Monday, December 15, 2014

This week's compost

I am hugely thrilled that in this ish of Compost we have several items contributed by youse out there. I would love more as making this a space to share ideas, resources, stories like those in this ish is very much what I have hoped the newsletter would develop into over time.

Bring on the debate J

From Barbara Santich. Any takers?

After a holiday in NSW I’ve come up with a theory: The rissole sandwich (once spotted on a menu in one of those cheap caf├ęs at Central, on the way to Eddy Av) and rissole roll (at a takeaway at Wauchope) are not only definitively Australian but particular to NSW. Would you like to run this in your Compost – there might be others with similar evidence. Or the contrary! ‘

Sydney Rock Oysters
This lovely food origin story courtesy of Ross Kelly.

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.

Happy Halal

From John Newtown as a follow on to last Compost’s posting:

‘A  interesting sidelight to the Halal nonsense. On  recent trip to Nyngan we visited the local abattoir, KJ Halal. Below an excerpt from  my diary about the tripo: ‘Next stop the abattoir at Nyngan owned by Pakistani brothers Jarvid and Tariq. Jarvid (or maybe it’s Javid) told us he’d arrived in Australia on a foreign worker’s permit and a lie. He told them he was a Halal slaughterman, but had never worked as a slaughterman. He got a job in Oberon, got paid lousy money and when he asked for a raise his boss said “you’re learning’” A little later he asked for a raise only to be told he was still learning. “When will I finish learning?” he asked. “Never” said the boss, but gave him a raise anyway. Now after working as a slaughterman all around the country, he owns his own abattoir, and is about to expand. Tariq appears to be the elder statesman, Javid the ideas man: dreamer and schemer set up. On  being asked about being a Halal slaughterman, Javid said “You have to be a true Muslim, you can’t go out boozing and rooting women and do the job, you have to be a fair dinkum Muslim.”’

Feed Your Mind Film Your Planet

Thanks to Colin S for the link to this bijou project. There are some videos up already. I’m giving it a go and I reckon some of you out there might like to also or know someone who does.

Also from John Newton, a link to an excellent article about the appropriation of food for political purposes. It sparked a lively discussion among some of us on whether there were other situations in which the same has happened. Examples like the rivalry between Australian and New Zealand foodies on the origin of the pavlova, or Franco advocating paella as a unifying dish in Spain or the choosing of pad Thai as the national dish via a PM sponsored competition were all mentioned but fall short of what’s described in the article. Anyone else have any examples?

3D food printing
I have been following a thread on 3D food printing in the food-culture Google Group of the American Society for Food Studies (I think that’s the correct name)  and am gobsmacked (an appropriate foodie expression) at what is happening in this area.

Just a couple of quick links for you that have set my head buzzing and about which I have more questions than answers. The Natural Machines one in particular has me flabbergasted as to wha?!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This week's compost

 Pear, apple, chili cheese and honey liqueur from the weekly market in Orvieto

Conflict Kitchen

This project is quite extraordinary as is the current attacks on it because its current iteration is on Palestine as per this link courtesy of Alice P Julier and the food-culture group of the American Society for Food Studies to which I subscribe.

Happily I reckon it wouldn’t raise a whisper of controversy in Aus.

Sunbeam highlight competitive nature of cooking in new campaign from The Works

 A different kind of conflict kitchen.

Halal products may be finding Islamist extremism, claims Nationals MP
‘Christensen says there’s no way to know where the funds from halal-certified goods end up. He said it was “outrageous” his grocery dollars were going towards a “religious tax” – listing halal-approved products such as Vegemite, Corn Flakes and Freddo frogs.’
I’m way more worried about there his grocery dollars are going in his diet.

