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The lessons I’ve learned from my life as a food critic | Jay Rayner

I never meant to become a restaurant reviewer for life. But I found everything I needed is there in what we eatMy father was not a big eater. “I’d be happy if I could just take a pill for my lunch,” he once told me, when I was eight or nine years old. I had already concluded that the adult world could be wilfully baffling, but this seemed unnecessarily provocative. It felt like a betrayal. As a child, an unfocused mess of fat-softened limbs and round edges, I knew that food was great. I loved bacon sandwiches on white bread and chocolate éclairs, and lived for evenings when my parents were short on time and dinner was the convenience of Findus Crispy Pancakes filled with delicious, if unidentifiable, brown matter.Happily, my mother was not interested in getting her nutrition from a pill. Claire wanted both to feed and be fed. On Saturday lunchtimes, after they had done the weekly shop, my mother would fill the kitchen table with cold cuts and cheeses, and plates laid with slippery ribbons of smoked salmon in the brightest shade of orange. There would be dense fish balls, chopped liver topped with crumbled egg and bagels, for we were Jews through food. There was no space in our lives for God, but there was lots of space for lunch. It was a meal called “Fick and Porridge”, an adapted Spoonerism of pick and forage. It was one of those family jokes which isn’t funny to anybody else or even, eventually, to the family who coined it, but which sticks. What mattered was the intent expressed in the name: this was a knowingly relaxed lunch. It was also a form of open house to which certain close family friends knew they were always invited. And so they would come.Ariel Leve described her commitment to eating superfoods; I dismissed superfoods as anti-scientific cobblers Related: Kurisu Omakase at Ichiban Sushi, London: ‘It is both dinner and theatre’ – restaurant review Continue reading…