Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This Week's Compost

This week's image is a lovely naive painting a tad hidden in Trattoria da Carlo in Orvieto where I had the second best meals in Italy last year..the best being at Benito Osteria in Rome. Carlo mixes deconstructedish dishes with plain old round the kitchen table ones but all deeply satisfying flavour, texture and visual-wise. I am hoping to get up a foodie excursion to Orvieto for their food and wine festival in October 2016 and am open to expressions of interest in joining me.

Also, if you have anyone you think might like to be on the Compost email list, please direct them my way.

And thanks for contributors to this week's ed.

Food and Words
A shameless plug for Barbara Sweeney’s 4th wonderful fest of food and falderol J Je suis desole that I will not be there this year L

‘I’ve got judges who love them’: in defence of the deep fried Mars bar
‘Birthplace of the World Famous Deep Fried Mars Bar,” the banner announces. It’s vast, proud, and as of this week under threat. Welcome to The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where 20 years ago – so the legend has it – two pupils from the local academy challenged each other to eat a load of random battered stuff, resulting in the Scottish delicacy (or culinary embarrassment, depending on who you talk to) known as the deep-fried Mars bar. Aberdeenshire council refuses to share The Carron’s pride and has demanded the banner’s removal.’
As some of you know, I tried one earlier this year and I LOVED it. Oily, gooey, hot, gushy...everything you want in the worst of indulgence. It needs no defending. And I love someone who is not ashamed to say ‘ “I would draw the line at Minstrels and Maltesers,” he says. “Too small. But other than that, I’ll deep fry anything.”

Faith, Philosophy and Food
‘In these last weeks of Ramadan we hear how those of Muslim and Jewish faith navigate this and how it affects their everyday lives. We also hear from a vegan how her personal ethics have influenced her food choices and the knock-on effect that has had in where she lives and works.’
July 11 ep of Radio National’s Blueprint for Living, The discussion starts at around 53:00. A nicely pitched exploration of the personal and the convivial.
The lunchtime revolution at a school for children with autism
‘He also handles the more refined dietary requests, like those of a 15-year-old boy called Finn who for a long while favoured things that were black, like Oreos and burnt toast. “He used to burn his own toast which would bring the fire brigade,” Ragan tells me. “Now they phone us up when there’s an alarm and ask whether Finn has been burning the toast again.” At lunchtime, Lucio makes the toast for him, gently reducing the level of burn so that now it is merely a shade of brown.’
A truly inspiring story which needs no commentary from me.
Researchers at Oregon State University have found a new seaweed that tastes like bacon and has twice the nutritional value of kale
I am not sure that any vegan I know is hanging out for things that taste like bacon.
I, on the other hand, am TOTALLY hanging out for someone to invite me round for a Bacon Bowl.
Lunch at Dunkin’ Don’t-nuts
Meanwhile in India..I  hope you can open the link...the descriptions of the burgers are more than OTT.
Read this and you’ll never eat a ready meal again
‘Irish authorities were equally shocked to discover that a pizza bearing the label 'country of origin Ireland' in fact contained 35 ingredients that had passed through 60 countries during preparation and packaging.’

Ta to Sarah Benjamin for directing to me to this article. I haven’t eaten a ‘ready meal’ in many many a year and am in no danger of doing so in the near future but already get the chills when I visit my mum in the nursing home and see the gloop she gets some times.
Barbara Sweeney commented on the article in another forum:
‘I don’t think it would be too far from the commercial reality of food manufacturing here. The only reason why it wouldn’t be is scale. I’ve been looking at the increase in heat and serve dishes onside at Woolies in Potts Point and wondering about them - what ingredients are used, how old the ingredients are, have they been irradiated etc. John’s example can’t be compared to the meals referred to in the story, which is more about Lean Cuisine or other packaged meals, which really do look like the dog’s breakfast. Buying someone else home cooked food from a deli is still home cooked food, like eating at a friend’s house. Local food manufacturers would definitely be buying in single components of pre-prepared ingredients - peeled, chopped frozen vegies for example, mashed potato for gratin toppings etc. This specialisation has seen big growth in commercial catering in last few decades. I know that most yogurt and pie makers here – including organic – cannot get enough locally produced fruit purees for their products and so buy in from Europe.’
And John Newton also commented:
‘I remember some years ago a UK ready meal company came bursting onto the scene, promising 'home made goodness in every bite' or some such crap and exited some six months later. For a Short Black piece I asked the company guy what went wrong. He told me the main reason was that most people in Australia can cook, whereas in the UK they couldn't. True or false?’
How Greece’s Debt Crisis Is Impacting It’s Wine Industry
And thanks to Helen Greenwoood for directing me to this article. Interesting info on Greek drinking patterns and alcohol tax system as well as a look at the impact of the financial crisis.
‘One of the large issues looming for Greek wineries, beyond the difficulty of sales, is the approaching harvest. Many wineries are having trouble sourcing the bottles they need from abroad and shipments of bottles can require significant lead time to purchase. With bank transfers out of the country recently on hold, many Greek wineries are wondering if they will have enough bottles for their wine. Winemaker Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gaia Wines notes that most bottle suppliers have stopped delivering, or are requesting to be paid in cash, up-front. This is especially challenging for Greek winemakers like him who make wine in regions, like Santorini, where harvest may be as early as August.’


Saturday, July 11, 2015

This Weeks Compost

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, also has been shown to have wide reaching positive impacts on brain functioning. It causes mild stress to brain cells triggering the production of antioxidant enzymes that hold down free radicals and the accumulation of toxic proteins. Some animal studies also suggest that it may reduce damage from strokes and could help alleviate depression and anxiety (Mattson, Mark What Doesn't Kill You...Scientific American, July 2015). I love that Big Science every now and then finds that old wives or indeed old ayurvedic's tales have some truth in them.

But enough schadenfreude...this week’s pic comes courtesy of Martin Boetz new venture in bringing his Portland farm produce to the Inner West, the frontiers of the IW at that...St Peters! Between this and the Addison Road Markets and popping up the road to see what’s on the quick sale trays at Arcella Fresh up the street I am one very happy urban foodista.

Fork to Fork
Ta to Helen Campbell for directing my attention to this. It will be interesting to see it working.
‘Fork to Fork is a project that aims to provide an online marketplace for the sale
of Tasmanian food. The project is run by
 Sprout Tasmania. Sprout Tasmania is a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting local food producers who would like to get their ideas in the ground, growing and to market’

Green is the new black: the unstoppable rise of the healthy eating guru
‘The wellness blogger is, crucially, photogenic and young, which is why “wellness” looks so much more desirable than it did a decade ago, when it wasGillian McKeith, say, telling us all to eat more fibre. Eat like me, look like me, is the message. Typical photo poses include sitting on a beach lounger in a bikini while drinking from a coconut, or reclining in a rustic kitchen in skinny jeans, a cute porcelain bowl of vegetables in one hand. There are differences, however: some bloggers endorse juice fasts, whereas others scorn juice and compare its sugar content to Coca-Cola; some promote fasting, others advise against. Such subjective disagreements are perhaps inevitable among a profession in which no training is required.’

Depressing reading, the comments included.

Why does food taste different on planes?
‘Taste buds and sense of smell are the first things to go at 30,000 feet, says Russ Brown, director of In-flight Dining & Retail at American Airlines. “Flavour is a combination of both, and our perception of saltiness and sweetness drop when inside a pressurised cabin. Everything that makes up the in-flight experience, it turns out, affects how your food tastes. “Food and drink really do taste different in the air compared to on the ground,” says Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University. “There are several reasons for this: lack of humidity, lower air pressure, and the background noise.”

Also the attitude of the flight stewards has a really really big impact, and who you are sitting next to and how gross it is that they ordered the nasi goreng chicken...But seriously, some fascinating info in here about how being inside a plane plays havoc with your senses generally.

Land of pork and honey
‘At Truck De Luxe, you can while away the hours on a patio that stretches into the street, tucking into a cold beer and a soft pretzel with bacon jam, or its signature pancake tower, which is layered with pulled pork and slathered with maple syrup. In the past five years, Israelis’ passion for pork has blown up, says one of the restaurant’s owners, Ori Marmorstein. And since the pork industry is monopolized by only a few pig farms, mostly in Israel’s northern Arab-Christian area, demand has made pork prices skyrocket almost 100 percent, he says, with some cuts up to about $8 per pound... But at the truck, the staff is quintessentially Tel Aviv: beautiful, hedonistic, blasé, flirty young things who see good food and alcohol not as moments of gratification, but as a way of life. Ignoring the country’s loaded and increasingly depressing political scene is exactly the point, and pork is a means to that escape.’

