Sunday, September 4, 2016

Compost





Apologies for the slackness in getting this edition out - PNG and other things got in the way and there has also been something of a dearth of interesting stories from my usual sources (not the human ones, I rush to say).

The pic is of my Dad's Day brekkie of charcoal bread soldiers, eggs (which were too hard for dipping) and some sides  - posted here as it has sparked a tad of discussion about the point of charcoal bread. For my money (and I didn't pay anyway) as a look it's fun, as a taste it was meh.

And a last minute reminder that Food and Words 2016 approacheth rapidamente. I am looking forward to being the interlocutor of Biota's James Viles on his bow and arrow hunting for the private table.

http://foodandwords.com.au/food-writers-festival/

Love the Fig


‘For the wasp mother, however, devotion to the fig plant soon turns tragic. A fig’s entranceway is booby-trapped to destroy her wings, so that she can never visit another plant. When you eat a dried fig, you’re probably chewing fig-wasp mummies, too.’

Helen Campbell as right, of course I enjoyed this article: a model of writing for me, packing a heap of fascinating info in a coupla thousand words with just the right touch of lightness and fancy.

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/love-the-fig?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%252

Dinner, Disrupted

The site won’t let me copy and paste an excerpt for you but I recommend reading for its parallels with somewhere not too far from where you a reading this enewsletter. Ta Helen Greenwood for the lead.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/opinion/sunday/dinner-disrupted.html?_r=1

The Movement to Define Native American Cooking

Another article I will just have to recommend as I can’t cut and paste a tidbit for you. Ta John Newton for this one. I found it fascinating to compare the indigenous foods descibed here with those in Oz. John will kill me for saying this but the berries look a whole lot more appetising than wattle seed J

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/dining/new-native-american-cuisine.html?emc=edit_th_20160817&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=66009271&_r=0

Instagram and the Pornification of Food

‘Food and cooking were popular long before the internet, and remain as much in legacy media, especially TV. But there is no American cooking show that doesn’t have at least a whiff of narrative, the pretense of an ongoing relationship between the host and the audience as the former introduces old recipes, develops new ones, pits contestants against one another in a battle of skill, or explores the local color that informs this or that regional cuisine. With food porn, especially as found on Instagram, the cuisine is stripped of narrative and reduced to the visual, and then reduced again — like a hearty consommé — by repetition, including subsequent, nearly identical images. Although there are plenty of visual recipes for classic dishes or old standbys, there are just as many that function as filler, in which the food being “made” can only be described as such by its loosest definition (Can slathering a store-bought cookie in Jif creamy peanut butter actually be termed “making food”?).’

As a soft core food pornographer this article of course appeals to me. I had no idea that the sites mentioned existed and am not particularly tempted to head for them now if for no other reason that I would feel downright prurient if not just plain grubby. I’m not sure he’s decided where he stand on porn porn though for all his defence of whoredom, and I think that leads to confusing and unsatisfying conclusions to the article.

http://www.themillions.com/2016/08/89284.html

The wastefulness of modern dining as performance art

‘No matter where Honey and Bunny work, though, there’s always the possibility that audience members will pause, smile, and then go home and forget the whole thing. The problem with being a clown is that “nobody has to take me seriously,” Hablesreiter says.’

The title is a misnomer as there is nothing in the article that is about waste. It’s about a couple who perform ‘food design’, some of which  I find fun or quirky but some of which I find (on the basis of the videos embedded in the article) banal. The quote I have above sums up the problem for me in what is reported. If there is nothing that leads people to interrogate what they have been surprised, shocked, intrigued, horrified by, then is what they do just a wank? For example the performance they did where they re-arranged supermarket food shelves in terms of food miles: the article doesn’t indicate if there was any discussion with the customers about what food miles meant. Am I being a grouch? Very well the, I am a grouch.

Ta to Colin Sherringham for the opportunity for me to grouch.

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-wastefulness-of-modern-dining-as-performance-art?intcid=mod-yml

Monday, July 25, 2016

Compost



A Whole New Kind Of Grocery Store Is Coming To The U.S.


‘ The popularity of food startups isn't exactly helping. Take the meal kit delivery service Blue Apron: By sending exactly what you need directly to your door, the startup in theory helps cut down on wasted groceries. But as BuzzFeed points out, nearly every ingredient comes in its own little pouch, generating an insane amount of packaging waste for just a two-person dinner. (Blue Apron said in email that all of its packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.)

