Hester the chef likes to mop up his gravy with a tampon. Here’s another use for one. Or, a few trade secrets about a fancy food shoot that I didn’t know I knew.

Funny the things writers squirrel away: sayings, anecdotes, strange images, detailed biogs of little-known people. Hey, you never know when you might need that. What’s it like to embalm someone? Keep that cutting. What’s feverfew good for? File that article on herbal remedies.

So, just now, looking for an empty folder to put my annual accounts into in order to give my accountant the impression I am organised and in control of my finances, I pull out a folder and what do I find in it? A list of ways to make things look like something else. If you’re a budding film-maker, you’ll find this fascinating. If you’re already a film-maker, you’ll bin it.

Anyway, here goes.

How do you create the impression of steam coming off food?

Get a tampax, set fire to it, dampen it down then shove it in under the sprouts. Steam!

How do you make a pasta dish look like it’s filled right up to the top – without expending a lot of money on pasta no one will eat afterwards?  Fill the dish with mashed potatoes and just top up with pasta.

A full  bowl of lasagne? Build up with layers of 5 mm foam board, spoon or pipe in meat and sauce, brown top layer with blowtorch then pour over tomato sauce. Looks delicious.

Carry in a flaming Christmas pud that doesn’t go out before the festive table is reached? Use meths. ( Don’t try this at home.)

Other useful things to know: Talcum powder on unlit charcoal looks like ash.

Use PVC wood glue on cereal to look like milk. No matter how long the shoot goes on, the cornflakes won’t turn mushy.

Now you know how they do it. But would you want to eat it?

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