Photos by Mike Vickers
Feature Photo Above: In what world did you honestly think cake would not make it onto this list? Here’s a bundt tin beauty Jan made for an evening with our Turkish neighbours. You should have seen the smiles.
I have recently begun to notice something odd. Perhaps you have, too. I’ve realised that a good many of the most sumptuous, delicious and tastiest foods actually begin with the letter ‘C’. Surely this is no coincidence? Have I accidentally stumbled across a worldwide conspiracy? If so, sign me up. No, I mean it – I’m absolutely 100% in on this one, heart, soul, teeth, tongue and tummy!
Here’s my own personal list of favourite C-based foods. Please feel free to contact me if you have any of your own suggestions to add. This is a fast-moving dynamic situation, as BBC news crews like to say, and all are most welcome.
This list is in no particular order of preference apart from the premier spot. You might want to strap in for the ride or, alternatively, maybe go in the opposite direction and loosen your belt a notch or two for comfort.
Curry. There’s a reason this is at the top of the chart. It doesn’t matter what else is suggested, I’m not moving curry off the top spot. Not now, not ever! Not even for cheese. Just thinking about a curry actually makes me salivate. Fancy joining me in a quiet dribble?
Cheese. Life without cheese is unimaginable. Jan and I both love cheese in all its myriad forms. Our fridge is never without cheese. I get a bit sweaty and nervous if I find the cheese self empty. I would love to be greeted by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates with a large dollop of baked cheese and mash pudding surrounded by a moat of baked beans dusted with oodles of grated Cheddar. Heavenly!
Chips. Of the myriad ways to cook potatoes, frying is by far and away the tastiest. Although a welcome accompaniment to a huge number of dishes right across the globe, I’m going out on a limb here to state that you cannot beat a plateful of sunny-side up fried eggs with your chips. Plus buttered bread for butties and dipping into golden sunshine yolks. And a pool of tomato sauce big and deep enough for Tom Daley to demonstrate one of his Olympic-winning dives. Now we’re talking.
Cheesy Chips. See above, then coat in melted cheese!! One of those much-loved combinations, giving us a top notch double-barreled entry. My word, the person who thought of cheesy chips deserves the undying thanks of a grateful nation. Brilliant!
Chocolate. Millennia ago, somewhere in South America, someone was experimenting with cacao beans. They stuck their finger into this warm, dark, gooey mess and gave it a lick. ‘Oooh, that’s nice. Yes, I think this one has got legs!’ There’s a special place in heaven for that inspirational pioneer. If you ask people to list what gives them more genuine pleasure than anything else, chocolate will certainly appear either at or very near the top.
Chilli Con Carne. Don’t you just love a dish that sounds like it should be cold – but isn’t!
Chillies. Not many foods come with a health warning, but a plate of Turkish dried chillies qualifies admirably. Not the sort of thing you want to stick in your mouth in a rash moment. Mind you, that’s a wise aphorism you can apply to all walks of life.
Caramel. Possibly the second best liquid you can have dribbling down your chin. After cream, obviously, just in case you wondered…
Chicken. That grand but bland transporter of other flavours, the very reason why we like it so much.
Chutney. As a general rule, the lumpier, the better. Here we have the tangy Siamese twin to cheese – and you already know how I feel about cheese.
Ciabatta. Truly delicious Italian bread. Love it! Oh my days, I’ve just put cheese, chutney and ciabatta together to create a snack fit for an Emperor.
Cream. Milk’s luxuriously unctuous cousin. Think of summer and a bowl of strawberries.
Cream Buns. That’s the pastry, not a sexual deviation, although it does sound like a lot of fun…
Cream Horns. Yeah, see above. The same applies.
Cream Crackers. A perfectly acceptable but crunchier alternative to the ciabatta, cheese and chutney combo we’ve just been talking about. Both offer a triple whammy of deliciousness.
Cream of Tomato Soup. Mmm, stretching it a bit with this one, but I love the stuff, especially when I’m ill and need cheering up. It’s one of the very few instances where something straight out of a tin consistently beats the same dish freshly-made.
Cabbage. My brother hated cabbage when we were running around in short trousers at infant’s school. One lunchtime, the cadaverous head mistress, Miss Banner, stood over him, forcing him to eat his cabbage. Being a studious pupil, he did as he was told, but then registered his disapproval by leaning over and chucking up all over her shoes. Unsurprisingly, neither he nor I have ever forgotten that spectacular moment of gastric rebellion. I don’t think Miss Banner ever forgot that day either, but possibly for different reasons. Go, Steve!