Okay, you all know I love pork, but why oh why does it have to come in a pulled pork stack smothered in maple syrup. The point of an accompaniment to pork for me is to balance its sweetness with something sour like in a classsic Sri Lankan pork curry where goroka (aka gamboge) makes the fat the more unctuous by its sharpness. Transgression and rebellion via food I applaud, but can we do it with some discernment?

What? Too flippant?

Big Plates Are the New Small Plates
‘At Provision No. 14, the Filipino-style fried suckling pork leg arrives at the table on a silver platter with a  large white-handled knife stabbed in the middle. The upright serrated blade is the chef’s mic drop. It’s the kind of gesture that dares you to question it.’

No, what it does is tell me that the chef is up himself, and the rest of the article just confirms it.

The madness of drinking bottled water shipped halfway around the world
‘Bottled water’s global boom is arguably driven by fear, firstly among developing world consumers who worry about water quality from the tap, and secondly among developed world consumers about the health impacts of sugary drinks.’

It has been one of the most successful unnecessary campaigns in years, get us to (a) drink more water per se and (b) drink bottled water. Such a frisson still when to the inevitable questoin of do I want still or sparkling water I answer ‘tap water’.

Curry on cooking: how long will the UKs adopted national dish survive?
Salim’s restaurant, which he has owned for 15 years, is one of thousands comprising the £3.6bn Indian restaurant industry in Britain. It is a quirk of colonialism, globalisation, and modernisation that a curry has become as synonymous with British culinary culture as fish and chips. But in Conservative Britain – where the attitude toward migrants is becoming increasingly and explicitly hostile – this culinary mainstay is in sharp decline not due to lack of demand, but to a lack of skilled chefs. 

Well, that’s it. The end of Empire and God Save the Queen and all who sail in her. Look, if this means the end of crap Bangladeshi curry, rejoice all ye say I.

Oh, all right, the article has some excellent points to make about the nature of the labour market at this end of the food sector not only in the UK but generally in Western economies and the abuse of labour arguments in anti-immigration polemic and politics. Mind you there is also a thead of neo-imperialism in all of this curry-national-dish-exploitation-of-former-colonial-serfs that isn’t canvassed,

Monday, June 22, 2015

This Week's Compospt

Had the opportunity to watch the entire 6 eps of Chefs’ Table via Netflix. The stand out for me was Francis Mallman, who I have never heard about, but who convinced me that a frozen island in the middle of Patagonia is where I need to go and eat. No fiddly fuddly micro leaves and petals in mini splodges in mid plate. Nah. My fondest image is of Mallman crucifying the carcasses of three beeves and sticking them in the snow in front of a roaring fire. Or it may also be several chooks suspended by strings from a sapling dome smoking. Or even the brilliance of a smashed Andean pumpkin that has emerged out of the Argentinean version of a hangi. The others all come across as, dare I say it, prissy; the exception here being Massimo Bottura and maybe that’s my prejudice for his food over the others, but he had less bullshit and agonising and needing to psychpatholigise than the others. I think basically I am sick to death of chefs who keep yakking on about how their food has to be an expression of themselves versus actually being about conviviality and sustenance.

The other series I have delighted in of late is Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection on SBS on Fridays. I have to admit to a total soft spot for all the series I have seen of Heston’s because of their combination of erudition, humour, and inventiveness.

I’m also enjoying Susan Parham’s new book Food and Urbanism. The Convivial City and a Sustainable Future. In her words ‘This book  explores the complex ways that food and cities interconnect through urbanism: the study of the art of building cities.’ It’s a survey of the changes in the spatial positioning of growing, marketing, cooking and consuming food working out from the kitchen table to the food region reaching as far back as written records and archaeological digs will take her focusing mainly on European, US and Australian studies (Jean Duruz it’s lovely to see you cited every several pages J ) but including material from Asia where it is available. She’s excellent on tracking the shifts toward and away from and then back toward small scale arrangements, and again the informal to the formal and back to the informal again, and the forces that have driven the changes. I’ve just finished her look at Food’s Outdoor Room, meaning markets in their many forms including and I am walking with her now through The Gastronomic Townscape of food precincts and eat streets. It’s already has me looking at the spaces I move through on my daily feeding differently; a whole new dimension to the term foodways for me to explore.

