Thursday, September 11, 2014

This week's compost

What’s on the Menu?

Well if you were dining at the Menzies in Melbourne on the 7th September 1899 you could have started with Anchoix de Norwerge, followed it with Bouchees de Homard, Victoria, and finished up with Glace a la Vanille and a Cafe Noir, or so I gleaned from this wonderful digitised menu site forwarded to me by Barbara Santich. Can’t wait to trawl through the couple of hundred Australian menus in search of curry.

Gourmet baked beans: a ‘gastronomisation’ too far?
‘You can hear the husky M&S style voiceover in the product description: “Kentish cider, smoked pork collar, pumpkin and sundried tomato”. Naturally, all this luxury (or pomp) comes with a price. While Heinz baked beans currently retail round 50p for a 415g tin (12p/100g), Proper Beans costs a whopping £4.75 for a 330g pot (£1.44/100g). Which is quite a markup.’
Sorry, but you know there is only one comment I can make on this:

Food porn
‘The magazine was one of the most powerful platforms for food writing in the nation and, to the people in line, I was a rock star. My mother, a sensible Ohioan, was with me that night and she was appalled. She stood near as fans gushed admiration for my prose and recipes. Finally, as if unable to contain herself another second, my mother interrupted one woman's compliments and asked: "Do you actually cook that stuff?" "Of course not," replied the customer, who looked like my mother, tall, lean, with a white cap of stylishly coiffed hair. "Every week I cut them out of the magazine and promise myself I will cook them. Don't we all?"
For ten years, Molly O'Neill was a reporter and food columnist for The New York Times. In this 2003 article she makes a plea for food journalists to tackle ‘the difficult and controversial subjects that begin (or end) at the table’. Ta to Helen Greenwood for the link.

Cow and Moon: what it’s like when your local gets ruined
Now this isn’t a manifesto on the evils of gentrification. You’ll have to head to the Saturday paper for that. This is simply about the evils of some bozo pointing out the little jewels that glisten quietly in your suburb. This is no exaggeration, last night the queue for Cow and the Moon gelato shop stretched around the corner and down the street. Every Sydneysider wanting the scoop on the best gelato in the world. You only have to head to the “My Love affair with Newtown” Facebook page to see the pictures. And those pictures burn my soul.’
Between this and the reported movement of the boozed up hordes from Kings Cross to Newtown under the liquor lock up laws I am setting up road blocks on Stanmore Road, Trafalgar Street and other byways into Petersham. We already have people lining up ten deep to get into the bolthole that is Daisy’s Milk Bar since it was nominated for best cafe in the Time Out awards. I don’ t think C & M would appreciate my other idea which was to take harangue the crowd with a megaphone chanted WAAAAAANKERSSSSS!!! But, hey, it won’t be long before the next big thing comes along and Enmore and I can settle down to moo(n)ching at C & M.

Maggie Beer in crusade to improve food for aged care residents
‘HIGH-PROFILE cook and author Maggie Beer has launched a campaign to improve the food provided to elderly Australians in aged-care homes. Ms Beer has teamed with Country Health SA in spearheading a push to improve the food served in regional aged care facilities in SA.’
It ain’t going to be easy but gees I hope she makes some inroads. I recall the afternoon when I was with my mum around lunch time at her nursing home when as it not unusual for her she didn’t want to eat the overcooked veg and coagulated gravy on her plate. An Aged Care Assistant came in to give mum a pill, and asked mum whether she was going to eat or not. Mum said no. The Assistant then said ‘If I were you I wouldn’t be eating it either’, and went on her way leaving me gobsmacked (pun intended). In the lift for some time there was a terrifying notice identifying all the food they didn’t want us to bring in for our rellies on the grounds thay we might also be brining in nasties. Needless to say I’ve been ignoring it for the 6 or 7 years mum’s been in care. Whenever I get my act together and take mum just a simple bowl of takeaway Chinese fried rice or some rice and dhal and a bit of meat curry not a single grain is left.                                                                                                                                            

Big Food with a regional flavour: how Australia’s food lobby works
‘And don’t succumb to the temptation of reading corporate influence along party lines. Australian governments since the 1980s have been bipartisan in their faith that a thriving market economy can address most social ills. The food industry’s preferences are in keeping with the broader trend for governments from both sides of politics to favour deregulation of business as a default. AFGC arguments about “easing the burden of regulation” fall on fertile ground, while calls to regulate industry influence or protect public health struggle to get a hearing.’
A sketch of three key ways the Australian Food and Grocery Council makes sure the food industry continues to reap huge profits while putting the health of Australians at increasing risk. But what are the options for action given these scenarios?

Texas official is freaking out about school ‘Meatless Mondays’

‘“Restricting children’s meal choice to not include meat is irresponsible and has no place in our schools," Staples wrote. "This activist movement called ‘Meatless Monday’ is a carefully orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week -- starting with Mondays.’

