s for dinner tonight?
For quite a while now I’ve been planning to recreate a dish of pork with prunes that I ate years ago in the Loire valley. I thought I might do that, but I’m likely to be really short of time again and so I think it’s more likely to be a homemade Eccles cake with cheese.
|Eccles Cakes a la Phil Image: As Strong As Soup|
What else do you do?
I’ve done a number of odd and disconnected things in my life but these days I stick to making waistcoat-buttons in the silent night and trying to stay out of trouble. (I’m not doing too well at that).
Who do you cook for?
My cooking is definitely a family affair these days. I do spend a lot of time feeding a family of robins who live in a nearby tree, but they prefer worms to cake.