I pulled this quote out of this article sent to me by Helen because I think it identifies part of the problem with the bring your own container push. I love that it’s being done, but all the studies show that it is further up the chain or in the sidebar outlets that the change has to happen for there to be an appreciable difference.


The origins of the neenish tart: A sweet mystery and a little scandal

‘The most popular tale is that the neenish tart was invented  by a woman called Ruby Neenish in the New South Wales Riverina town of Grong Grong in 1913. The story goes something like this – Ruby was baking for a shower tea when she ran out of cocoa. Thinking on her feet, she iced her tarts with half chocolate, half white icing and they were known forever more as neenish tarts.’

And it’s such a great story why spoil it by casting nasturtiums at Ruby !


Taste-Testing the History of the Hamburger

‘As the patties sizzled on the pan, they smelled like burgers cooking. Leni, myself and Mary simultaneously took a bite. “It's like a gourmet burger,” said Mary. “It's absolutely a burger. There is no doubt in my mind.”

Another quite delightful origins story.



One-World Menu

‘From Scientific American July 2016:
Back in 1961, residents of far flung countries are very different mixes of crops. By 1985 the disparities worldwide had shrunk and daily fare became even more homogeneous by 2009. In nearly 50 years the differences in foods eaten narrowed by 68%. Prevalent staples such as wheat have become more dominant, and oil crops such a soybean, palm and sunflower have risen sharply.’

Apologies: there is a diagram in the mag that sort of shows this shift but is a tad incomprehensible and not very worth the reproducing. However, it does highlight some startling shifts such as the United Arab Emirates zooming in from the outer reaches in 1961 to the virtual centre of the action in 2009, and Nepal coming in from the cold too.

Why Do Some Plants Become Food Crops and Others Not? And What Does That Tell Us?


As serendipity would have it, just as I added the above this newsletter, Jacqui alerted me to this paper which cited two other papers looking at the homogenising of the world diet from a different perspective. The Lauden and the two Khoury articles cited in it are well worth the read.



Slice, Dice, Chop Or Julienne: Does The Cut Change The Flavor?

Without enzymes, onions and garlic also wouldn't be nearly as flavorful. "If you cut an onion or garlic, you release an enzyme called alliinase that produces the typical pungency or onion or garlic aroma, which really isn't there when it's intact," explains Forney. "The enzymatic reaction forms the flavor — so the more finely it's cut, the more flavor that will be released."

And the more tears you’re gonna cry too, I reckon. Quite an intriguing article (thanks Helen), though I reckon sometimes the direction to cut things particular ways are just to irritate you and rub your nose in it that you will never be a chef.

The real two cultures

The vocabulary of farming is a constant indicator of the divide, but there are many other landmarks. Separate calendars, for example: academics measure their year by semester and holiday breaks, farmers measure theirs by season — planting, haying, breeding, birthing, harvesting. Or even by weather report. If it’s going to rain tomorrow, there will be no mowing of standing hay today because it won’t dry, but class will still be held. And the seasons are likely to be delimited by events that most indoor-bound workers fail to notice. My sister text-messaged me one late April to say that the barn swallows had returned that very afternoon.’

Just one of many pars I could have cited from this terrific thoughtful article.


Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' opens to retrieve vital seeds for Syria

ICARDA and others know that the past could very well contain the key to our future, though no one thought they would see such a mass withdrawal in their lifetime.’

I missed this depressing story when it was first published.




Friday, June 17, 2016

Compost 18 June 2016




This weeks image is my new acquisition - Finger Food by Aysa Vaughan.

Cask from the past: archaeologists find 5000 year old beer recipe
Their analysis revealed that broomcorn millet, Job’s tears, lily, yam, barley and even snake gourd root (Trichosanthes pilosa) went into the beer. What’s more, they say, the type of damage to the starch grains, together with chemical analysis of the residues, suggests the drink was produced by methods familiar to modern brewers. “The beer was made by going through three processes, including malting, mashing, and fermentation,” said Wang.
But despite cracking the beer’s recipe, the archaeologists admit they can’t say how its flavour would measure up to a modern pint. “I really have no idea,” said Wang. “That is beyond our research methods.”
Not the kind of archaeologists I went to uni with then, more’s the pity. And they don’t reproduce the recipe.
  

Welcome Dinners project: ‘We would have no wars if we had more of these dinners’

"There are lots of reasons why Australians aren't connecting," Elsley says. "We believe it's not so much about racism but that people worried about doing the wrong thing by each other. Like, what if I don't cook the right thing, what if it's not halal. So what we do is make people feel safe about coming together by getting our volunteer facilitators to help unpack some of that. We help people connect through their food."’