What climate change will do to your loaf of bread
‘AgFace leader Glenn Fitzgerald said the effect of high carbon dioxide  on grains is complex. On the one hand, it makes plants such as wheat and canola grow faster and produce greater yields but, on the other hand, they contain less protein. Elevated carbon dioxide also alters the ratio of different types of proteins in wheat, which, in the case of bread, affects the elasticity of dough and how well a loaf rises.

Give me protein and elasticity over high yield anytime.

Smashed avo anyone?: Five Australian creations taking the world by storm
Can you guess which other  ones?

‘Try to describe Australian cuisine to a visitor and you’re likely to struggle a little. But there are some dishes that as a nation we recognise as quintessentially Australian – and they’ve started to pop up on menus from Brixton to Brooklyn.’

Let the debates begin on which is or is not Australian – Dr Newton I turn first to thee.

Burger wars: the battle of the beef patties
‘Among the new entrants to the market are Grill'd​, Mary's, Chur Burger Express, Burger Project, Burger Edge, Burger Shed, Ribs & Burgers, Burger Bro? and Melbourne's Brother Burgers. That doesn't include the numerous pubs that offer their own versions as a drawcard. Giving the sector even more power is that these are run by an array of top chefs, including Neil Perry, Luke Powell (ex-Tetsuya's) and Warren Turnbull, among many others. Property agents say the backing of these top-shelf foodies has meant they know all about the real estate business and have exact locations in mind... Other operators such as The Pantry and Trunk Diner have created high-quality burgers that provide customers with a premium experience within a casual dining offering. ’
Give me a thick bun with lashings of butter, grilled onions, a good everyday mince pattie, some slices of canned beetroot and a leaf or two of iceberg lettuce that I can carry away in a greaseproof paper wrap and eat one hand while I walk or sit with mates in the park...but save me from a ‘premium experience within a casual dining offering’ at a price that will compete with my mortgage.
The pic this week is of a beef brisket bun from The Counter in Audley Street, Petersham

The 4 Ways People Rationalise Eating Meat
And in more news from the meat eat front, Helen sent me this.

‘This combination — eating meat while being opposed, in principle, to the acts that are required for meat-eating to take place — suggests that omnivores come up with psychological ways to justify their dietary habits.’

In case you wonder, I fit firmly into the fourth rationale – ‘it’s nice’.

Stop Romanticising Your Grandparents’ Food
‘In short, Laudan has delivered an evocative corrective to the culinary romanticism that pervades our farmers markets and farm-to-table culinary temples. Yet her "plea for culinary modernism" contains its own gaping blind spot. If Laudan's "culinary Luddites" feast on tales of an imaginary prelapsarian food past, she herself presents a gauzy and romanticized view of industrialized food.

A short critique of Rachel Laudan’s Plea for Culinary Modernism (see Compost May 30 at my blog

In praise of fast food
‘Of course, all of this is in sharp contrast to the brutalist fast-food culture that has risen up since Ray Krok wed standardized burger-and-fries production to the post-war expansion of car ownership. But the corporatized vision of fast food, as embodied by global powerhouses McDonald’s and Yum Foods, represents a mere tick of the clock in the long and mostly proud history of fast food.’

I think we have to find some other term for most of what Philpott talks about here, and what Laudan also talks about. A meat pie from a bakery shop is not fast food as far as I am concerned nor is a good snag sanger from at the footy nor a bowl of pho whipped up in a road side stall in Hanoi nor a naan with mutton curry on some dusty road in Gujarat. Street food doesn’t fit across the whole of these examples either. Convenience food would be a good term if it also were not so debased now.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

This Week's Compost

Trawling through some photos of a Hong Kong trip for a friend I came across this one of steamed sweet buns. Yes, I ate one and lived.

This Guy is Crocheting Food Hats and It’s Awesome
Toothsome, I would have said J

Wicked fat
‘I’m a historian and I don’t predict the future, but historians will say that in an area like this, it’s not likely that any current state of affairs will persist forever. When it comes to present-day views of fat, of cholesterol, of fiber, of sodium, etc., it’s only prudent to expect change. The historian knows that views of food and eating have always been subject to change, and the historian is hard-pressed to see why such change should cease.’

A follow up to last Compost’s article about culinary modernism and religion via Helen Greenwood.

