Thanksgiving: what’s the big deal?

 

Thanksgiving

I’ve never understood Thanksgiving. Or to be more accurate, as a “Brit”, even though I’ve visited the USA many times, worked with American colleagues and have many American friends, I have never been able to fathom why the Thanksgiving holiday is such a major event, possibly even eclipsing Christmas in its national importance and observance.

I’ve read about the origins of Thanksgiving, the debate about how it came to be, the influence of the English reformation and the puritans, the possible connections with the Dutch concerning the siege of Leiden (1573), the suggestion that the holiday has its roots with the early pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, fabled tales of feasts between pilgrims and Native American Indians, the Unionist rationale for fixing the date and so on. But nothing really explains why Thanksgiving has the national importance and significance that it does. Other countries have Thanksgiving holidays, but on the whole they are celebrated to a lesser extent than in the USA. Is it a holiday that exists solely to give thanks for the Harvest? In a country as vast as the USA surely harvest time varies depending on where people live and therefore so would their periods of thanksgiving. It is certainly nothing like a traditional harvest festival in Britain which, while a notable Christian celebration (particularly in rural farming communities like mine), is not a national holiday nor as major an event as Thanksgiving – maybe it should be. Harvest has it’s place in Thanksgiving – that much is clear – but it appears to be much more than a glorified harvest festival. And maybe it is because of that, that the religious and secular observance of the holiday is united.

If I’m honest, I am actually a little envious of Thanksgiving. From my observers perspective it seems to be a holiday that has retained a genuine meaning, relevance and significance that transcends belief systems (although what that meaning is founded on is still unclear). Of course it has it’s commercial elements – I’ve been to the Thanksgiving sales – but at its heart Thanksgiving seems to be a holiday of, well, Thanksgiving. I’m not sure it really matters that much what you are giving thanks for, whether it is the harvest, your family, home, community, and friends, maybe it’s giving thanks for your country and your freedoms.

It doesn't really matter what you are giving thanks for

It doesn’t really matter what you are giving thanks for (image courtesy of gallery hip.com)

 

In Great Britain, despite our long and vast history, we actually do not have a day like Thanksgiving, nor for that matter do we have a day like Independence Day; it would be a whole other discussion to look at the make up of the holidays in Great Britain and their origins, but we do not have a day where we celebrate who we are, or a day that we give over to giving thanks. As British citizens I fear that we may be morally poorer for a lack of a Thanksgiving celebration; for we too have much to give thanks for.

So tomorrow, when my usually hectic afternoon of telephone calls and video conferences with my US colleagues will be strangely quiet, I will pause for a moment and make sure that I give thanks for the things that I might otherwise take for granted. I will of course also enjoy the peace and quiet (maybe I should give thanks for that too!).

To all my American friends, colleagues and readers, I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

A Cooking Trilogy: Part Three

“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”

Nothing could be more true than this quote from Julia Child, so many times I have started to prepare a meal and realised that I have underestimated the required size of the pan, casserole or serving dish. It is a rule that certainly turned out to be true of this particular recipe once I had scaled it up to feed three hungry people!

Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon Pie – adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson

Ingredients – quantities are scaled up from the original, as well as the proportions being tweaked a little and substituting some alternatives to the original.

6 rashers of smoky bacon – I prefer the leaner back bacon, but streaky bacon adds a little more flavour due to the higher fat content. As an alternative, for those who don’t eat bacon I use  Quorn “bacon” slices.

A lug of garlic olive oil

250g chestnut mushrooms (don’t be tempted to go for button mushrooms, they won’t add enough flavour)

A knob of butter

400 – 500g skinless chicken breasts

50g of plain flour (I use a gluten free rice/potato flour)

2 teaspoons of dried thyme

550ml of chicken stock – if using bacon I use a knorr stock cube as it is less salty and the bacon itself adds enough salt, however if using Quorn instead of bacon I use oxo cubes which are saltier (the Quorn is not very salty)

2 tablespoons (30mls) of Marsala – well to be honest, that’s what the recipe says, but I always “add one for luck” – so really its 45mls!