Sure, the idea that having dinner together ever stops wars is hyperbole. But I think those of us in this Compost bulletin list would applaud this project and its capacity for the enactment of everyday multiculturalism. And at a time when the Ministers of the current Government make extraordinary statements and get away with them by and large, a project that refuses to accept that xenophobia should be our default option is worth supporting and promoting.


Dude food versus superfood: we’re all cultural omnivores

The attributes that omnivorous foodies look for in lowbrow cuisine are “quality, rarity, locality, organic, hand-made, creativity, and simplicity.” Therefore, a freakshake and a green smoothie can both be valued in the eyes of foodies as they are hand-made, creative (in the case of the freakshake), and organic as well as simple (the green smoothie).’
This article annoys me, not least for its throwing around of key terms that remain unhelpfully undefined – high brow, low brow in particular – but also because it fails to suggest why people engage in the behaviour it sets out to identify (and I don’t think it does that well at all) apart from the pretty meaningless statement that ‘The culinary elite are keen to shrug-off the “food snob” tag, showing that they appreciate inexpensive foods that are in some cases ethnic, but authentically so.’


A Melbourne Love Affair

‘The arrival of American troops in Australia during World War II heralded a marked increase in the quality of Melbourne’s local coffee brew. Melbourne’s coffee companies were unable to keep up with demand, so the American military imported modern roasting, grinding and packaging machinery to Australia.’

I refuse to believe that Americans had anything to offer coffeewise.


Which thought led me to wonder about the origin of the term ‘java’ for coffee.



Does anyone in this ebulletin list know whether ‘java’ referred to in US slang was in fact ‘strong, black and very sweet’?

Certainly the Java Jive singer wants the coffee hot and sweet... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP6IUqrFHjw

...but also seems to want a ‘slice of onion’..and then it becomes really weird with the seemingly outré introduction of soya Boston beans, soy beans
Green beans, cabbage and greens’. Or am I just not getting the sexual references?

'Deconstructed coffee' served at Melbourne cafe to Jamila Rizvi sparks social media storm

"I walked into a new cafe in inner north Melbourne, and ordered a flat white without looking at the menu," she told 774 ABC Melbourne. "What showed up was a little chopping board with three miniature beakers, like you would have in a science class, one with boiling water, one with frothy milk and one with a shot of espresso in it." She said she waited for 20 minutes for a cup to arrive before realising it was not going to come.
One of my all time fave coffees was in Mexico City where when I order a cafe con leche they served me a glass of hot milk and a hot glass of black coffee which I then dropped into the milk and watched mesmerised as the coffee swirled up through the milk and finally diffused all the way through. The was in 1988 - well before anyone had heard of deconstruction


Tastes like moral superiority: what makes food ‘good’?

In similar ways, our snobbery toward frozen and processed foods may well be blinding us to their potential advantages. Depending on issues like season and storage and transport methods, some frozen foods might in fact be more nutritious (as well as more convenient) than their fresh counterparts. As the food historian Rachel Laudan argues, processed and industrialised foods are not automatically bad, although quality matters:’
I have happily given in on this one. Frozen peas are fab – I use them extensively in things like a pea, cashew and cauliflower curry, or in my vegie mix for Sri Lankan patties. Frozen grated coconut is this housecooks saviour; do you know how hard it is in Aus (a) to find coconuts for fresh grating and (b) finding said ‘fresh’ coconuts that are not seriously on the turn; the frozen works very well in a mallung or coconut roti, though it has to be admitted that it does not make for a perfect pol sambol.

Delusion at the gastropub
‘Food is personal. It’s sensual, it’s nostalgic, it’s political. But contrary to the slogans of our officious foodie overlords, food is not everything. Viewing our foodie status as a badge of honor makes sense only if we’re prioritizing food advocacy—from promoting sustainable farming practices to reducing food waste to embracing and popularizing more sustainable crops to making healthy food more affordable to the poor—over our indulgence in wildly expensive plates of exotic fare. Before we dive into another dish of bluefin or veal brains or carrots with a 15.2 Brix reading, we should consider how we’ll look fifty years from now to the inhabitants of an overfished, polluted planet: decadent, callous, delusional, and above all, deeply unsavory.’
Maybe it’s just me, but this article strikes me more as a predictable cheap shot dummy spit than anything else. Maybe it’s just that I think she takes a very old and clichéd view of what a foodie is – wealthy, fad following, frivolous. Sure, capitalism knows a buck-making zeitgeist when it sees it, but to dump on all artisanal food makers or the homey doing what they can to counter Big Food as being schmucks without considering whether said artisans and homeys also engage in the wider issues she bandwagons in that last sentence is shallow journalism.



