My Waterloo celebrationby Wendell Steavenson / June 18, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
You can blame Heston Blumenthal for the culinary chaos that took place over my dinner table recently. I fell for his style of dramatic cooking 10 years ago, after a Steavenson family visit to the Fat Duck, his restaurant in Bray. Yes, the meal was delicious, but it was something else that made it special; something more than taste. A spoonful of lime and green tea meringue cooled in a fog of liquid nitrogen rendered my mother speechless. I caught my father giggling as he scooped his spoon through edible sand, complete with sea creatures nestled in a foam shoreline. The meal was surprising (gel tabs that melted pine flavour on your tongue); it was witty (egg and bacon ice cream); it was theatre. During his 2012 television series Fantastical Food, Blumenthal cooked up crazy-extravaganza-silliness: a medieval banquet where a man in a jerkin shot an arrow into the hide of a deer to herald roast venison; a Scott of the Antarctic Roll for a Titantic-themed meal; a gothic horror repast where the main course consisted of meaty ribs nestled in a replica skeleton.
Blumenthal invented dishes as storytelling, and I have caught the bug. It’s his fault that I am inspired to make narratives out of celebration meals. Readers may recall my D-Day dinner in Normandy last June, when I made a tricolore cake for dessert. This summer is my fathers’ 80th birthday and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Dad is a Napoleon fanatic. Well, I thought gleefully: let the madness begin: