“Don’t play with your food!”

This stern injunction has blighted many a child’s teatime as a project for turning sausage and mash into a happy face is scuppered midway. Surely parents remember that playing with food is usually the necessary preliminary to eating it? And of course a class of food exists that turns such parents into hypocrites – food where fiddling about with it is part and parcel of the eating experience. For instance that fantastic vegetable the globe artichoke – the selection of leaves, the swirling in melted butter, the piling of residue, the plucking of the hairy bit – not only is it delicious it is good messy fun, just like food should be sometimes.