The Montblanc and the recipe

I spotted this recipe yesterday evening, when my wife was preparing her dinner. What’s that, I thought. Why is Montblanc being mentioned in a recipe? Turns out the Montblanc is used to describe the size of the asparagus. I wonder whether the author did this to show off, or whether a Montblanc pen is really a universal thing everyone knows the size of…
Montblanc recipeIn my imagination it happened like this:

Are those recipes ready to be published?


Kind of – there’s one problem with the asparagus and shrimps recipe.


What problem?


It’s about the size of the asparagus. We wrote the size down in cm, but thought it’s odd if people take their tape measure out when  preparing food.


That’s easy, we just describe the size of the asparagus using an everyday object – one we all use on a daily basis. Write down the asparagus should be the size of a Montblanc.


Ah, of course, why didn’t I think of it earlier…

Montblanc recipe

7 thoughts on “The Montblanc and the recipe”

  1. Now that’s odd – as if all cooks not only own a Montblanc but have it also at hand in the kitchen … Maybe the cookery book was sponsored by Montblanc 😉

  2. Interesting find! Maybe I can clear this up a little bit. The first two lines of the excerpt reads “should not pick ones that are too thin. The kind of asparagus like described in Chua Lam’s book Ingredient Diary ‘[page cut off]…Mont-Blanc pen’ is just right”

    So the pen is used to describe the thickness instead of the length. To be fair, the asparagus sold in Chinatown here is often quite thin, Parker jotter kind of thin. I wonder whether or not it’s even the same species as the thick ones.

    The recipe seems to come from someone’s blog and the pen reference is quoting some popular food critic’s book. I can kind of understand the sentiment.

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    Gunther, maybe ;^) …or they thought if there’s something called a ‘pencil skirt’ then there should also be something called a ‘Montblanc asparagus’.

    Claire, thanks for the explanation, I’ll change it. I don’t like asparagus, but coming from an asparagus growing region I mainly know asparagus of the size where you’d have to make considerable use of a peeler to get them to fountain pen thickness – but in supermarkets in the UK I’ve seen the thin ones you’re writing about.

    So the Montblanc comparison is from a popular food critic? Reminds me of a documentary from the artist Grayson Perry – where the middle class confirmed their identity, among other things, by throwing Jamie Oliver cooking parties (a bit like a Tupperware party, but with Jamie Oliver merchandise). Maybe there’s something very middle class about cooking, not only in the UK but also in China …and to confirm your middle class identity you have to show that you know or own a Montblanc, even if you’re not into pens…

  4. I think food, especially delicate (but not necessarily expensive) food is embedded in Chinese culture. There is a big difference between eating and knowing how to eat. A lot of recipe emphasizes how to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. An example would be a regular beansprot is just bean sprout, but if you remove the top and the root, it becomes silver sprout. Interestingly, the recipe actually asked for an vintage Montblanc, which in my impression is a bit thinner than the modern ones. For sure it is a status symbol, though I have told my mom that Pelikan’s stainless writes so much better than the Montblanc I received as a gift 😉

  5. Thanks for this information. I’m not sure how many people can follow a recipe asking for a vintage Montblanc …unless it’s a recipe targeted at pen collectors. I guess the dish will look different depending on whether the cook owns a vintage Montblanc Noblesse or a LeGrand ;^)
    Pelikans are great. Which model is the one you just mentioned?

  6. I only have one Pelikan, which is my M205 Duo the “nuclear” yellow one. I have been meaning to get another Pelikan, but unsure which model I should go for. The higher class Pelikan have tendency to be larger in size too, so I might steer away from that, in addition to the hefty price.

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