, Gloucester, MA


October 19, 2012

Journal Pages: To London for the 'Eton Mess'

Throughout the television coverage of the London Olympic Games this past summer, I received frequent bulletins from my husband as I drifted about the house.

“Look at this. Can you believe what he’s doing? Hurry up – you’re going to miss it!”

It was not to see Michael Phelps streamlining through the pool, nor Gabrielle Douglas twirling around bars. His calls spoke instead to quite a different agenda.

It was to catch popular British chef Jamie Oliver preparing English culinary delights, courtesy of NBC’s coverage for The Today Show. Oliver, along with svelte anchorwoman Savannah Guthrie (whose role was straight man and taster), filled quite a few time slots in the breaks between competitions.

Oliver, ever the tongue-in-cheek showman, prepared favorite recipes, filling in with their quirky histories as well. From the next room, my sweetheart called out: “He’s making Eton Mess! This looks fantastic!”

The dessert got its name, he quipped, when some hundred years ago, an unfortunate cook tripped and fell, dropping the elegant creation on the floor on his way to present it to a roomful of aristocratic boys at Eton College.

Quick thinking and a measure of gumption saved his reputation (and likely, his job) as he quickly scraped it off the floor and back into the serving dish, presenting it as Eton’s own signature dessert. Savanna Guthrie approved the confection.

Another day, there was fresh ravioli with four extremely English cheeses,” taking me back to the Monty Python episode, “The Cheese Shop.” Ah! British cheeses! I listened to the makings of Christmas breakfast: fried lamb kidneys and bacon with mushrooms, on toast. And there was their own version of lemonade, British-style, with gin.

“Want to go to London?” my husband called out.

“OK,” I said, unaware it was a serious question.

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