Friday, 27 January 2012

Food for thought.

I’ve been re-reading Dickens. It’s something I’ve planned to do for a while and finally I have got round to it and I am thoroughly enjoying it. My copy of Great Expectations dates from 1965, a Penguin Classics edition, original price £1.75. Those were the days! It would probably cost more than that to by it from a second hand bookshop now. At the end of the book, along with various explanatory notes about the text was a comment on the ending, which went like this:

"Dickens, at the last moment, changed his original ending to Great Expectations. His friend, Edward Bulwer Lytton the novelist, pleaded with him to unite Pip with Estella.”

Since then, only George Bernard Shaw has ever reprinted the book with the original ending where Pip declared that the only good thing he had ever done was to help Herbert Pocket establish himself and that was all.

And there I was, thinking that giving a “happy ending” to stories, putting a positive spin on things was a modern invention, probably coming from Hollywood. I’d even heard stories of film makers coming up with two alternative endings, trying them out on a test audience and going with whichever seemed the more popular. Well, apparently it’s been going on a little longer than I thought!!

I’ve also been reading about Italian cookery. We recently watched an excellent series about Sicily where the art expert Andrew Graham Smith and the celebrity chef GiorgioLocatelli went on a tour of the island looking at ... yes, you’ve guessed ... food and art. At one point the art expert showed his mother’s old copy of Elizabeth David’s book, Italian Food, with illustrations by Sicilian artist Renato Guttuso. This inspired my Phil to get me a copy, unfortunately without the famous illustrations, for my birthday.

In the introduction to the first Penguin edition of the book Elizabeth David writes about traditional English attitudes to cookery, especially back in the 1960s. This is part of what she said:

"The French, we believe, have been forced to perfect the art of cookery owing to what we like to think is a necessity to disguise poor materials. We ourselves have, we comfortably imagine, no need for either art or artifice in the kitchen. Our basic ingredients are too superb to need the application of intelligence or training in their preparation."

Now, I think I’ve heard that argument somewhere else more recently. Where could that be? Oh, yes! Galicia!!

On a more serious note, they’re having a rough time of, not just in Galicia but all over Spain where unemployment has reached over 5 million. Emigration is back to the rate it was at 10 years ago as more and more young, and sometimes not so young, Spaniards go and seek work abroad.

In the same week that this news has come out, it seems that the Argentinean footballer Carlos Tevez is trying hard to recoup from Manchester City the fines imposed as disciplinary action. He’s down £9.3 million, I understand.

I’m pretty sure that a lot of those unemployed Spaniards would love to be ABLE to lose that much money!!

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