Approx. 600g of potatoes that will mash well, I use Maris Pipers

Salt and pepper for seasoning

There is quite a bit of preparation with this pie, but it’s all very straightforward. Allow 30 minutes for preparation time and about 40 minutes for cooking.

Preparation

Prepare the following before you cook anything:

Slice the bacon into 2cm pieces

Thinly slice the mushrooms

Cut the chicken breasts into 2-3cm pieces

Prepare the chicken stock

Peel and cut up the potatoes and put onto boil in lightly salted water

Pre-heat your oven to 200C

Cooking

Now you are ready to start cooking:

Firstly, tip the flour and the thyme into a large freezer bag, add the chicken pieces, close the bag and shake until the chicken is coated in the flour and thyme.

Shake the chicken, flour and thyme in a freezer bag

Shake the chicken, flour and thyme in a freezer bag

Put a lug of garlic olive oil in a deep frying pan, bring the heat up and fry the bacon pieces, once they start to crisp add the mushrooms and stir in with the bacon until they start to soften. Add the knob of butter, allow it to melt and then tip in the chicken. Adjust the heat to medium. Stir until the chicken has coloured on all sides – this just means so that the chicken as whitened on the outside. At this stage you get the lovely aroma of the thyme as it is heated.

Cook the chicken with the bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to colour

Cook the chicken with the bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to colour

Now pour the chicken stock into the pan, and add the Marsala (there’s always a little Marsala left on the spoon, so it’s chef’s privilege to lick it!). Stir thoroughly, bring the heat up so that the stock just comes to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, or until what is effectively a gravy begins to thicken – and that’s the consistency to aim for, a typical gravy thickness. At this stage, if you have used the Quorn bacon substitute, add salt and pepper to season – only a little pepper is necessary if you have used ordinary bacon.

While the pie filling is simmering away, mash the potatoes which should be cooked by now, a little butter will help to create a smooth mash.

Add the chicken stock and Marsala

Add the chicken stock and Marsala

Once the gravy is at a thickness that suits you, pour the mixture into a large oven proof pie dish, ensuring that the contents are evenly mixed. Then layer the mashed potato over the top of the filling, using a fork to create nice tram-line patterns on the top. You should have enough potato for it to be around 0.25-0.5cm depth. The original recipe uses a puff pastry topping and smaller pie dishes, but we prefer the potato version.

Put the pie filling into a large pie dish

Put the pie filling into a large pie dish

Now place the pie in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the gravy is just bubbling up the sides and the potato has just started to go crisp on top.

Add the potato topping and cook until crisp with gravy bubbling through

Add the potato topping and cook until crisp with gravy bubbling through

This dish looks, and smells, impressive when placed in the centre of your table (on a heat proof surface) – then just watch your diners dive in and come back for seconds! Serve with a few vegetables of your choice. This recipe serves three if you are all very hungry, but is good for four particularly if served with a number of side dishes of vegetables.

Why I like this recipe

It is another simple recipe, that produces impressive results

It is a great sharing meal – there’s nothing better than a big pie in the middle of the table for everyone to dive into.

It is a great winter warmer and what we call “comfort food” – it just makes you feel warm and full inside, and tastes delicious.

Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a few days and reheated in the microwave (my daughter has been known to have it for breakfast the following morning!).

It can also be easily frozen. I will sometimes make an excess so that we have a serving or two to freeze. If using from frozen, defrost throughly and then cook in the oven at 200C for at least 30 minutes.

Finally I like this recipe because this is the end result:

All gone!

All gone!

That’s the end of my cooking trilogy, but as so many people seem to have enjoyed these recipes I will do another one in a few months time after I have experimented with a few more creations!

A Cooking Trilogy: Part Two

“Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder”

(From “Return of the King”, by J.R.R.Tolkein, spoken by Gandalf)

Tempura Prawns with Gluten-free Batter – based on a recipe by Nigella Lawson

If there is one TV cook who I follow more than any other it is Nigella, and a personalised signed copy of “Nigelissima”, from which this recipe is adapted, is a prized possession. I am sure that she would approve of the quote above, and it rings very true with me because it is not just the cooking that I enjoy, it is the pleasure that the food I have prepared brings to others, and (perhaps rather vainly) secretly enjoying their praises, especially if the dish is a surprise. This particular recipe is a favourite of my wife and daughter, and they always make comments along the lines of “you couldn’t get better in a posh restaurant”.