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Compost 22 May 2016





The pic in this edition comes courtesy of Ross Kelly:

‘’22 years ago in London I was addressing some people on the subject of ‘Process Management’. I found this perfect example, an advertisement by the UK ‘The Better Butter council Ltd.’


And now a short vid that gets to me, a child of the 60s and the Detroit Sound.

‘Detroit was literally devoured by the economic crisis, but it is now being reborn in an unexpected way.’


How the Rock Oyster Came to Be
An excellent origin story I am going to reproduce in full from Ross Kelly again.

Sydney Rock
Some years ago, while studying a TAFE course on aboriginal heritage I met an aboriginal man, named Dave Pross. Dave lives towards Terrigal, not far from Patonga.  He gave me this story about the origin of the Sydney Rock Oyster

The Darkjinjung word for Oyster is Patanga, but some call it Potonga.  The Darkinjung story is about how Shark got his small eyes and fin and why oysters live on rocks.
This story comes from the alcatringa time when all animals had limbs.

Shark was in the shallow part of the bay rushing backwards and forwards chasing fish hoping to catch some for his meal, and did not notice in the bushes the Patanga brothers were watching him.  Shark caught a fish and walked out of the water to place it in the sand for later, then going back into the water to hunt for more. His second attempt was no good the fish had gone.  So he went back to cook the fish he had caught earlier, but while he was in the water the Patangas had stolen his fish and hid it in the bush. Shark looked around for his fish but could not see it, all he could see was the two Patangas sitting near the bushes, he walked over to them and asked have you seen my fish, they said what fish, you know very well said shark you two are the only people on the beach, the Patangas held up their arms and shrugged, Shark walked away then turned and said if you took my fish you will be sorry.

The Patangas gathered some wood to light a fire, Patangas being lazy the did not go far for the wood so the wood they gathered was a special type that when you burnt it, it made glue.  The Patangas cooked fish and then ate it, after this one Patanga said to his brother that was then best meal, the brother replied yes, any meal you do not have to catch is the best, and they just burst out laughing, being lazy they then did not get rid of the remains of the fish, they just rolled over near the fire and went to sleep. 

The next morning the Patangas were woken by Shark kicking them, and he said you two ate my fish, they replied no we did not, Shark pointed at the remains and said liars, kicking them again. The eldest Patanga jumped up as Shark was kicking the other brother, and he grabbed Shark and they fell into the hot sand near the fire, as they were rolling around, the two Patangas rushed at him trying to knock him down again, Shark side stepped and they fell into the ashes of the fire, and as they tried to get out Shark pushed them back in, getting white ash all over them.  

Shark started to walk away and the Patangas got out of the ashes, then the eldest Patanga picked up his boomerang, threw it at Shark hitting him in the middle of the back, Shark screamed out, turned and picked up a big waddy then rushed to the Patangas.  He beat them with the waddy hard they got smaller and smaller.  He then picked them up and tossed them in the water, and they landed on the rocks in the water.

So now Shark has small eyes because of the hot sand and a fin on his back - the boomerang, and because the Patangas were lazy and used special wood they were covered in glue from the ashes and are now stuck on the rocks.

Eels Festival
And keeping with the native food team, big congratulations to Clive Freeman and Jacqui Newling on the first eel festival at Baramatta. And booooooooooooo to Jacqiu for not telling me it was on L Just as well they reckon it is going to be annual.

I had a lovely encounter recently with a labrador in Sydney Park who decided to give his owners a present...a quite dead eel from the creek that comes down from the Sydney City Council maintenance shed and nursery to Wetland 3. I resisted the impulse to say that I would take the task of getting rid of it for the human companions and instead stuffing it down my front and taking it home.

And for more on Aussie eels http://nswaqua.com.au/fish-species/eels/


Macho diets, sludge eating techies, and ‘miracle diets’; how did food get so tricky?
‘While the “science of cooking” might strike some as a strategy to appeal to men, new research suggests that young Australian women are embracing science education and careers vigorously. That shift suggests a generational change that could itself bring new perspectives into ‘food science.’

Not just a generatoinal change but perhaps a gendered change and what might that look like? What does women-centered science look like overall and how would a women-centered science of cooking be different to what the lads of molecular gastronomy have done thus far? It’s my impression that women are Will women continue to be confined to the nutritional and dietary realms of food science where they frequently currently are?

