On New Year’s Day 2014 I found myself standing in a blissfully quiet Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, looking at Floris Claesz. van Dijck’s inimitable painting, Still Life with Cheese. A table is draped in a damask cloth with a remarkably lifelike meal set out upon it. Rough-hewn cheese, stacked in rugged halves, forms the centre point. Bowls spilling over with apples, pears and grapes flank the cheese. In the foreground, next to a crusty loaf, lie half an apple on a pewter plate, some cracked nutshells and a curling ribbon of fruit skin.

Looking at Still Life with Cheese made me hungry. I wanted to ...


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