The key to this recipe is making a light and airy batter – which is pretty simple to do. I make mine with a gluten-free rice/potato mix flour, having found that rice flour makes an overly heavy batter. I have also scaled up from the original recipe.

What you need for the batter:

50g of gluten-free flour

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons of olive oil

120mls of warm water (straight from the tap is fine)

What else you need:

Approx. 400g of king prawns (don’t use the small “everyday” prawns, they just don’t hold enough batter to work)

1.5 litres of vegetable oil (I find sunflower oil works well, but I am sure other varieties do too)

Weigh out the flour and then mix in the olive oil. Now slowly add the warm water and begin to whisk (a hand whisk is better for this stage). You will find that the mix gets heavy quite quickly and ends up as a lump in the middle of your whisk, don’t worry, just shake it free, add a little more warm water and it will smoothen out. Keep whisking and adding the water until you have a mixture roughly the consistency of double cream. If you add too much water, just correct by sprinkling in a little extra flour.

Once you’ve achieved the right consistency, stand the mixture to one side. In a separate bowl whisk 2 egg whites until they form firm peaks that hold. You can easily do this with a hand whisk in a few minutes with just 2 egg whites.

Now fold (don’t mix or whisk) the egg white into the flour mixture, making sure to fold in plenty of air. Once done, place in a fridge for at least 30 minutes.

A light and airy batter is the secret to this dish

A light and airy batter is the secret to this dish

 

After about 20 minutes I start to get the vegetable oil ready. Pour about 1.5 litres of oil into a large saucepan so that it is about two-thirds full. Place on a high heat, observing all the safety rules for hot oil i.e. no small children in the kitchen, pan handle pointed inwards, cover your arms and wear covered not open shoes – in the unlikely event of an incident hot oil on bare toes is extremely painful! Okay, safety lecture over!

After about 10 minutes the oil should be ready, check this by dropping a teaspoon of the batter mix into the pan – if it sizzles and browns in about 30 seconds, it’s ready. The oil should be reduced to a steady medium heat now to prevent spitting.

Add a few prawns to your batter mix. Make sure they are covered in the mixture, and then place them gently, one by one, in the oil. I use a long-handled teaspoon for this, which works perfectly. The prawns should take only 1-2 minutes to cook, once the batter is a golden brown remove them with a slotted spoon – I place them in a foil covered, kitchen roll lined, dish to keep them warm. Repeat this process until all the prawns are cooked. If you want to be really “cheffy”, take a few slices of lemon, and some sprigs of parsley and coat them in batter and fry as well.

Coat the prawns in batter using a long handle teaspoon

Coat the prawns in batter using a long handle teaspoon

Cook 4 - 5 prawns at a time

Cook 4 – 5 prawns at a time

Remove cooked prawns with a slotted spoon

Remove cooked prawns with a slotted spoon

 

This is a perfect starter, but we like to make it a main meal – the quantities above make a good sized helping for two people. We serve with a little salad and a drizzle of sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Serve with a little sweet chilli dipping sauce

Serve with a little sweet chilli dipping sauce

 

Why I like this recipe

It’s simple to cook, but the results are impressive.

The diners in our house demolish them in a matter of minutes, and give me lot’s of compliments every time I make them!

It’s a versatile dish as it’s a great starter, really good finger food for a hot buffet, and very filling for a main meal when scaled up.

The batter can be used for coating and deep frying anything – I’ll be experimenting with a few more things in the weeks to come.

As you cook you end up with broken off pieces of batter that you have to take out of the oil, I place these to one side and invoke chef’s privilege and have a nibble while I am cooking!

A Cooking Trilogy: Part One

“ ’Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers”

(William Shakespeare, from Romeo & Juliet)

I like to cook. And I like to write. So I’ve decided to use my next three posts to combine the two. I will provide a favourite recipe, with my own tips and modifications, a few illustrations and the reasons that I enjoy cooking and eating this particular meal.

