Ken Broadhurst’s blog, at http://ckenb.blogspot.com is largely, deliciously and appetisingly all about food; Apart, that is, from the few non-edible bits that have managed to sneak their way in. And even the non-food bits taste good.
I very very keen to interview Ken for A Taste of Garlic to find out the real difference between Gourmand and Gourment, to hear his ideas about how to cook Rabbit and Lardons and to discover if he did, with all that eating, have a tummy the size of Belgium.
I didn’t want to obscure the issue with any meaningless references to Incest and Morris-Dancing so I made a mental note to totally avoid those two subjects.
Desperate as I was to get back to the Loire Valley (where I had spent a very happy summer holiday when I was eleven years old), I knew it would be worth making some preparations first.
I slipped off to the “Thinking Gallery” to decide what questions I was going to ask. Making a mental note to buy some more toilet paper I exited , some ten minutes later, with a substantial list.
Without further ado I called for my carriage and set off for Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher.
Unfortunately, horse and carriage has not been a popular form of transport for over 100 years and thus, I had to resort to sending off my questions by email. A shame really, as I was looking forward to a nice glass of sparkling Vouvray. Perhaps next time.
1). As you mentioned recently, on your blog (http://ckenb.blogspot.com) that you have been blogging almost every day for four years. Do you ever run out of things to say?
Ken Broadhurst – Yes. Some might say I ran out years ago. But I keep plugging away. I figure many blog readers want something every day. How could they get through a day without knowing what’s happening in Saint-Aignan? Even if nothing is happening…
2). You blog, almost obsessively, about food? Are you just greedy, do you suffer from worms or do you have a tummy (I think the American for that is belly), the size of Belgium?
Ken Broadhurst – I’m not greedy or gluttonous, and my gut has shrunk since I moved to France and started eating good food rather than junk. Junk food sneaks up on you when you are working full time, commuting long distances, and not paying attention to what you put in your mouth. BTW, “tummy” is kind of twee — baby talk — and we say belly (as in “beer belly” or “potbelly”) or gut. For me, food is not an obsession. It’s a necessity. The beauty of cooking good food yourself is that you have turned a necessary task into a pleasurable one. You are in control of the ingredients and the portions. There’s the secret to living a good life.
3). Good Food, Good Friends and Good Wine – is this the secret to a happy life?
Ken Broadhurst – Yes. But even if the Good Friends are far away, you shouldn’t neglect the other two parts of the equation. Au contraire…
4). Gustave Flaubert called the Loire “the most French of French rivers”. What makes it so special?
Ken Broadhurst – Are you sure he didn’t say the Cher? Or the Seine? What’s special about the Loire is that it is long, and it is as slow-flowing as the day is long. But Flaubert was a writer, and he knew that the best French was spoken along the Loire, from Orléans westward to the sea. Paris is Paris, Provence is Provence, Normandy is Normandy, and the same goes for Brittany, Périgord, Alsace, and Burgundy, among others — but the Loire Valley is just France.
5). The Château de Chenonceau (which Gustav Flaubert described as “floating on air and water”) – the most beautiful château in France?
Ken Broadhurst – I’m not sure about that. There are so many of them. Hundreds, if not thousands. Chenonceau is usually a mob scene. Smaller, lesser-known châteaux often have more charm.
6). Have you made many friends through your blog?
Ken Broadhurst – Yes, many. I have new friends in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. They stop by when they are in the area.
7). Ricard or Pernod?
Ken Broadhurst – Suze or Pineau des Charentes? Calvados or Armagnac? Gnôle or Vieille Prune?
8). What do you say to the people who believe that Elvis isn’t dead but is recovering from Swine flu and occasionally to be seen drinking un petit apero in a back street bar in Tours?
Ken Broadhurst – That wasn’t Elvis, it was Johnny Hallyday. Oh, no, he’s in the hospital in L.A. Dick Rivers. Or maybe Eddy Mitchell.
9). Foie Gras – food of the gods or cruel?
Ken Broadhurst – Right fittin’, I say. What they do to geese and ducks is no more cruel than what they do to the chickens, fish, cattle, or lamb we eat.
10). In Henry James’ “A Little Tour in France”, he mentions neither Incest nor Morris-Dancing (at least, not in that part of the book that deals with the Loire Valley.) Do you believe that his editor insisted on this or did he just not observe either affliction?
Ken Broadhurst – I don’t know what Morris-Dancing is. As for incest, well, somebody told me recently that there’s one village not far from Saint-Aignan where all the inhabitants speak with the same lisp. Why would that be, if not…? Somebody said it’s the game the whole family can play.
11). In an early blog article (you see, here at A Taste of Garlic we really do read the blogs we enthuse about), you mention that you learned to cook because you didn’t have enough money to eat in restaurants whilst working as a teaching assistant in Normandy in 1972. (Editors note: I appolgise for the length of some of the sentences here – it’s a medical thing. I am getting treatment and the doctors are full of hope.) You explain that as your parents were no longer footing the bill you had only one choice: learn how to cook. Either that, or not eat? Do you believe that the world would be a better place if the “youth of today” stopped playing with their skateboards and hula hoops, stopped listening to their hippy hoppy, techno acid rap music (if indeed, you can call that horrendous noise music), and learn to cook instead?
Ken Broadhurst – I think there are phases in life. If you are lucky, there comes a time when you want to cook and eat well. For some it comes earlier, for others later. For some, sadly, it never comes. Maybe some people just die too young. But I’m not one to give much advice to the “youth of today.” By the way, living in the American Middle West between stints in Aix, Rouen, and Paris reinforced in me the notion that I should do my own cooking.
12). An evening spent as a guest of Paul Bocuse or as a guest of Britney Spears. Which would you choose?
Ken Broadhurst – Who is Britney Spears? Seriously, I’m not sure Paul Bocuse would be my first choice either. Maybe Jean-Pierre Coffe, or Julie Andrieu.
13). Do you want to answer any more questions or would you prefer to pop off down the bar for a quick vin rouge and let me make up the rest of the answers?
Ken Broadhurst – You said twelve questions, not thirteen. Now you’re on your own, Keith. I have root vegetables roasting in the oven as I type this…
All the best