Saturday, November 12, 2016

Compost November 2016

Sorry about the long time between newsletters. I could say I have been busy putting together my paper on Doris Lessing's take on war and food security in her sci-fi works for the Aus Gastronomy Symposium coming up in December, which is true. But also there has been a dearth of anything worth the adding to the compost bin.

Anyhoo, here's some orts.

Click plate: how Instagram is changing the way we eat
 ‘Once these Instagram-friendly foods go viral, they can completely change the way we eat. Breakfast, for example, has shifted from a decidedly unphotogenic cereal or marmalade on toast to the bright hues of avocado toast (there are nearly 250,000 #avocadotoast hashtagged photos on Instagram) and smoothie bowls.’

Really? It’s the sort of article that begs the question of who the ‘we’ is that is being spoken of here and how you judge when something is completely changed or is just a fad or the result of clever marketing. It’s annoying that the article cites no research for its heftier claims like the following:

‘Posting food on social media can reframe the ways that we interact with food on a fundamental level. When we document the food we eat, taking time to relish, share and even be proud of it, we also destigmatise it. Although #cleaneating, weight loss and #cleanse food photographs on Instagram have created a shaming, toxic subculture of foodphobia and guilt, there is a still greater faction of foodie social media that rallies against that nastiness. People in recovery from eating disorders are able to chronicle their recovery and celebrate each morsel of food that they are able to eat. In the absence of positive depictions of plus-size people in the mainstream media, social media affords fat people a place where they can subvert the expectations of embarrassment, shyness and prescribed dieting foisted upon them by a fatphobic world. Posting your meals online – whether they are healthy, unhealthy or none of your goddamn business – can be a freeing act.’

Reducing food waste could put birds and animals at risk
 “So what is the implication of removing that waste from the system?” he said. “There may be some species then that face a significant decline in their populations.”

No, but really, some days you just feel like giving up. Nothing anyone does can do anything but screw up something so why bother, eh.

With the familiar cavendish banana in dnage can science help it survive?
 ‘Virtually all the bananas sold across the Western world belong to the so-called Cavendish subgroup of the species and are genetically nearly identical. These bananas are sterile and dependent on propagation via cloning, either by using suckers and cuttings taken from the underground stem or through modern tissue culture.
The familiar bright yellow Cavendish banana is ubiquitous in supermarkets and fruit bowls, but it is in imminent danger. The vast worldwide monoculture of genetically identical plants leaves the Cavendish intensely vulnerable to disease outbreaks.’
Again, really, do we want to protect a monocultural market bonanza or would be rather get other varieties to market and increase the genetic pool and hence the capacity for fighting diseases without the intervention of expensive Big Science solutions.

“Silvia’s Italian Table” is a 30 mintues instruction in self-hatred
 ‘When Silvia isn’t wearing a garland in her long, amazing hair or sensually kneading dough-penises that recall the idyll of a bullshit peasant past, she is talking with Australians of note to a weekly theme. The format, which borrows as copiously from Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet as it does Nigella Bites, might work to provoke conversation if anyone was permitted to say anything other than “I prefer the simple things” and “I believe in being true to myself”.

One of Helen Razer’s more bust-my-side-laughing sprays where I could have grabbed any para and posted it. But I must get nback to sensually kneading dough penises.

Why can’t Australians cope with a British Empire themed restaurant
‘Great Britain has on its history the indelible blot of not only having had an empire like the Germans and Japanese, but of having had an empire that – thanks to two generations of Marxist-derived indoctrination in schools and universities – is now known to have been just about the greatest force of evil in the history of the universe. There’s no point in saying other empires have been worse. Australians can’t argue rationally where the British are concerned. Of course many British loathe their empire as well. But in Australia the hatred instilled by post-colonialist history courses is compounded by the chippy republican anti-Britishness long present in this country, inherited from Irish immigrants of the nineteenth century.’

And speaking of hilarious sprays...though I don’t think the writer would see it that wat.

My question, which Charmaine and I will resolve, is whether the food is any good. I know, I know, shallow bloody crypto Marxist foodie that I am.

Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad
 There was Life, Volvic, Ugly, Sibberi (birch or maple), Plenish, What A Melon watermelon water, Vita Coco, Coco Pro, Coco Zumi, Chi 100% Pure Coconut Water, Rebel Kitchen Coconut Water and coconut water straight from the nut (“you have to make the hole yourself”, explained a shop assistant). Also: an electrolyte-enhanced water pledging to hydrate you with 40% less fluid than ordinary water (Overly Fitness), a birch water offering “a natural source of anti-oxidising manganese” (Tapped) and an alternative birch water promising to “eliminate cellulite” (Buddha). There was also a “water bar” – a tap in the corner of the shop – that, according to the large sign hanging from the ceiling, offered, for free, the “cleanest drinking water on the planet”, thanks to a four-stage process conducted by a “reverse osmosis deionising water filter”.

