A cuckoo blew on my BBQ

At present I’m savouring the Netflix series ‘Chefs Table’. Composed of six episodes profiling six different chefs from around the globe. I’ve been eeking them out so have yet to watch them all. I have found each programme to be an inspiring look into each chefs approach as to how they express themselves. They are so connected to their land and seasons, which is hardly surprising, to see how they deliver their ethos or message on a plate I have found quite extraordinary.

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The story of Argentine chef Francis Mallmann awakened something within me, I’ve watched the programme on him twice. Having started cooking for a living during the 70’s he went on to train in Paris for a couple of years before returning home to dispatch fancy French cuisine as cocksure an arrogant as any classically trained trained chef. Until one day when a diner took him aside and told him his food was terrible and that he really ought to find out what his true culinary voice was. Mallmann said he shrugged it off at first, what would this person know about fine dining (it was the head of Cartier), but the thought didn’t go away and he did begin to explore what cooking meant to him. And it meant FIRE! And here we see him on his island at the southern most point of Patagonia cooking outside on all sorts of fire. Free and happy and most importantly full, of all sorts of kinds of full.

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Fast forward to this Saturday just gone when I decided to start straightening the garden up. It was freezing. ‘I’ll make a fire like Francis’ I thought, collecting up the fallen branches and twigs and throwing them onto my little cast iron BBQ as I worked.

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It added a hazy smoky purposeful and urgent dimension to the act of clearing the yard and meant I had to stay outside while it burnt thereby enforcing my labour. ‘I’ll put a squash in it for lunch like Francis’ I thought an hour or so in. I wrapped a squash in tin foil and buried it in the fire. I felt quite liberated by not patiently waiting until the fire had burned down to embers and carried on with my sweeping and pruning (is it the right time of year to be pruning? And why are my Hellibore’s so unhappy?).

Forty or so minutes later I was finished and ravenous and had turned into Francis Mallmann.

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Fire roasted squash with rocket and chèvre.

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5 Comments to “A cuckoo blew on my BBQ”

  1. Gareth W D says:

    Loving the splodgy plate, Bridie. And the cutlery

  2. Clayton says:

    Francis Mallmann is a true inspiration! Loved the rest of the Chef’s Table series as well.

  3. Charlotte K says:

    I loved that series, especially Francis Mallman, but it never occurred to me to do what you did. I love it. I have to get one of those little hibachis. We had one when I was a child. I’d forgotten all about them!

  4. Susanna says:

    Oh Bridie… It looks fabulous! Squash season is over here, but I will keep it in mind for next year.
    Having recently moved to the Toscana, to a house that has a fireplace so big, I could grill
    Mallmann + all the meat in the picture at the same time, I have been considering slow cooking in it. I am told that is the tuscan way, but was dreading the fat dripping and smell all over the house. Perhaps the outside “fire on the ground “option is better, actually I just remember that there is a lot of olive branches left from the harvest, and I will gather it tomorrow to save for a spring roast outside
    I must confess , that I do not really know much about Mallman, but a very dear childhood friend of mine, had a restaurant with him in Trancoso. I do not know if they are still working together , but I tagged my friend on your Instagram post.
    I will put something in the mail for you ( would the shop address be fine ? )… No…it will not be a pair of Marni shoes ( I have to think you, every time with those, since no one else likes them as much as I do ) but, just something for the next time you
    do your squash+rocket+chévre.
    X

    • Bridie says:

      Dear Susanna,

      I agree about cooking over a fire inside, although there might be a way around the fat and the smell. I LOVE the idea of using the olive branches for a spring roast – be fearless! The shop address is perfect…oh I love surprises. I also love those Marni shoes too and still get compliments every time I wear them, although I was thinking just this morning that it might be time to see if anything else interesting is out there for my feet…..Bx

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