I love that quote above from Romeo & Juliet, and although there is some subtext to it, the humour from the servant to Lord Capulet is obvious, he means that he can find more cooks by seeing if they will eat their own food, by licking their fingers during its preparation. This particular meal has me licking my fingers while I am making it:

Bubble & Squeak – Original recipe by Jamie Oliver

Take 1kg of good quality potatoes that will mash well, Maris Pipers are ideal. Peel, cut into smaller pieces to reduce the boiling time, and set aside.

Take 600g of mixed root vegetables, I use a combination of swede, carrots, and parsnips. Peel and chop. If you are using swede boil this for 5 minutes on its own, then add the rest of the chopped vegetables along with the potato. Salt the water if you like, but you’ll add seasoning later so not really necessary.

Once boiled sufficiently, so that the vegetables are soft enough to mash, add a handful of chopped curly kale to the saucepan for about a minute.

Now drain the vegetables and allow to steam dry for a few minutes, then mash, don’t be afraid of a few lumps as this will add to the texture. In the meantime, chop a handful of herbs; rosemary, sage and thyme are good, but whatever you have lying around will do. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a deep frying pan, add a generous knob of butter and when melted fry the herbs for a a minute or so.

Boil the vegetables until "mashable"

Boil the vegetables until “mashable”

 

Add the mashed vegetables to the frying pan, mix in the herbs and then flatten the vegetables so they fill the pan in a nice smooth “pancake”. Cook on a medium heat, and mix the vegetables every 3-4 minutes for 15 minutes. Add salt and ground pepper occasionally, and taste to get the seasoning balance just right (any little bits that happen to drop out of the pan pick up with your fingers and lick off!). You’ll find that the vegetables begin to catch the heat and brown on the underside – this is good, and adds to the flavour.

Mash the vegetables

Mash the vegetables

 

After 15 minutes, if you are brave, flip the bubble & squeak like a pancake – I am not brave, so I just invert over another frying pan. At this point the underside should have some nice crispy brown bits, mix these into the bubble & squeak, and repeat the process for a further 15 minutes. Sometimes you might need to add a little more olive oil if the vegetables have absorbed it all.

Flatten and turn in the frying pan

Flatten and turn in the frying pan

Mix and build up the flavours

Mix and build up the flavours

 

You are then ready to serve. Turn the bubble & squeak out onto a plate, allow your diners to cut their own slice and then crown it with a fried egg, yolk nice and runny. Supply plenty of brown sauce.

Ready to serve

Ready to serve

 

This is a perfect winter meal, it is hot and filling and tastes delicious. Any leftovers can be frozen, or just kept in the fridge for 2-3 days and eaten cold or heated – to be honest there is never any left to freeze in our house!

Why I like this recipe. 

It is basic, yet it involves some skill in building up the flavours. And the flavour mix is yours to decide. Each one you cook will be slightly different, as you’ll likely use different vegetables, or different amounts of the same ones. You can be quite creative with what you use.

It looks great when served, especially if you’ve got the right amount of brown bits on the surface.

There is something very British about bubble & squeak, this one is not made with leftovers as a traditional one would be, but it still feels quite authentic.

It is a hunger buster. Make one big enough (scales up easily) and a thick slice is very filling.

It is an easy vegetarian recipe, and can even be made vegan (just leave out the butter and the egg)

It is a great meal for sharing, everyone gets to dive in to get their slice.

It can be served as breakfast, lunch or supper – the choice is entirely yours.

Scraping the pan before you wash it up is the cooks privilege, and you get those crispy bits that stuck.

Coming in my next post: Tempura prawns, made gluten free.

Respectful Remembrance

Today, Sunday November 9th, is Remembrance Sunday – the nearest Sunday to November 11th which is Remembrance or Armistice Day itself. In Great Britain in the weeks leading up to the 11th, the majority of the population will wear a red paper poppy. This is a symbol taken from Flanders Fields – the area during the First World War (WW1) where many bloody battles were fought and where poppies grew. The fields were left unmaintained for years after the war before they became a memorial to those who had lost their lives there. The poppy symbol was derived from a poem “In Flanders Fields” written by a Canadian officer – Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, which begins:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row”

A sea of poppies at The Tower of London

A sea of poppies at The Tower of London

 

This year is particularly poignant as it marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1. To mark that anniversary the ceramic artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper have created a major art installation called “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London. 888,246 ceramic poppies have progressively filled the Tower’s famous moat since the summer; the final poppy will be “planted” on November 11th. The poppies will then gradually be removed and sent to individuals who have sponsored each one.  Each poppy represents a British military fatality during WW1. The names of many of them have been read out each day.