The Paeleolithic diet and the unprovable links to our past
 ‘Even among arctic people such the as Inuit whose diet was entirely animal foods at certain times, geneticists have failed to find any mutations enhancing people’s capacity to survive on such an extreme diet.
Research from anthropology, nutritional science, genetics and even psychology now also shows that our food preferences are partly determined in utero and are mostly established during childhood from cultural preferences within our environment. The picture is rapidly emerging that genetics play a pretty minor role in determining the specifics of our diet. Our physical and cultural environment mostly determines what we eat.’

Hey, I’ve watched the Flintstones and I KNOW that Fred liked nothing better than a huge chunk of mastodon steak after a hard day’s work at the gravel pit, with no green stuff, while Wilma merely picked at a salad to keep that hourglass figure.

Honey you sprayed the kids
I hope you can view this = it’s a triffic little animation on bees.

Barley was key to lofty Tibetan life
New Scientist 29 November 2014 reports that a shift to farming barley, which is frost resistant, may have enable farming communities which had had an intermittent presence on the Tibetan Plateau as long as 20,000 years ago to make the shift to permanent occupation at heights above 2.5 kilometres by around 3600 years ago. It’s posited that barley, originally from the Middle East, came to these communities post the opening up around 4500 years ago of what we now call the Silk Road, the vast trade route across Asia.
Nice one barley J
Vale Pie Face, gone to join Australia’s other fallen fast food chains
‘At any rate, the honeymoon is over and Pie Face looks set to join the long list of food chains Australia has fallen out of love with. Some of them are still around, but like the lyrics to Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, they’re cold and they’re ashamed, lying naked on the floor.’
I’d love to think it’s because Aussies are getting their taste buds back, but that would be too much to credit I suspect.

Business and entrepreneurs seize opportunities in rise of veganism
‘David Benzaquen, CEO of PlantBased Solutions, a US-based marketing agency, credits the rise of private investors putting millions into food start-ups, and the growing consumer base of “flexitarians” as real drivers for change in the US market. “Consumers being both more aware of big animal agriculture, its impact on the environment and their own health, as well as campaigns such as Meatless Mondays, are key contributing factors to more people trying plant-based foods”
That word entrepreneur...look out for the $40 vegan burger coming soon to a high end restaurant near you. The ridiculous thing is of course that vegans can eat very very well indeed cheaply across a range of cuisines right now and indeed always have been. Indeed, the larger proportion of the world, I reckon, continues to be vegan...but of course they don’t live in Notting Hill or Newtown so they count in this ‘trend’.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

This week's compost

Red Hen Recipes- Rewriting the Online Recipe from "Seed to Fork"
‘Red Hen Recipes is a user-generated recipe website that allows supports people in tracing a single ingredient from where it was grown to how it was cooked and eaten. If you participate you will fill out a short registration survey (15 mins) and use the online software to create a Red Hen Recipe- this might mean anything from visiting a farmers' market or farm, growing herbs on a balcony, to cooking in the kitchen.’

I have contributed a recipe and I am looking forward to the follow up interview. Why not give it a go?

Illegal foragers are stripping UK forests of fungi
 ‘The growing popularity of foraging for wild food may be part of the problem, says Sue Ireland, director of green spaces for the City of London Corporation, which manages Epping forest: “In rural areas, foraging is fine if you are picking for your own personal use.” But the difference with Epping Forest is that it is on the doorstep of the millions of people in London and can even be reached by tube train.’

Legal foraging...kinda sounds contradictory. I can’t see my mate Charlie-across-the-road and his Portuguese, Spanish and Middle European annual mushroom foragers registering for a licence. Granted, as far as I know, they mostly forage for home use and not for sale. Granted too that as far as I know there are only a few fungi types that are foraged in Oz and that the pressure on them is probably not as great – it is somewhat of a hassle to get to the pine forests around Orange for example. But there is still something damned if you do and damned if you don’t about this story to me that is unsettling.

Every fish you eat is an environmental mystery, but would you pay more to know the truth?
 ‘I used to have an open mind about sustainable seafood. After countless boat journeys, visits to numerous fish farms, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants while filming What’s the Catch?, a seafood documentary for SBS, I’ve now got a very strong opinion on eating fish: if you don’t know what’s on your plate, if you can’t be sure you aren’t part of the annihilation of the ocean, then don’t eat seafood.’

