Friday, July 07, 2006

The Market Diaries

In the Time Out Food&Drink section this week I find a full-page picture of man standing over a pile of mandarines in front of industrial warehouses. Behind him are stacked fruit crates and parked forklifts. I recognise immediately the familiar setting of the Wholesale Market. Which row is it, I try to guess? Probably the middle one. The man seems self-confident with his open shirt, his smart-casual dress, and his comverse shoes. He's lifting one leg in the air, as if he is about to stamp on the discarded mandarines, or to toss them about like a football player. Some of the mandarines are crushed, but most seem alright, just scattered everywhere. The title says: Jamie Who? The fresh talent stamping their mark on London's food scene.

The man, I learn as I read, is the chef-patron of La Noisette, a restaurant soon to be opened in Knightsbridge. Time Out tip him as 'the wild card' on the up-and-coming masterchefs scene, with a reputation for 'fabulously inventive dishes such as foie gras with espresso syrup and amaretto foam'. 'Son of a Dutch father and Spanish mother, born in Switzerland and grew up in New York, the UK and France, about to marry a Canadian - 33-year-old Bjorn van der Horst could have pretty well gone anywhere'. Funny, this exhilarating globalised mix of countries and nationalities sound exactly like what I find in the Wholesale Market bins. Yesterday, for example, I went there and salvaged Domincian Republic Organic bananas, Spanish lemons, Maroccoan oranges and Chilean grapes - all of these, as Time Out put it, could have pretty well gone anywhere, but like Mr. van der Horst, ended up in London.
Aren't we all so lucky.

The discarded pile of mandarines in the Market was chosen to create an impression: something playful and edgy, the mix of orange colour with industrial grit, something wild and urbane-sophisticated. The young chef must be pleased: in the age of celebrity-chefs, an exciting public image is as important as what you cook. But I wonder: what's so delightfully playful about wasted food? Imagine a similar picture in a slaughterhouse: the young chef (who promises lots of meat in his new place) patting the heads of crying lambs, or standing smiling above carcasses and blood. Even die-hard carnivors would not find this too playful. But when it comes to the slaughtering of the planet, it's all fun and games: mandarines going to waste, yupee!

1 comment:

Natasha said...

Email that to Time Out.