The poppies have encircled the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation was designed to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration (source: Historic Royal Palaces).

The British public as well as thousands of tourists have gathered to see this remarkable piece of artwork.

The Tower of London moat filled with remembrance poppies

The Tower of London moat filled with remembrance poppies

 

But there have been two public discussions that have, in very different ways, distracted from the intent of this artistic act of remembrance. Last week Jonathan Jones, an arts journalist writing for The Guardian newspaper, disrespectfully (in my view) described the poppies as “fake, trite and inward-looking”, he went on to suggest that the “toothless memorial” is overly nationalistic. I’ll deal with some of those objections shortly. Subsequently Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, in a thinly veiled attempt to hijack an act of remembrance to promote tourism, has appealed for the display to be extended beyond the 11th November to allow more people to see it. Other politicians and the tabloid media have also joined this bandwagon. I’ll add more perspective to that too.

What is wrong with both of these very public comments? The article by Jonathan Jones both misjudged the public mood, as well as belittled it, and in an attempt at artistic snobbery his opinions fell spectacularly flat. Jones seems unable to grasp the idea that a memorial can be gracious and dignified whilst still recounting the horrors of WW1, and of all wars since then. Had he taken the time to visit the exhibition inside The Tower, he would have seen the images of war that have fuelled the creation of this piece of living art, he would have heard the voices of those making the poppies who don’t accept an imperfect “second” because each poppy must be perfect as it honours a single person who lost their life. That is hardly trite. Yes, it is nationalistic, and Jones suggested that is a bad thing. What he does not acknowledge is that thousands of overseas visitors will have seen the memorial, will have known what it represents, and have respectfully honoured what it stands for. The remembrance poppy is a national symbol to remind us to remember  all of those who have died in the British forces in all wars, it is our national way of remembering those who fought and died for our freedoms – to that degree it is proudly nationalistic, and always will be.

Boris Johnson on the other hand could perhaps be seen as having his heart in the right place. He has publicly supported the installation, but has now called on the organisers to extend its life beyond 11th November. This too, in my view,  is disrespectful, it puts the promotion of London ahead of the remembrance that is symbolised by the poppies, and seeks to exploit it for further commercial gain. Not to be outdone other political leaders have also added their voices along with a campaign by the right wing newspaper, The Daily Mail, to extend the lifetime of the installation, and even to make it permanent. Even today the Daily Mail has headlines such as “Army top brass salute Mail campaign to keep the Tower poppies blooming”, and in describing this as a “victory” for their campaign they do a major disservice to the memory of those men and women who fought for real victory. These superficial attempts to make popular political capital in the months before a general election are not befitting of the memory of those who died to preserve our freedoms. I find myself hearing the voice of Winston Churchill at these moments, and I have no doubt that he would deride any attempt to politicise such an emotive memorial. The artists, Paul Cummins and Tom Piper clearly agree and have already voiced their opposition to the request, Piper eloquently explains why:

“People have asked why the poppies couldn’t remain there for the whole five years the war lasted, but I think they would lose their impact. For me, it is like a tide that is reaching a full flow. And then it gradually recedes. It should be transient, as were the lives of the people we are celebrating.”

Journalists, art critics, politicians and the media should put aside their daily agenda’s of political and artistic prejudice, and focus on the real meaning of the poppy and of the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” memorial : To remember the fallen. To honour those who gave their lives for our freedoms and liberty.

We, the people, will always remember them.

The Weeping Willow of poppies at The Tower of London

The Weeping Willow of poppies at The Tower of London

 

The pictures I include in this blog of the memorial at The Tower of London were taken by my friend Marshall Manson, the copyright remains his, please ask permission via me if you wish to use them. Thank you Marshall.