Damn right! Guns have a place in schools not vegetarians!

Step inside the knitchen

‘Knitters have transformed the foyer of the Warwick Art Gallery into a kitchen "entirely knitted, crocheted, felted, woven, and wrapped in yarn," said gallery director Karina Devine. "It's our knitchen!"’

As a knitter and a foodie I am in awe of this. 50 knitters over 7 months

Saturday, August 30, 2014

This week's compost

Gourmet Food and Drink Quiz
Well that’s what it says on the lid of a pressie a friend bought me anyway of a set of cards in a little tin. So just for fun, I thought for the next several editions of TWC I would post a question at the start and the answer at the end.
No peeking now! And now resorting to on-line or print sources. Just have fun seeing if you know the answer already J

NB: NO discussions will be entered into on the correctness or otherwise of the answer. Well, only if you can cite references. Otherwise ‘The tin hath spoke’.

Ques: The earliest archaeological evidence for the consumption of soup dates back to 6000BC – what flavour was it?


‘The growing interest in fermented foods has been fueled by a large number of excellent how-to guides. But information on why fermentation happens and the microbiology behind these artisan foods is generally hard to access. This site is a forum for the synthesis and distribution of current knowledge and research on the microbiology of fermented artisan foods.’

For the germ nerds among us J

Breakfast Downgraded from ‘Most Important Meal of the Day’ to ‘Meal’

‘This week health columnist Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times did the slapping with science, reporting on two new nutrition studies. She concluded, "If you like breakfast, fine; but if not, don’t sweat it."’

I feel so relieved I can out myself as a non breakfast eater at last, even a tad smugly. I am never really hungry till mid morning at the earliest and mostly can happily wait till lunch to have anything more than a piece of fruit. I did eat breakfast as a school kid but once I hit uni my natural instinct kicked in and I haven’t looked back since. However, I feel weirdly compelled to eat something for brekkie when it is part of B & B travelling for work or on hols. I protest, however, that this does not suggest that I don’t do brekkie at home because I am lazy. There is something about being different when away from home that makes breakfast okay.

Creative Food Art

Hopefully you can access the pics of the stunning work of Sarah Illenberger.

Guerilla Grafters

‘The [Guerrilla Grafters] graft fruit bearing branches onto non-fruit bearing, ornamental fruit trees. Over time, delicious, nutritious fruit is made available to urban residents through these grafts. We aim to prove that a culture of care can be cultivated from the ground up. We aim to turn city streets into food forests, and unravel civilization one branch at a time.’

Oh, I sooooooo want to do this....

Gourmet Food and Drink Quiz Answer: Hippopotamus

Friday, August 22, 2014

This week's compost

1.      The Szathmary Culinary Cookbooks and Manuscripts digital collection Iowa University

A friend put me onto this site – an absolute delight J

Any of you out there know other digital cookbook and manuscript sites?

2.      Farmers of the Urban Footpath

If you haven’t come across the Issue site before it’s a treasure trove of online mags and books like this one to which Colin Sherringhan alerted me.

3.      The Foodies Interactive Table
‘Our food journey often begins at the table. Many of us do not know the full journey of the food we are about to consume. We have once again created an interactive tablecloth, which will help us consider some of these food related questions, as well as being a fun piece of technology to explore. Try out our interactive tablecloth setting and not just play with your food but also the tableware!’
Slow Food Sydney are putting this event on. The last time I interacted with a tablecloth my mother gave me a good smack across the head. I hope the outcome will be different at this event.

4.     The science of making mind-blowing cocktails

"When we start to work on a drink, we first create the narrative," says Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row in north London. The idea is storyboarded as though it's a piece of theatre, which in a way it is.”

Call me old fashioned or call me just an old whisked sourpuss but I come from the school where it was the customer who did the narrative while the bartender listened, and a drink that listed its ingredients as "distilled clay, flintstone and lichen" sounds very like the mud soup I used to make as a kid in Sri Lanka. But then my brothers and I in our pre teens went through a period of making ‘cocktails’ by putting salt and pepper into bottled fizzy soft drinks so who am I to cavil.

