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Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 December 2020
AA Gill & British Pubs
AA Gill & Jeffrey Steingarten
Two wonderful food writers are the late AA Gill, UK and Jeffrey Steingarten, USA. Both have a unique voice and have brought something special to ‘foodie’ writing. Both writers have created a persona, which whilst probably not true adds something immeasurable to their style.
AA Gill seems to be an angry, sardonic working or lower middle class intellectual with a ‘chip on his shoulder’. Although, this is not an adequate description. It is superficial, and certainly not true. He was upper middle class from a happy background.
What is true is that he spent his late teens and the whole of his twenties as a drunk.
Jeffrey Steingarten presents the persona of a New Yorker with obsessive compulsive behaviours. It is also probably not true, but adds an energy to his writing. I’ll cover him in a later article.
Steingarten tends to give you more information than you ever wanted to know, but in a very entertaining way. AA Gill gives you less than you want (fewer column inches).
I’ll concentrate on AA Gill, who wrote a few short articles on the British pub amidst a massive oeuvre of food and travel writing. Although he offended many people constantly, it was an integral part of his style. The quotations below are from Table Talk 2007 a collection of his column articles from the Sunday Times.
AA Gill Biography
Adrian Anthony Gill (28 June 1954 to 10 December 2016) was born in Edinburgh. His English father Michael Gill was a TV producer and director; his Scottish mother an actress. He was educated at the independent St Christopher School, Hertfordshire, which was co-educational and vegetarian. He recalls his experiences at the school in his book The Angry Island.
He moved to London to study art. He spent six years after art school trying to paint, but decided he wasn’t good enough.
He began his writing career in his thirties after drying out. He used AA Gill, as well as his name, as a reference to Alcoholics Anonymous, though he was very guarded about his post alcoholic experiences.
He made his first major breakthrough with a pseudonym piece for Tatler in 1991 of being in a detox clinic. In 1993, he was poached from Tatler by the Sunday Times where, according to Lynn Barber, ‘he quickly established himself as their shiniest star.’ He continued with the Sunday Times until shortly before his death from cancer. In 2010 the Sunday Times disclosed that Gill had been the subject of 62 Press Complaints Commission complaints in 5 years for his acerbic comments.
One example will suffice, he described the Welsh as: ‘loquacious dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls’. But, the racism commission declined to prosecute because it said Gill had not meant to stir up racial hatred.
Why AA Gill and the British pub?
British Food — an appraisal of the middle
English food because I anticipated hoards of angry Poms responding abusively. Little did I know then that any response would be welcome instead of the usual overwhelming silence. In blogging today one usually gets favourable responses, unlike the thoughtless and cruel outrage of social media.
I thought that it was time to have another look at British Food — an appraisal of the middle too see what sort of job I’d done and to change my opinion if necessary.
The article is rather long but it covers much ground. A trip to central England of two months in 2014 with reference to a year in the UK in 1980/81 is interspersed with food experiences, before concentrating on the British pub.
The appraisal of British food is based on eating out at the middle level. It is taken as given that British food in top restaurants is the equivalent of anywhere. We know the names of many top British chefs.
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