I’m looking forward to the program. I’m not hopeful, though,  that many people can handle the truth let alone pay more to know it.

Peking duck fans targeted in animal welfare ad blitz in Chinatown
Animal welfare activists have launched an advertising campaign with images of sick and distressed ducks at NSW farms, targeting Sydney's Chinese community, who they claim is fuelling the demand for duck meat.
Animal Liberation wants to raise awareness that millions of the birds are suffering on Australian farms because they are routinely deprived of water to swim or bathe in, it says.

"Water deprivation is one of the most severe welfare concerns within modern farming practices because ducks are designed for a life on water," campaign manager Emma Hurst said.... Jonathan Yee, owner of the sprawling Emperor's Garden Restaurant at the paifang entrance into Chinatown, said it was unfair to target Chinese businesses because duck was featured in many cuisines. "The ads should be in other suburbs, because duck is not just in Chinatown. To have it where one cuisine is predominantly based, that's quite biased," he said.

I had no idea of the practice being described and do find it damnable. I do, however, also register the concern of Jonathon Yee at the targeting of the campaign in Chinatown, or indeed at the Chinese community as a whole if that is the substance of the campaign.

Shut up and Eat. A foodie repents
‘If shopping and cooking really are the most consequential, most political acts in my life, perhaps what that means is that our sense of the political has shrunk too far—shrunk so much that it fits into our recycled-hemp shopping bags. If these tiny acts of consumer choice are the most meaningful actions in our lives, perhaps we aren’t thinking and acting on a sufficiently big scale. Imagine that you die and go to Heaven and stand in front of a jury made up of Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Your task would be to compose yourself, look them in the eye, and say, “I was all about fresh, local, and seasonal.”

Provocative in the best way. Lanchester doesn’t quite repent, but does ask questions that resonate with me, as I too, become a person who promotes ‘fresh, local and seasonal’ knowing that I am privileged and so can make these choices. However, I take some comfort from going that small step further when I can to also talk, post, write about the wider politics of feeding the world and take actions when they present themselves even if it is as minimal as signing an online petition. I am a community development worker in my other life and I know how necessary it is to give people opportunities to do what they can with their personal and social resources to add to the quantum of change.

Thanks to Ross and Maria Kelly for bringing the article to my attention.

Are seaweed snacks the future as the tide turns on meat consumption?
 ‘A 2010 Wageningen University study estimated that a seaweed farm covering 180,000 square kilometres - roughly the size of Washington State - could provide enough protein for the world’s population. And scientists at Sheffield Hallam University have previously concluded that seaweed granules could replace salt (pdf) in cheese, bread, sausages and processed food such as supermarket ready meals. Even though seaweed is constantly being touted as a superfood and has captured the imagination of trend chefs, there is generally still an aversion to eating it. Part of the problem is it’s a food that’s often been associated with poverty.’

Oh, gawd, here we go again...overpriced ‘superfood’ coming to a trendy restaurant and providore near you any second now. Anyone wanna come kelp raking with me at Bondi?

 Chilaw fish market
 I love Sri Lankan town and village fish markets – raw, immediate, prolific, and enough sand and grit to horrify Australian Council Health Inspectors.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This week's compost

To kick off, two wonderful clips. Now, put these guys on at a food event in Sydney and I will spend days in line in a sleeping bag drinking really bad coffee and eating cronuts to be first to grin stoopidly and take a gazillion pics and love/hate myself for eating the end product...are you SURE that you can’t keep fairy floss under your pillow 4evah?

Gourmet F & D Quiz: This week’s question
Where were French fries invented.

Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts and Cookbooks
‘Handwritten cookbooks, ca. 1600s-1960s, documenting culinary history in America and Europe and how tastes have changed over the years. Help improve access to these historic documents by transcribing handwritten pages, reviewing transcriptions (look for items marked "Needs Review"), and correcting typewritten text.’