5.      Strengthening food security in Australia and beyond
‘Good food and nutrition are fundamental to individual wellbeing and healthy communities. Delivering sufficient, safe and nutritious food in a sustainable manner to meet the requirements of a growing human population is one of the world’s greatest challenges. By focusing on good nutrition and the interrelationships between farmers, traders, regulators, consumers and policy makers to determine policies and food systems, this seminar provides insights into how our team is contributing to the delivery appropriate, sustainable, diverse and nutritious diets in Australia and globally. ‘
Looking forward to this talk from Assoc. Prof Robyn Alders particularly to hear what is being done here in Australia.
6.      Fighting bull beef: “The most ecological meat in the world”
‘Restaurateur Juanlu Fern├índez in no way supports bullfighting, but believes that using the byproduct – the meat – is important, likening it to supporting Andalusian winemakers. "We are in a struggle to defend Andalusian gastronomic culture and recipes against the extreme modernity that is invading us," he says.’
The title of the article is patently absurd and there is nothing in the article to support the contention. Indeed, it isn’t even actually abou eating the carcase of bulls killed in the ring, though it does say that in its earliest days as an adjunct to cattle fairs the bulls killed were ‘used to feed the town as part of the fiesta, providing a rare opportunity for poor rural communities to eat beef.’ What the article is about is people valorising the taste of the meat of cattle being bred as fighters but who don’t make the grade and so are sold for their meat, the enhanced quality being ascribed to their ‘better lifestyle’. Sounds like a lot of rubbish to me and that what ishappening is more faux gourmets being able to flaunt their ‘transgressive’ edge. You don’t have to be breeding bulls for fighting in order to givbe those bulls a ‘better lifestyle’ pre their slaughter.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This week's compost

1.      Sweet Treats from Ada de la Harpe

Ada was my grandmother and I am chuffed that three of her recipes were selected for inclusion on Sweet Treats from Around the World, K & T Roufs, ABC-Clio, July 2014.
Ada de La Harpe's Christmas Cake (Sri Lanka)
(Courtesy of her grandson, Paul van Reyk, from The Recipe Book of Ada de la Harpe, a Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher Woman, 2013. Sydney, Australia: Privately Published, pp. 95-97. Accessed July 27, 2013.
This is an adaptation of the transcription of Ada de La Harpe's Christmas Cake recipe provided by Paul van Reyk. For a beautiful facsimile version of the original from Ada's "Cookery Book" see van Reyk (2013), pp. 95-97.

Ada de La Harpe's "Singapore Pudding," and Sago Pudding (Sri Lanka)
(Courtesy of her grandson, Paul van Reyk, from The Recipe Book of Ada de la Harpe, a Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher Woman, 2013. Sydney, Australia: Privately Published, p. 100. Accessed July 27, 2013.)

Ada de La Harpe's "Sweets" (Sweetened "Cajunuts" [Cashews], Sri Lanka)
(Courtesy of her grandson, Paul van Reyk, from The Recipe Book of Ada de la Harpe, a Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher Woman, 2013. Sydney, Australia: Privately Published, pp. 99-100. Accessed 27 July 2013.)

2.      Asian Food Heritage Project

Dear all, I have become involved in this project (ta Jean J )which is only at the inception stage of putting together a proposal for project funding. The basic thrust is to do for Asian and South Asian food material what is being done more thoroughly in recent years for foods of Europe and the Americas. I am looking for any leads any of you have for anyone in academe or otherwise doing research or projects around identifying heritage foods in South Asian and Asian foods and/or preserving/propagating etc. Happy to send more info to those interested though the parameters of the project are still being refined.

But mainly as I am not in academe and so have bugger all wherewithal to do the kinds of searches that might prove fruitful, I am hoping some of you may have 6 or less or even more degrees of separation from people who I might get onto. David Thompson is already in the fold.

3.      Are broccoli stalks the next kale?

‘If you're looking for tomorrow's hot ingredients—and today's top values—start with the compost bin. How different foods go from trash to treat to trite.’

Ta to Helen Campbell for finding this article. Most of you know wasting perfectly edible and indeed delicious bits of animals, fruit and veg has  been a bugbear of mine for some time so it’s great to see any article that promotes people repurposing pre-compost. One of my treasured gifts is a copy of Tasty Dishes from Waste Items by Argona Reejhsingani published in India in 1973 which often provides inspiration as I stare at the waste on my kitchen table. The things she does with vegetable peels alone are dazzling.

4.      Gut reaction Part 1

Thrilling first part of a two part Catalyst program looking at one of my favourite subjects - gut bacteria, and in this program how changing diet changes the gut bacteria profile and may well change your health. Oh, and a lot of it is filmed in my new favouritest Sydney building, the Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney Uni which I have only so far seen from outside but will now hurry and go into and marvel at its interior used to stunning effect as a stand in for the gut itself.

5.      Duopoly Money

“No other country in the world has as large a percentage of its dry groceries market controlled by two chains’, says (Nick) Xenophon. “We have been bums to allow that to happen.”

This article by Malcolm Knox in The Monthly August 2014 is an excellent expose of ‘Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination’. I thought I knew all there was about it but gees I was wrong. I had no idea of the extent to which their ‘vertical’ integration has led to them dominating so many other sectors than food distribution. It not matter to some of you, but I am shocked to know that Wesfarmers which owns Coles also owns Bunnings the mega hardware store that has in the last months become the ONLY hardware option for many of us in the Inner West as our local stores close down. Given Bunnings has a growing garden section I am worried about how long some of the small independent nurseries are going to be able to hold out also.