More on Moussaka
March 05, 2008
More on Moussaka
Having let my recipe for Moussaka and its provenance sit for a few days (during which time lots of friends told me that they tried it out!)I decided to root around in the internet to see if there could be a trace of Perry-Smith's original recipe still available.
What I discovered was even more surprising.
His step-son is none other than Tom Jaine, one time editor of the Good Food Guide (of which more anon*) writer of an extraordinarily good book on bread making, one time chef of The Carved Angel in Devon and now the director of Prospect Books, which was founded by Alan Davidson.
Always someone who was prepared to take bulls by horns I emailed the man himself and asked for the authentic recipe.
Here is my mail to him;
"Dear Mr. Jaine
I had a restaurant for many years in Waterford and, even though I had never met him, always recognised my debt to George Perry-Smith and his legacy.
I recently remembered references to the Moussaka he used to serve in The Hole in the Wall and mocked one up in my blog.
If anyone knows whether I have got near the original it would have to be you.
You will find the blog entry here I would be reassured to think that it is not too far from the original.
I only discovered your connection with the Maestro when I went googling his name having written my piece.
I have read(and borrowed recipes from) your Bread Book and think you may well have been the editor of the GFG in the early ninties which managed to discover my restaurant before any other reviewer-if so belated thanks!
To my delight within an hour I recieved the following reply;
"What a delightful e-mail and what an interesting blog. Michael
Waterfield was down visiting my stepmother, Heather Perry-Smith, only
two weeks ago.
I rushed to our recipe files to get the moussaka details, only to find
that the recipe did not survive (you know how restaurant recipe files
get renewed by a rolling change as fashions develop over the years -
and moussaka was definitely something was stopped cooking from about
1976/7. Then I recalled that it was, as you say, a recipe in E. David's
Mediterranean Food and that was indeed both the master method, but not,
as you again rightly say, the batter topping. Her method we followed
quite closely and I think from your blog you have abbreviated. In other
words, we would fry the mince with garlic and herbs, set aside; fry
sliced onion til brown, set aside; slice, drain aubergines and fry, set
aside; make up a batch of provencal sauce (and here we would omit the
addition of stock that David suggests). These elements we would then
layer in an individual dish ready to take the topping. Providentially,
my dear wife has a note of the topping, which we would make in a batch
and just pour onto each individual dish as ordered. The batch was half
a pint of milk, four eggs, grated cheese, salt and pepper, all whisked
up and off you go.
I found your blog most enjoyable and also the reference to your
cousin's memories. If you have any memory of them yourself, please let
me know. I do compile files and notes so as to write a Hole in the Wall
recipe book, but never seem to have time to do it properly.
I am glad the GFG got to you. If you want to see more of our great
enterprise, have a look at our web here
All the best,
What more could you want ?
Could it be have come from any closer to the horse's mouth ?
*My previous reference to Tom Jaine and the Good Food Guide happened in a blog I did
here in January 2007.
I emailed him the reference and he mailed me back to say he was delighted.
It is delightful, and surprising, to be at last able to relay my gratitude to him 17 years later.