Why Keith Floyd will be sorely missed

Keith FloydSo Keith Floyd has passed onto the great vineyard in the sky.

It often seems to be the way that two famous people die on the same day: and so it is that Floyd turns up his toes on the same day as Patrick Swayze.

Maybe it’s the parochial nature of Floyd being British, maybe it’s because I’ve barely seen more that 2 films that star Swayze (I have never seen Dirty Dancing, just for the record), but I feel far more affected by the chef’s death than the Hollywood star.

It’s fair to say that Keith Floyd played a massive part in revolutionising TV cookery – in the UK at least. Before he came along, it was all standing behind a counter, staring at a camera and playing a straight bat.

Floyd changed it completely. For starters, there was the wine. The glass of red became his sidekick, if you like, along with his bow tie – always the mark of a real individual.

But more than that – it wasn’t all about the fixed camera. On Floyd’s shows, the camera went right into the dish, the saucepan or the ingredients.

And then there was him. A great chef, a mesmerising personality and a true one-off – he loved words and he loved food: what a fantastic combination.

I first recall Keith Floyd because my Dad and step-mum were always going on about him. I was barely a teeanger and was more interested in Top of The Pops than cooking programmes, but there was something about him, even to me at that age, that made TV compelling.

Enjoy this clip which is actually about Marco Pierre White at Harveys, but Keith Floyd makes an entertaining, as always, appearance.

Local food for local people

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

The above beach is the view 5 metres from my front door while on holiday. Nice, eh?

Anyway, the point about this post is that Cornwall seems to be a law unto itself, when it comes to produce.

One of the advantages of coming somewhere like Cornwall is that the fish in all the restaurants is all local and caught that day.

What’s a bigger surprise is that a lot of the produce in the supermarkets – and I even mean the likes of Tesco – is also Cornish.

They make great play on selling Cornish potatoes, Cornish strawberries, Cornish milk… the list goes on.

Living in London, you’re hard pushed to find anything from within the M25 on the supermarket shelves.

Chef Oliver Rowe managed to open a restaurant, Konstam, based on just such a principle for all his ingredients, but he found it pretty tough.

Now clearly London is an exception, but C’s mum lives near Shrewsbury, a mere spit from the Welsh border, but can she ever find Welsh lamb in the shops? Of course not!

More power to food miles and metres (as one shop in St Ives boasts) – I just wish it applied to places other than Cornwall sometimes.

A Taste Of My Life – genius programming

Nigel SlaterIn a world of celebrity where no-one famous appears on any medium without having something to plug, the current series of A Taste Of My Life on BBC2, fronted by the god-like Nigel Slater is an oasis among a sea of mediocrity and vapidity.

The format is very simple. Nigel Slater talks to someone famous about their life and the food they remember from certain periods of it.

There’s a bit of cooking, but nothing as serious as full-on recipes, and a little bit of video footage of friends and family to break up the show, but to all intents and purposes, this is just Nigel and A. Celeb yakking about food and their memories of it.

What makes the show so brilliant is that most of the famous people talk about things that we can all remember from our own childhoods and younger days: lemon meringue pie, Angel Delight, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, vegetable curry, tuna pasta.

Slater himself initially seems a bit of a bumbling interviewer, but actually he’s superb at coaxing out little nuggets of gold simply by being passionate himself about similar experiences from his own childhood.

This series has included gems from people such as Tamsin Greig, Jo Brand, Denis Lawson, Sue Johnston and Meera Syal – not always people you’d instantly be interested in, but the show makes them interesting and you get some sort of insight into their lives that most interviewers (be it print or TV) never manage to show.

The joy of the iPlayer means that there’s still a chance to catch up on some last week’s episodes you may have missed, so please do yourself a favour and have a butcher’s.