This is apparently the first in a series in The Conversation called ‘Tastes of a Nation’. Which rather begs the question in the title of this article, I think.

And any way, what/who on earth is/are ‘sludge eating techies’?


Can we be Australian without eating indigenous food?
Second cab of the rank in ‘Tastes of a Nation’  is our much esteemed colleague John Newton’s piece. Excellent to see John’s book getting lots of interest.


Kitchen Science: The many wonders of humble flour
A non-Newtownian fluid can be poured, but if you strike it quickly, it will go stiff and hard. This is because the colloid changes the surface tension of the fluid to make it behave as if it were solid when struck. This tends to work only when the starches are uncooked.’

I would love to try this with cornflour some time – does anyone have a pool I could use?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Compost








Edible Utensils


Veggie is the most low-carbon diet, right? Well, it depends where you live
 So what does this all mean? Well, 90% of our energy intake comes directly from the soil, so agricultural practices obviously have a big effect on soil health. If you care about conserving soils as well as minimising your greenhouse emissions, it’s not as simple as just going vegetarian. Grazing animals can be good for soils, even though their methane emissions are bad for the atmosphere. Working out where the balance sits is a fiendishly tricky question. This is because agricultural emissions are related to individual site factors (such as climate or soil type) as well as agricultural practices (such as fertiliser regime or grazing intensity).’
Just shoot me, really.

Museums Lure a New Generation of Patrons Through Their Stomach
 ‘It shouldn’t be surprising. A whole generation has come of age whilst suckling the philosophies of Anthony Bourdain and Michael Pollan. This isn't just a flock of sheep grazing on the closest taco truck; these are consumers so involved in food and culture that they’re founding new food museums of their own. The challenge is to translate the history of food into experiences that both work within and push the boundaries of a museum.’

Jacqui Newling, your work with Sydney Living Museums is ‘on trend’ J


Your Grandmother’s Cooking

‘A new website called Grandmas Project is seeking to preserve – like so much jam – the unique recipes from grandmothers around the world. The aim is produce a series of documentary films that focus on 30 grandmothers, explaining how to cook 30 of their best, time-tested recipes. If you have a grandmother, and she has recipes, you’re encouraged to contribute.’
Darn, I haven’t any grand kids old enough – well, I haven’t any at all, really – who could kick up a fuss about this assuming that only grandma’s cooked.


War crime? Israel destroys Gaza crops with aerial herbicide spraying


‘Gaza farmers have lost 187 hectares of crops to aerial spraying of herbicides by Israel hundreds of meters within the territory's borders. The action, carried out in the name of 'security', further undermines Gaza's ability to feed itself and may permanently deprive farmers of their livelihoods. It may also represent a war crime under the 1977 Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.’

The kind of food war you don’t read about.

                                                                                                                                                               
Hadley Freeman: If the cavemen did it or ate it it’s got to be good for you, right?
‘People have been sentimental about earlier eras for as long as there have been earlier eras to sentimentalise. But this particular sentimentality has little to do with a desire to improve the modern era, let alone to genuinely relive the past. Not even someone daft enough to discuss “bone broth” wants to return to Palaeolithic times. Instead, it’s a bizarre backlash against feminism, replete with men lugging rocks around and women reduced to salad eaters and babyfeeders. Who knew the modern era would look so retrograde?’

A fresh take on the Paleodiet, to me at least, and a cogent one.


 Kitchen science: gastrophysics brings the universe into your kitchen
‘Have you ever dropped a just-opened plastic bottle of milk or fruit juice on the kitchen bench and had the contents jumped up and hit you in the face? I have. And when it happened, I suddenly realised there was a connection with the physics of a type II supernova explosions.’


Love the ideas in this article. Pity the ebook from the author is only available via Apple. There goes a substantial part of the potential audience, like me. Barbara he could be a good one for Food and Word this year though.


Nestle’s Half-Billion Dollar Noodles Debacle in India
 It was the middle of the night when the jangle of his cellphone woke Sanjay Khajuria from a deep sleep. In the few seconds it took him to get his bearings—to remember he was in a Manhattan hotel room and not at home in his bed in Delhi—the Nestlé executive had an unsettling thought: Could this be about Maggi?