Smog meringues
In any case, our hope is that the meringues will serve as a kind of “Trojan treat,” creating a visceral experience of disgust and fear that prompts a much larger conversation about the aesthetics and politics of urban air pollution, as well as its health and environmental effects. Eat at your own risk!’

I love this – quirky, technically clever as, and a terrifically direct way to raise the issue of air pollution particularly with the growth in outside dining. I wonder what Sydney smog meringues would taste like?

The inefficiency of local food
Forsaking comparative advantage in agriculture by localizing means it will take more inputs to grow a given quantity of food, including more land and more chemicals—all of which come at a cost of carbon emissions.’

I’ve read other articles on this pointing out that some food grows best and most sustainably in particular conditions and hence geographies. I am not an unthinking supporter of the food miles concept in that regard. I like my access for example to tropical fruit that will not grow in Sydney except in hothouses potentially massively inefficiently created power and landwise. In this as in other areas of foodways all is down to the negotiations and compromises we make to live within some ethical and healthful framework while also working to change the systemic failings where we can.

A culinary modernist reader: Volume One: Opening salvos
And continuing the discussion on culinary modernism Colin alerted me to this site which looks worth engaging with.

It’s raining lamb chips and pizza: the problem with sending food into space
‘There has been a cloud-bound can of Coors Light, a curry-house lamb chop sent into orbit by a novelist, a congealing pizza flung into the sky by an NYC electronic band, and a burger from a London delivery business that hoped to publicise its ability to deliver a meal by firing it in the opposite direction to all human life. Plus, there was a brewery that decided to create an imperial stout by shooting yeast into space.’

Yep, just what we need, a whole new class of space junk(food).

The naked chef? Chimpanzees can ‘cook’ and prefer cooked food  - study
‘A study found that chimpanzees prefer the taste of cooked food, can defer gratification while waiting for it and even choose to hoard raw vegetables if they know they will have the chance to cook them later on. The findings suggest that our earliest ancestors may have developed a taste for roast vegetables and grilled meat earlier than previously thought, potentially shifting the timeline for one of the critical transitions in human history.’

MasterChimp – bring it on!!! Notice I did not make a terrible joke about the apes in the kitchens around hipster cafes.

Drinking an ethical cup of coffee; how easy is it?
Fairtrade Foundation standards do not regulate wages if a smallholder employs less than a “significant number” of workers, which is generally interpreted to mean 20. If they employ fewer than 20, they aren’t even required to pay the legal minimum wage. This controversy is important, firstly because it shows how far we have come. Fairtrade is now firmly established on our supermarket shelves - a huge achievement not only for the organisation but also for the campaign groups that started the label in the late 1980s. If Fairtrade was only accrediting niche ethical products, the story wouldn’t have had the media pick up that it has. Secondly, it will ultimately help Fairtrade improve what they do. A statement at the time said, “We welcome this focus on the low wages that persist among too many agricultural workers, particularly those who carry out informal work and who are very hard to reach.”

It occurred to me on reading this that I have seen little discussion about the integral role of the informal economy in countries like PNG and how this intersects with calls for minimum wages.  That is, can the informal economy which currently provides some income for a large proportion of those able and willing to work continue if the push for minimum wages extends into small scale, episodic or seasonal work within it. Has anyone come across any material on this issue?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Week's Compost

I Wish I Could Sell You a $200 Wooden Spoon
‘I want Ariele Alasko's discipline. I want her world. And I want the kind of life, the financial confidence, the guts, that it takes to make a $200 spoon.’

Me...not so much. I have some lovely wooden spoons that I like using they are pictured above on a marble slab. All of them I am pretty sure were hand crafted. All of them are functional and I am not afraid to use them, their beauty notwithstanding. None of them cost $200.

A Plea for Culinary Modernism
‘The (Culinary) Luddites’ fable of disaster, of a fall from grace, smacks more of wishful thinking than of digging through archives. It gains credence not from scholarship but from evocative dichotomies: fresh and natural versus processed and preserved; local versus global; slow versus fast: artisanal and traditional versus urban and industrial; healthful versus contaminated and fatty. History shows, I believe, that the Luddites have things back to front.’