Squid’s out – are there any you can still eat?
 ‘Despite a growth in popularity, squid is classified as an unprotected species and is not currently subject to quota restrictions – but the methods used to catch it can have an impact on other species. New ratings produced by the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide suggest that some species should be eaten either rarely or not at all. So which squid is the most sustainable? Here is our guide to the calamari to consume ...’

Anyone know which species are mainly consumed here in Oz?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Compost 8 October 2016

Some of us went to the Time Out forum on The politics of bush food now and were underwhelmed. A read of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu and John Newton’s The Oldest Foods on Earth had way more to say about the politics and placed the debate in its historic context which, it may come as a surprise to some of the other panellists at that session, did not begin with Rene Noma.

I shouldn’t go to those events. I am clearly not the demographic of ‘cool’ that wants to have a feel good night about how ethically aware they are...well at least till the next food ethical cool thang comes along.

On to happier fields:

Super Size. The dizzying grandeur of 21st century agriculture.

‘Our industrialized food system nourishes more people, at lower cost, than any comparable system in history. It also exerts a terrifyingly massive influence on our health and our environment. Photographer George Steinmetz spent nearly a year travelling the country to capture that system, in all its scope, grandeur and dizzying scale. His photographs are all the more remarkable for the fact that so few large food producers are willing to open themselves to this sort of public view.’

Startling and sobering. The vid of harvesting organic baby beans is a salutary reminder that demand even here leads to extraordinary scale.

It’s the taste we’ve been missing

‘Every culture has a major source of complex can’t taste carbohydrate. The idea that we what we’re eating doesn’t make sense’.

A terrifically interesting article on our ability to taste starch as a flavour in its own right. I’ve often wondered about how I could fit some of what I taste into the Holy Four + One, particularly some spices I am sometimes reduced to having to describe as tasting musty. So it’s exciting to see a breakthrough into a possible official designation of a sixth and perhaps more.

The article is in New Scientist 10 September 2016. I have a scanned copy I can send on to anyone interested.

Sifting through LAC’s Cookbook Collection

‘In this episode, we sit down with Erika Reinhardt, archivist at Library and Archives Canada, to discuss LAC’s cookbook collection. We discuss how culture and technology have shaped these books and recipes over time, and the impact they have had on our relationship with food and cooking throughout our history.’

Thanks to my librarian mate Julie for finding this.

Seed: the untold story
‘The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds.’

One to look out for I reckon.

‘ The gay restaurant is a throwback to that time long ago before the American palate had been Bourdained’.
The Death and Life of America’s Gay Restaurants
Mike Albo

‘Jarry  is a print magazine that explores where food and gay culture intersect. More than just a magazine, Jarry brings together a community of gay chefs, eaters, artisans, writers, photographers, artists, and industry influencers, and celebrates the art of gay domesticity’

Colin S got me on to this journal which had first ish in Sept 2015 naturally I had to subscribe ‘for the stories’ I can only wonder why it took so long J

Cacao Biology. Chocolate Culture and Superfood
‘Only the merchants’ fear of losing  cacao was greater than their fear of the potentially dangerous newcomers, triggering a panicked recovery of what the strangers so thoughtlessly fumbled. It was the first lesson in what cacao was worth.’

Kathryn Sampeck in her arcticle in Revista, the Harvard Review of Latin America, Fall 2016 focussing on ‘the biology of culture’.

Courtesy of John N.

Is Colonialism the Worst Restaurant trend of 2016

As the Guardian reports, a recently opened restaurant in Brisbane, Australia has sparked outrage with its bizarre marketing push. Called British Colonial Co., its website originally explained the concept as “inspired by the stylish days of the empirical push into the developing cultures of the world, with the promise of adventure and modern refinement in a safari style setting.’

There is a branch in Darlinghurst which I have to confess I have been interested to sample – both for the food and the context. I also am not sure three restaurants makes for a trend. However, Helen or anyone else who wants to have a colonial adventure...please email me surreptitiously.

Review: Bugs on the Menu at the Environmental Film Festival

‘Bugs are on the menu in Canadian filmmaker Ian Toews’ documentary screening at the Environmental Film Festival Australia this month. The film promotes that the view that bugs can provide a more sustainable way of food (particularly protein) production for an expanding human population.’

You know me well enough by now to know that I take this kind of statement with several handfuls of salt. Hey, I want to eat bugs along with the rest of em and am looking forward to Cambodia in February with just that in mind. But simplistic solutions like this I reckon will the sound of millions of cricket in their urban farms in the streets of Petersham.

Australian food history timeline

Ta to Jacqui Newling for alerting me to Jan O’Connell’s time line. A great place to fossick in. I am a tad disappointed that Jan hasn’t used Aussie cookbooks as source material tho – or at least hasn’t listed them.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Monday, July 25, 2016


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...

...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

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


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.