A fascinating article about the minefields in industrial neo-colonialism.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Compost



Took a ride on the train from Kandy to Nuwera Eliya for the first time in 50 plus years on my march Sri Lanka food tour. There is no buffet car on the train so we all got lunch boxes from our previous night's hotel. Shouldn't have bothered as a couple of stations up from Kandy this guy, selling prawn vada (lentil cakes with a prawn pressed in and then deep fried) accompanied by onions and fried whole dried red chilies, and a couple of others hopped on the train with street food that was streets ahead of the limp sandwiches in the box.
21 Pictures that Prove Hipsters Should be Banned from Food Forever
How could I resist posting this J I understand the shovel is already in use at a certain cafe in Alexandria.
His Paula Deen takedown when viral but this food scholar has more on his mind.
‘Twitty’s embrace of all the various parts of himself — African, African American, European, black, white, gay, Jewish — sometimes raises hackles, as does his habit of speaking his mind. An article he wrote in the ‘Guardian on July 4, 2015, suggesting that American barbecue “is as African as it is Native American and European, though enslaved Africans have largely been erased” from its story, elicited scorn and worse: Many commenters were outraged by his idea of barbecue as cultural appropriation. Even scholars who appreciate Twitty’s insistence that the African and African Americans who helped create Southern cooking be recognized say he sometimes overstates his case. “What gives scholars pause is his tendency to make bold statements when more nuance is needed when writing about a time period — pre-colonial Africa — that is not well documented,” says Adrian Miller, James Beard Award-winning­ author of “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine.”
To which my response is that sometimes it takes bold statements to generate questioning that leads to scholarship which may lead to documentation that answers the question.
Thanks to Jacqui Newling for the lead to this article on the fascinating Michael Twitty.

The vast bay leaf conspiracy

‘Maybe you’ve had this experience: You throw a bay leaf into a broth, and it doesn’t do anything. Then you throw the rest of the bay leaves you bought into the broth, too, because you only bought them for this, and you’ll be damned if you don’t taste a bay leaf, and they don’t do anything, either. What could be the cause of this? I’ll tell you. Bay leaves are bullshit.’

It goes on a bit but it’s a fun article. I have a good mate who would agree with the sentiment.


The Rise of Egotarian Cuisine

‘This style of dining is currently nameless. What makes the food different is that every chef is seeking to express himself in an incomparable and triumphant manner. I call it Egotarian Cuisine.
The food is ingenious. It's occasionally brilliant. Too often, it's awful.’

Love the 9 signs – especial 5. The herb in your soup is found only in botany textbooks and 9. The chef explains that his cooking has "a story to tell," and it's a romantic novel of self-love.

Ta John Newton for the lead.


What it’s like to cook for the Pope

There were certain restrictions, which were obvious because of his age: nothing spicy, no irritants, nothing too greasy,” Ibarra explained. “All the fruits had to be seedless to avoid digestive problems.

Go on! You KNOW you want to know.


21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy

This looks seriously good with some fab OS guests. Registrations not open yet. The webpage for the Symposium and the corresonding Facebook page are a welcome advance. Signing up to the FB will keep you informed.

Just a pity I already delivered a paper on Utopias & Dystopias: Upesia & Dyspepsia at a Symposium in  2004 – available for anyone interested via moi.


Food Politics

The call for papers is now open for the Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream conference, which will be held at the University of Tasmania from Thursday 30 June – Friday 1 July 2016.

No info yet on how to register but you can follow the site via its blog.


Oxford Symposium calling for donations

The Friends of the Oxford Symposium have put out a call for donations to support work of the Symposium that is ‘important to the Symposium that are not funded by registration fees’ such as Student Research Grants, prizes for Best Student Paper Presentations, the Best Presentation award for a non-student first-time presenter, Young Chef grants, and ongoing support for the website and the Proceedings Digitisation Project.



Friday, February 5, 2016

Compost





Welcome all to 2016. Big ish this time as I have been slack.
 
The pic for this issue is of a Sri Lankan egg hopper. The name is a corruption of appam, Hindi for the same thing, usually a toddy-fermented batter of rice made into a bowl shaped pancake and eaten with a variety of things from sweetened milk or coconut milk as a breakfast dish in Tamil Nadu to Syrian Christians in Kerala eating it with a meat stew. In Sri Lanka it’s a breakfast dish often eaten with fish curry and a seeni (sugar and fried onion) sambol. But my interest is in the particularly Sri Lankan variation, the egg hopper (at least I can’t find this variation described for Southern India). To make this, once you have swirled the batter around the bowl shaped hopper pan and set that back on the fire, you crack an egg into the centre and cover the whole as you do when making plain hoppers, so the egg and the batter cook together. Tastes vary as to how firm the egg should be. You then can use a plain hopper to dip into a softer eff a la toast soldiers, or pull the firmer egg hopper apart, or top it with sambol, or fish curry or whatever really.
 