I like much of the myth busting and grounding in this article but I also think the some of the arguments misrepresent the positions of those who undoubtedly would fall into the author’s Culinary Luddite camp  - Michael Pollan for one, Alice Waters, and, often, me. I don’t think outside of the raw foodists anyone is advocating for not processing grains, vegetables, fruit, or meat, nor for preserving them – smoked, dried, cured, jarred, canned or otherwise. I don’t have any absolute objection to industrial practices for processing or preserving. I do have objections to purely market driven practices that put crap in food to make it taste sweeter, or fattier, or dumb down food knowledge under the guise of convenience. Equally I have concerns for industrial practices that are dangerous to mental and physical well being of those engaged in them and that do not pay fair wages, and I find it curious from that perspetive that this article is in Jacobin which describes itself as ‘a leading voice of the American Left, offering a socialist perspective on politics, economics and culture’ and at no point examines the labour issue in current industrial and commercial foodways.

What Master Chef teaches us about food and the food industry
So while MasterChef might teach us a lot about food and food trends, it also glosses over some of the harsher realities of the industry that produces this food. The unsociable work hours, the bullying, the heat – this is not part of the culinary cultural capital that we learn from MasterChef.
MasterChef offers contestants and viewers a taste of the cooking techniques and presentation style of the restaurant industry, and presents these to us in ways that make them seem both aspirational and desirable.
This has given MasterChef the ratings boost it so desperately needed, but it has done this without engaging with the realities of the industry that the show is essentially promoting.’
But was Master Chef even remotely intended to ground anyone in the reality of the industry? Or does anyone watch it with that intention? Of course not. It’s a vanity show, not a reality show despite the name for its genre.
Fair Food
‘A collaboration between the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) and food publishers and facilitators The Field Institute, Fair Food documents the people pioneering new approaches to food production and distribution. Watch the trailer.’

Darn, I again am going to miss a showing of this Aussie doco, but maybe you can get along.

Local government and public place gardening – imposing limitations?
‘When we consider community food production in our cities, one particular area in desperate need of reform in local government is its anti-democratic approach to dealing with complaints. Two cases I know of involved people making footpath gardens. What happened was that one person on the street complained and council decided that, on the basis of this single complaint rather that the large number who signed a petition to retain the garden, the gardens had to go. This was a unilateral decision by council that ignored due process in negotiating disagreements among citizens. Citizens saw it as profoundly unfair.’
We set up our footpath garden – not a full on vegie patch but a mix of herbs and citrus and non-edible plants – at the time that Marrickville Council had no policy on this. Happily their position was as long as we kept reasonable footpath access for pedestrians they had no worries. Now they do have an enabling policy. No-one in the street has ever complained – in fact, I have had people dobbed in to me by neighbours for nicking the parsley J

France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities
‘French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste... Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years in jail.’

Supermarkets do what! Do they in Aus does anyone know? And while I applaud the proposal I worry about the impact on Les Fregans Francais L

Kitchen gadget review: The Garlic Zoom a leprechaun’s Perspex stagecoach
According to the packaging, Garlic Zoom was created by “David A Holcombe, Famous Inventor”. The words are self-undermining, but I like the attitude. It is what an eight-year-old would write on his pencil case. In fact, with big green wheels and mini blades that resemble ninja throwing stars, the Garlic Zoom does feel a bit child-designed.’

I am thoroughly enjoying this series. And if using this stagecoach gets kids started off helping in the kitchen, I’m for it J [He says, not wanting to admit that playing while prepping would be just peachy by him, too].

The Lexicon of Sustainability
A site I have just come across that looks worth the exploring. I have dipped into the Lexicon of Food and the Food List.

Ethical eating: the plants (and animals) are watching us
‘Think of the scene in the 1999 movie Notting Hill in which William, played by Hugh Grant, has dinner with Keziah, a self-described frutarian, who believes that fruits and vegetables have feelings, and so will only eat things that have spontaneously fallen off the vine. “So these carrots…?” ventures William. “Have been murdered,” responds Keziah.’
And of course we know that mandrake screams as it is pulled from the ground. The discussion being had in various places about what constitutes intelligence does raise fascinating new insights into how plnts interact with all aspects of their environment includinf humans, but I still think most cabbbages are dumb as. Ta all the same to Colin for this article.

The new religion: How the emphasis on ‘clean eating’ has created a moral hierarchy
‘She argues that the rise in food movements has coincided with a decline of religion in society, with many people seeking familiar values such as purity, ethics, goodness. But these movements also tend to encourage behaviours that have steered a generation away from religion: Judgment, self-righteousness, an us-versus-them mentality. And, she adds, many seek a fulfilment that cannot be satisfied with food.’

