Remove the tongue from the brine and soak in fresh, cold water for 24 hours, changing the water at least once more. Put the tongue in a pan with the bouquet garni, vegetables and garlic, cover with fresh water and bring to a gentle simmer. Poach very gently for two and a half to three hours, until tender and yielding. Lift out the tongue, cool and peel off the coarse outer skin.
And so to tongue (and I’d suggest ox tongue rather than calf’s, because the latter is likely to come from a veal animal raised on the continent). Brined and slowly simmered, it’s another example of a special texture – rich and almost pâté-like – that can’t be faked or imitated. I admit, a whole ox tongue looks formidable – it’s so like a giant version of the human equivalent, it forces us to confront the fact that we are, undeniably, consuming what was once a living, chewing beast. But if we can’t deal with that, should we really be eating meat at all? Put another way, if we’re going to raise animals for food, let’s treat them well and waste nothing. Especially not heads and tails.
3.44pm Here’s the league table, right here, right now. Bolton, you’ll see, are up to 12th. Is it time we got off Megson’s back? Without knowing the ins and outs and whether his hair really is that colour naturally, I think he’s done a decent enough job.
In a large casserole over medium-low heat, warm a tablespoon of oil and nuevo teclado tfue the butter. Sauté the onion, thyme and a pinch of salt until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, sauté for five minutes, add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
4.44pm So Stoke, who were six points behind Portsmouth ten minutes ago, are now only three goals behind them. They also, if they win, go above Tottenham who – and you’ll like this – would go fourth from bottom.
“I was very upset about the victims and very angry that a group of people organised themselves and took up arms to force their project on others – and that that was applauded by a part of society,” he said.
* Lissa Evans’s Crooked Heart is published by Black Swan.
The Best of Myles by Brian O’NolanChosen by Ian Martin
Which Brian O’Nolan was funnier – novelist “Flann O’Brien” or columnist “Myles na gCopaleen”? Both were madly futuristic. At Swim-Two-Birds, his masterpiece, has characters conspiring against their author, erupting into the baffled real world as if in some weird Charlie Kaufman movie. The Third Policeman, with its proposition that people and their bicycles are exchanging molecules, one slowly becoming the other, now feels like something the mainstream media might be hiding from conspiracy theorists. However, The Best of Myles, an anthology of satirical columns he wrote for the Irish Times, has been a lighthouse for me since the early 70s, and remains the funniest book I’ve ever read. With swaggering confidence, O’Nolan invents a parallel-reality Dublin in 1940 and then riffs for 26 years, until he dies. It’s a four-dimensional tour de force. There are “regulars”: The Brother, a monstrous chancer; Keats and Chapman, literary dandies with a weakness for puns; and the Plain People of Ireland, a sort of unreliable chorus. It’s a world both banal and absurd, where rogue ventriloquist theatre escorts – and intoxicating ice-cream – cause mayhem. One bloke spends all day cracking a fiendish newspaper crossword just to stroll into a bar in the evening and help an astonished acquaintance “solve” it. This book is a masterclass in how to defy a boring world with mischief.
Cheeks, too, when cooked with care, have a very special grain and yielding succulence. Pig’s cheeks are traditionally turned into Bath chaps – brined, slow-cooked until tender and served as a cold cut – but today’s recipe uses fresh cheeks, which are becoming a more regular feature at good butchers’ and farmers’ markets.
* David Lodge’s The Man Who Wouldn’t Get Up and Other Stories is published by Vintage.
The Just William books by Richmal Crompton
Chosen by Deborah Moggach
There’s a snobbishness in our literary world that equates laughter with shallowness. How untrue that is. There’s nothing shallow about my favourite comic writers – Nora Ephron, Nancy Mitford, Beryl Bainbridge (her description of undignified middle-aged sex in Injury Time strangely lingers). But for me, and I suspect many others, the funniest books of all time are the Just William books.
I suppose they’re for children, and I got hooked on them when I was William’s age, 11, but I still turn to them when I need a rush of joy. It’s a comfort just knowing they’re sitting on my shelves, shabby in their disintegrating jackets, waiting to welcome me back into the world of William, his fellow Outlaws and his suburban family of anxious mother, remote father and mad spinster aunts.
‘Great comedy isn’t heartless – far from it. When we laugh at its protagonists, we also laugh at ourselves’
Deborah MoggachRichmal Crompton was a peerless writer who understood that the basis for comedy is the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how others see us. William’s older brother Robert considers himself to be a suave man about town but what we see is a hapless and humourless young chap, struggling to maintain his dignity, whose efforts to engage with the opposite sex are constantly sabotaged by his infuriating little sibling. Ditto Ethel, the vain and beautiful older sister, who also comes a cropper through William’s often well-meaning efforts to help her or, more often, get himself out of a scrape.
And the most important thing is that we mind about them. Great comedy isn’t heartless – far from it. When we laugh at its protagonists, we also laugh at ourselves. I’m 68, but there’s still a part of me who’s an 11-year-old crashing around the countryside, unwittingly causing mayhem from often the best intentions.