Reading Another Anglo-Indian Cuisine: Te Cousins of Curry, Featuring ‘A Few Nice Pies’  by Blake Perkins in PPC 104 (an article with I have some issues) set me wondering about the origin of this practice. I am trying to think of any other dish that resembles it i.e. one where an egg is cracked directly on to some other substance, not just batter, and cooked with it in this manner. Does anyone have any suggestions?
 
 
Project Boomerang
It’s kicked off well with a robust discussion about this year’s MLA ad for Australia Day which, for those who haven’t caught it, is an action epic featuring Australian SAS type men rescuing Australian’s overseas and bringing them back to share lamb chops on the barbie.
 
If you’ve not seen the critiques, here are a few links:
http://www.adnews.com.au/news/lee-lin-chin-stars-in-mla-s-australia-day-epic
 
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/12/the-real-problem-is-not-the-lamb-ad-but-the-militarisation-of-australian-nationalism
 
http://m.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/how-the-australia-day-lamb-ad-contributes-to-everyday-cultural-erasure-20160113-gm5dj5.html
 
In a discussion thread amongst a few of us made the following observations:
Alison -  Speaks to the broader issue of trying to invent tradition.
Colin - I would argue that as an advertisement it works - how many times did they have to pay for TV screenings before it went viral on the net. How many people have viewed the ad and how much is it now costing to be 'aired'.
John - And without getting into all the political and racial arguments, that's the only thing the MLA cares about.
Juan Carlo - Exactly. From that perspective, the ad works and fits well into their strategy of controversial Australia Day ads.
Paul - Agreed, Colin, in terms of its virality, but will it get anyone to put lamb on the bbq if they weren't before or indeed buy any more lamb than they did before at any other time in the year? Love to see what the sales figures show.
And of course, being a dyed in the wool Catholic I look forward to a great campaign around Easter and the munching into the Paschal Lamb :)
John - My contacts in MLA tell me that it works its bum off. Lamb sales leap over the fence.
 
Our discussion took us to curious places as it usually does.
 
From Colin:
While we are in the ad watching mood
 
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bHhCP5ad-zM&ebc=ANyPxKpPhuMa24EZ1QGZpcM8aVhz8As1Udte4QiJd8ndACYTraHpcntQg0PIvGkqvdEmIn80mHhRnWxdnNxHLAAxSB3MMtF_gQ
 
And from Juan Carlo:
On the subject of charcoal and ads, this insight from Ben Grubb: https://twitter.com/bengrubb/status/687441094485737472
So what was the response of others of you?
First taste of chocolate
 
Ta Maria and Ross for the link to this quite delightful and in its quiet way agitprop vid.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEN4hcZutO0&nbsp
 
Cabbage Cores for Sale at Baldor Specialty Foods in New York
 
And thanks for Helen for this story to add to my collection on reducing food waste. I hope these ventures are not just fads but become a permanent part of the industrial scale food chain.
 
‘Baldor’s processing facility Fresh Cuts works with 40–50 types of fruits and vegetables daily. Its workers chop, dice, and peel to create 1,400 different products, such as carrot sticks and shredded Brussels sprouts. At the end of the day, the business is left with copious amounts of organic matter, such as brussel sprout bits, mango peels, and the outermost ring of the onions, which can be tough to eat.
Until very recently, all Baldor’s food waste moved from conveyer belts into large pipes that line the walls and cavernous ceilings of its production facility. All pipes led to a dumpster out back, and all that food waste got trucked at Baldor’s expense to the landfill, where, in the process of decomposing, it would create the dangerous greenhouse gas methane.’
 
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1942810-cabbage-cores-for-sale-at-baldor-specialty-foods-in-new-york/
 
How the Perennial’s Sustainable Mode Will Break the Restaurant Mold.
 
And thanks again to Helen for this link.
 
‘For the ingredients that need a little more room to roam than the West Oakland compound allows, Myint, Leibowitz and Kiyuna have identified local farms that not only raise their livestock in a clean and humane way, but are also on the cutting edge of carbon farming practices that leave the land in better shape than they found it.’
 
http://sf.eater.com/2016/1/19/10784686/the-perennials-san-francisco-opening
 
Fruit and Vegies. Why Do They Cost So Much and Who Gets What
 
No prizes for guessing the answer.
 