I’ll try anything Once

Thursday 30th October 2014. A quick cup of tea in a decidedly dodgy cafe next to The Phoenix theatre, London – a slightly off the beaten track theatre, but on the Charring Cross Road, so still technically “West End”. A three quarters full theatre, despite being half term. What had my daughter and I let ourselves in for I wondered? The musical we were about to see has billed itself as a “revolutionary new musical” – which sounded promising. Something different was certainly going on. As we took our seats the house lights were up, as were the stage lights – no safety curtain in sight. The stage set was a pub bar. It looked convincingly accurate. The stage started to fill with people – yet it was not the scheduled start time. People were chatting on stage, having a drink as the bar, sitting in the seats around the sides, and then someone began to sing, guitars, mandolins and violins began to play – and everyone started having a good time, clapping and tapping their feet to the infectious beat of what I’d probably call Irish folk rock music if I had to give it a label. The audience were allowed onto the stage to mingle with the crew and cast and to even buy a drink at the bar. Different, yes, revolutionary, not really.

As the time approached for the performance to start, the audience were gently ushered off stage, the house lights dimmed slowly and the transition from what was described as a pre-performance hootenanny to the actual performance happened without anyone really noticing. It was as if we were in that pub a moment ago, and now we were observing a scene from a convenient side table.

The stage before the performance begins

The stage before the performance begins

Describing this musical isn’t going to be easy – you’ll have to go and see it to really appreciate it. But broadly it’s appeal and cleverness resides in three main areas, firstly the set itself – it is simple and the set never changes, yet scenes change within it with some clever furniture rearranging and subtle lighting effects. The back of the set is dominated by one large bar mirror, surrounded by many other smaller mirrors arranged haphazardly. The mirrors are what brings each scene to life, as the audience gets an almost 360 degree view of the performance and performers. When instruments are played, we see piano keys reflected when the piano is head on to us, we see the reflected symmetry of the dance routines and snapshots of what the actors are doing throughout the performance which gives you the feeling of both being a little bit of a voyeur, but also of really being there inside that pub as the mirrored images draw you in closer. It’s intimate.

Secondly the music, which is fresh, appealing, with great rhythms and performed with real love – each and every one of the cast could sing, play an instrument with some skill and of course act – I suspect casting was not easy for this musical. Thirdly, the story and the writing itself. The musical is based on the film and is cleverly adapted for stage by Enda Walsh. It is not a complicated story, there are no twists and turns of subplots, there isn’t a long list of characters to keep track of throughout the story. But it is believable. Although it is a story, it isn’t fantasy, this could happen at any time or place in Europe, though based in Dublin it does exude it’s own Irish charm. There are no glib Lloyd-Webber like lyrics and musical “standards”. The music has a raw Irish feel to it, the type of music you want to dance to, the type of music you would dance to in any Irish pub. The same goes for the dialogue, it is earthy and real. There is humour, angst, and love. The story revolves around the main characters ‘Guy’, played by David Hunter (a semi finalist on ITVs “SuperStar in the search for a lead for Jesus Christ Superstar) and ‘Girl’, beautifully played by Jill Winternitz (whose debut was as Baby in Dirty Dancing in the West End) and their love of their music, and their gently growing feelings for each other, though this is no classic love story.

To describe Once as a musical is putting it in the wrong pigeonhole. There is a lot of music, but it doesn’t punctuate the story, because the music is the story, so you are swept along with it. You believe the music, you believe in the soul that is in the music, because it is performed so well and so convincingly. It is hard to believe that what you are watching is acted out several times a week, because it feels so alive and as though the performance is being brought to you for the first time. That possibly stems from the fact that these actor/musicians are simply all in love with music and playing, they are infectiously enthusiastic in their performances and because the entire cast is on stage for most of the performance there is really nowhere to hide – especially with all those mirrors!

I am still not sure I’d class Once as revolutionary, but it was refreshingly different.
As the title of this article says , I will try anything Once – and I would urge anyone to try Once and least once. You’ll come out smiling, singing, maybe jigging – and you’ll almost certainly buy the CD on the way out (avoid the queue and buy it on the way in – you will want it!).