Carrots. OK, so if they are supposed to make you see better in the dark, why don’t bats eat them?
Cauliflower. Looks like brains, gives you the farts. Entertaining on every level.
Currants. That’s the dried fruit, not the kind that makes your hair stand on end if you stick your fingers in a socket. Jan puts currants in her curries. Those pops of sweetness are delightful.
Cardamom. Not a favourite spice of mine, in fact I think it’s ghastly. It’s like eating old potpourri, but it qualifies only on account of beginning with the letter ‘C’.
Celery. An essential ingredient in many soups, celery is structurally impressive and specifically designed for dipping into much nicer things at summer parties.
Coffee. You just can’t beat a really nice mug of Joe. So why is coffee called Joe? There are three possible sources, so go online to check out your favourite. Personally, I like the theory that ‘Joe’ is 19th century slang for ‘a common man’, so a cup of Joe is the common man’s drink.
Churros. Oh my god! Have you tasted churros?
Chipolatas. I’m so glad these tiny sausages have made the list.
Croissants. When the French get it right, they really get it right.
Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame and any Croque kids. The whole Gallic family are most welcome. Contains lots of cheese, so that’s OK then.
Croutons. So much more than just cubes of fried bread floating in your soup.
Cockles. Jan’s absolute favourite.
Creme Brûlée. The queen of charred foods.
Cherries. When we owned the Yakamoz Hotel, some of our staff came from Nif, a small village up in the mountains behind Fethiye. Nif is recognized as the place where the best cherries in Turkey are grown, and Turkish cherries are recognized as some of the finest in the world. With that in mind, I can say these cherries were sublime, especially the white ones. The staff always brought loads to the hotel during the harvest in early June and lamb with cherries was a popular restaurant favourite. A glass of beer served with bobbin’ cherries, less so…
Cin. This is the Turkish spelling for gin. The spelling is phonetic so a ‘C’ is is pronounced as a ‘J’ in Turkish, hence cin. Bit of a cheat, I know, but it’s my article and since both Jan and I enjoy a nice gin and tonic filled with fresh lemons from our garden, I’m prepared to give myself some latitude in this case. Or Jase. Whatever.
Cider. I’m not so keen on cider, despite my West-Country Gloucestershire heritage. A school field trip to the Lake District in 1970 set me on the path to a lifetime of actively avoiding this appley drink. An evening visit to the Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck in the company of some hardened drinkers from a school in Manchester had catastrophe written all over it when the barman popped my alcohol cherry with a pint of cloudy and very strong flat cider. It cost 10p. Twenty minutes later, I fell off my stool and rolled around on the floor with the sweet wrappers and dust bunnies. What followed was horrendous on every level you can imagine. I was spectacularly ill all night – ask the poor sod who was sleeping in the bunk below me – and all the following day. Even today I still feel nauseous whenever I smell cider. Talk about aversion therapy.
Crab. We’ve now started down the path to a big finish with this prince of seafoods. Delicious and sweet, especially in a sandwich with thick crusty bread. Cornwall on a plate. Absolutely wonderful.
Crisps. Still building to the grand finale. The crunch, the taste, made from potatoes – what’s not to love. The all-time favourite snack for generations. Jan sprinkles broken crisps on top of her cauliflower cheese before popping it in the oven to bake. The result is crispy crunchy heaven.
Cake. Let’s climax with cake! Now there’s a helluva slogan. Can’t think why we haven’t heard that one on TV. Cake is a vast subject and is greatly appreciated in all its many diverse forms by just about everyone I’ve ever met, but if I had to pick a favourite, I’d probably plump for a rich fruit cake, one that contains more fruit than cake mix. Presented on a plate with a good strong cheese – a combination much favoured up north in England, – and you have as close to perfection as possible. D’you know, I’m very happy to end this list on such a high note.
Looking at the above, apart from the carrots, cauli and cabbage, I’m struck by just how many of my choices are unsuitable as part of a balanced diet, but I’m pretty sure I could cope for a while. Quite a while, if truth be known, although most medical professionals would probably throw a fit. As you accumulate more years, they do seem ever keener to advise against enjoying yourself. Getting old is bad enough, but don’t make it worse by denying yourself all the things you love. Food is so much more than just fuel. It is without doubt one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Finally, just remember each of us only has a limited time walking this good Earth so we must take every opportunity to enjoy ourselves as much as we can. Use your time wisely. Eat well and always eat with curiosity – in all my years and all my travels, I’ve rarely stuck my fork into something I didn’t like.
Except olives. Can’t stand those evil green slimy balls of bilious bitterness!