I wish I had the time to put into what looks like a terrific project – anyone know if any library in Aus is doing something like this – there must be similar handwritten cookbooks out there.

And if you haven’t checked it out before you might like to see the ebook I have done of my grandmother’s cookbook.
Putting Food on the Table. Food Security is Everyone’s Business. The Inaugural Food Security Conference of the Right to Food Coalition. 13-14th October 2014
I couldn’t get to the Conference so it’s great that the presentations have been put up so soon. Here’s some that I have had a look at and recommend watching.

A terrific challenging presentation by Brigit Bussichia on the institutionalising of food banks as a way that governments can avoid scrutiny of government policies that lead to poverty which leads to food insecurity, presented at the. Thanks Kay Richardson for alerting me to it. The song at the end is a hoot!

Karen Beetson’s narrative about her experience of food insecurity as an Aboriginal woman is a salutary reminder that food insecurity is not a new phenomenon in Australia.  It is one of those talks whose honesty is humbling and compelling and again raises really important questions about the kinds of judgements that are made about the choices or lack thereof that people in poverty have to put good food on the table, particularly where extended family obligations are a further complication.

The full info on the conference is at
John West and Princes accused of backtracking on tuna commitments
‘The two biggest tuna fish brands in the UK are privately looking at delaying or reviewing public commitments to eliminate the use of controversial fishing methods, leaked documents show. In 2011, Princes and John West pledged to phase out the use of purse seine nets and fish aggregation devices (FADs) which are used to attract tuna but can inadvertently lead to the deaths of other marine life such as sharks, rays and turtles. Each company has around a third of the UK market share for tinned tuna.’
Looking forward to Matthew Evans up-coming program on Aus fishing practices. Meantime, I reckon I can reject the fish John West catches.

Are solar farms really hitting British food production?
‘The environment secretary, Liz Truss, has stripped farmers of subsidies for solar farms, saying they are a “blight” that was pushing food production overseas. But the new minister has fundamentally misunderstood the way solar farms operate, according to the solar industry and farmers.... “This misguided attack by the environment secretary deliberately ignores the fact that the planning system is already there to prevent unsightly and overly dominant solar farms or their deployment on high-quality productive agricultural land. Where they do go ahead on poorer grade soils, planning conditions should ensure that they boost biodiversity and revert back to their original use when appropriate.”
The environment secretary, it is revealed at the end of the article, is a former ‘oil executive’...nope, no conspiracy theory to see, here, move along please.

Analysis: Maps of Australian language – swimmers versus cozzies, scallops versus potato cakes
‘The terms for the fried potato snack show a divide between the southern states, with potato cake favoured in Victoria and southern New South Wales, changing to scallop or potato scallop in NSW through to Queensland. South Australians maintain some individuality with the term potato fritter.’

The Greek caff at Liverpool railway station knew they were scallops, thank heaven...and yes, they were cooked in god-knows-how-old-oil and the more flavoursome for it, doused in malt vinegar (none of your foofy balsamic), and crusted with salt, all wrapped in butcher’s paper (I knew butcher’s were on the way out when it began being called ‘flip-chart’ paper) that of course was guaranteed not to last the distance from the shop to home via the back of the bus – and I hesitate to think where we wiped our fingers but let’s just say brylcreem came a poor second.

Faith and fears in Wendell Berry’s Kentucky
‘Berry told the conference that when the industrial food system finally reckons with its limitations and breathes its last breath, there needs to be a knowledgeable community pushing the way forward. “That’s why this little nucleus of people is so important,” he said.’

I don’t see the industrial food system breathing its last in my lifetime if ever and I’m not convinced that its demise would be particularly helpful to meeting food scarcity. Making the industrial food systems more ecologically sustainable on the other hand I think can help.

F & D Quiz Answer