‘John Dollisson, chief executive of Apple and Pear Australia, said the average farm-gate price for all apple varieties last year was $2.57/kg while the retail price was $4.20/kg. In terms of profitability, 2015 was one of the worst years on record, with some growers – like some of the valencia growers – unable to cover production costs, he said.
"We want to work with retailers much more closely to develop strategies that ensure a fair share of profits to both growers and retailers and, importantly, a fair price for consumers," he said.

http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/fruit-and-vegies-why-do-they-cost-so-much-and-who-gets-what-20160115-gm6kf8.html?eid=email:nnn-13omn655-ret_newsl-membereng:nnn-04/11/2013-news_pm-dom-news-nnn-smh-u&campaign_code=13INO009&et_bid=26031996&promote_channel=edmail&mbnr=MTA3Mzk4Njg
 
Farmer’s Market versus Supermarket
 
‘If time, budget – and let’s be honest, weather – allow, the outdoor environment and personal interaction at the farmers market makes shopping more fun than a chore (although you do have to lug what you buy). Local, seasonal, fresh and unprocessed is always best, but at least here in Portland, it’s nice to know that the supermarket is not anathema to eating healthfully and well.’
 
Colin forwarded this to me.  The take home message for me, as I pretty much knew, is that I make choices about buying at the Farmer’s Market for reasons not always to do with the quality of the produce, but for values I can enact in purchasing there. Mind you, I will still never find the variety of vegies in the supermarket up the road to what i find on Hapi’s stall at Addison Road, and certainly will not find the bits and bobs that would otherwise be tossed away or ignored but which Hapi pops into a tray to tempt me with.
 
http://www.pressherald.com/2014/05/11/farmers_market_vs__supermarket_/
 
The lucky country? Social space and community gardens in Australia
 
‘Recent research in Australian cities is telling a different story. Unlike the experiences in Boston and Detroit, forms of alternative food systems (e.g., community gardens) are, for the most part, working within existing neoliberal structures, as opposed to a Lefevbrian appropriation of space... This is particularly the case where local councils have yet to recognise the social use value of space, nor consider it on par with economic use value when making land use decisions. Respondents emphasized that the main barrier to community garden groups in starting up or maintaining established activities was working with local councils. Although some city officials are sympathetic and supportive of neighbourhood efforts to start community gardens on public lands, these are considered as community initiatives and are assessed by officials on a case-by-case basis. In Sydney, such assessments use criteria developed, largely, by planning departments at inner city and suburban local councils.’
 
Hmm...I will have to toss Lefevbre into my next encounter with Marrickville Council. When Marilyn and I suggested to Council some years back now that we would rather have a garden, if not a vegie garden, on our nature strip instead of buffalo grass to replace the concrete they were finally digging up they had no guidelines for what we wanted to do but did ont oppose it as long as we kept the footpath and roadway clear. I guess that counts as ‘working within existing neoliberal structures’ though the Council wouldn’t see it that way. Apparently they now have developed a set of guidelines now for others wanting to do what we did, which is nice to know. Oh, and there is parsley and lemon verbena wilding the garden strip these days too J
 
https://ugecviewpoints.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/the-lucky-country-social-space-and-community-gardens-in-australian-cities/?platform=hootsuite
 
 
The problems with food media that no-one wants to talk about
 
‘Too often an immigrant cuisine is anointed “the next big thing” only after a certain kind of chef comes to the fore who can check the right media-favored boxes: the white guy who spent a year in Laos and already inked a book deal; the hipster with a five-panel Supreme hat whose trio of kimchi is considered “edgy”; the flashy international superstar with a fine-dining pedigree. Even as our tastes broaden, the way we want those stories packaged—along with whom we deem worthy to play the lead role—is still very selective.’
 
I admit I haven’t read a Delicious, or Gourmet in years, and to say I skim through Good Food is to suggest I spend more time on it than I do, and I barely subsribe to any online food media. But then, I don’t expect to get much but fluff from them and I don’t know that we should any more if we ever did. Frankly I get more interesting foodway writing from New Scientist, the Guardian daily and at times The Conversation.
 
Ta to Colin for this link
 
http://firstwefeast.com/eat/problems-with-food-media/
 
Ten Bush Foods e book by Kado Muir
 
Ta to Colin again for the link to this nice little book J
 
http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fus2.campaign-archive2.com%2F%3Fu%3D0c2ce4420879d11b5be9b47b9%26id%3Dff72bdea3c&h=PAQFRBRCr&s=1