Another from Colin. I think it’s a pretty long bow that’s being drawn here, and, dare I say it, it’s typical Stateside with its obsession with religion. The decline in religion I suspect if historically charted would show bugger all relationship to the rise of vegetarianism, veganism or any other foodism. Which is not to say the food restrictions have not been used as religious distinction, but as Colin said in his email to me, what would Mary Douglas think about this.

Monday, May 18, 2015

This week's compost

Had a splendid time doing brekkies for choristers over the weekend at Stroud. Found the triffic Two Men and a Pumpkin Farmgate which runs on Saturdays at Stroud Road (no, that’s NOT a road in Stroud but the next town up toward Gloucester so named, I think , cause that’s where the railway station is for the area). Loved the produce I grabbed for our last brekkie, a sample of which is my pic for this week. I mean, how fab to find somewhere away from the Big Smoke that grows turmeric, lemon grass, and – wonder of wonders – arrowroot!. Check out their FB page at and you can check out Limestone Permaculture, one of the two men at

Week of Tastes
The indefatigable Helen Campbell is again running the Week of Tastes this year and needs taste presenters for some schools who want to be involved. They can be chef, baker, pastry, cheesemaker, providore, etc as long as they work with a quality product. There are Sydney schools and regional NSW schools. Allons! Below is a list that she would love to fill so if you have any suggestions, please get in touché avec ella (or something Francais like that J The numbers after the names are how many presenters I need. I myself have put my hand up to bring spice knowledge to the darlings of Darlington. I did it a couple of years ago and it was triff J

1.      Boggabri (halfway between Narrabri and Gunnedah).. 1
2.      Booligal (80 km north Hay)… 1
3.      Cudgen ( just near Kingscliff)…1
4.      Dubbo West..2
5.      Junee North… 1
6.      Kentlyn (near Campbelltown)… 1
7.      Kinchela (between Kempsey and South West Rocks)… 2
8.      Medlow (Taylors Arm, 40 km from Macksville)…. 1
9.      Niangala (75 km from Tamworth, 75 km from Walcha)…. 1
10.  Chisholm ( just east of Maitland) I think I have Morpeth Bakery for this.
11.  Tuntable Creek (just out of Nimbin) … 1
12.  Wellington (50km SE of Dubbo)….  2
13.  Wilcannia… 1

And within Sydney:
1.      Bligh Park – 8 classes, so I will need 4 people! Just near Windsor
2.      Lalor Park (Blacktown)… 2
3.      Kingsgrove… 1
4.      Parramatta West… 2
5.      Wheelers Heights… 2
6.      Allambie Heights… 1
7.      Mount Pritchard (near Liverpool) … 3
8.      Padstow… 2
9.      Werrington County (Penrith) … 2

Helen can be contacted via Helen Campbell []

Why recipe less cooking is the next big thing
Everyone’s grandma did it, and now chefs are encouraging a new generation to do it. They want you to cook without a recipe.’

Except they don’t. The links to the pot roast and the soup will take you to pages where  - surprise surprise – you get narratives that tell you what to use and how to use them. Now call me pedantic, but that’s a recipe as far as I’m concerned. Sure, it doesn’t have ingredient in a list with specific quantities – except in the pot roast not-a-recipe you do get told how much of a couple of things you need. But as we know quantifying like this is a relatively recent approach developed to fill a very specific need. Interestingly most of the comments are very much along the lines of OFFS and some are hilarious: I particularly liked ‘Didn't Nostradamus have people cooking without recipes as one of the signs of the end of the world?’.

An Illustrated Field Guide to Modern Day Foodies (from Colin Sheringham)

It being US I don’t get all the references but I recognise several local varieties of the species.

How can we get street food back onto the streets ?
‘The principle that, in order to thrive, street-food traders need to work together to attract a crowd, is well established. Any romantic notion foodies may once have had about seeing lone food vans operating across our cities, offering a cheap, colourful alternative to the high street, remains a distant dream. Instead, the scene is all about collective action.’

I think this article misses the real obstacles entirely as to why street food will never have the presence in Australia that people romanticise for it and those are hygiene legislation driven by fear of litigation and fanned by cultural and class prejudices.