Saturday, February 28, 2015

This Week's Compost

Waste free cafe to close over compost dispute


‘Melbourne's first zero-waste cafe will close its doors next week after a long-running stoush with the city's council over a compost bin. In a bitter end to the dispute, popular cafe Brothl was last month served with an eviction notice after it refused to pay the City of Melbourne more than $10,000 to store its composter outside.’

The idiocy of this boggles more than my mind. A Council with any vision would be looking at ways to bring in composters like this under Council’s insurance policies and spruiking this action when they did.

From Barbara Santich

Didn’t you have a posting about ‘Israeli’ food recently? Now they’re claiming shakshuka -

I have also recently read a terrific article in Gastronomica ‘Resistance is Fertile’ about two ventures in Palestine where food and drink are being used in overtly political ways. If I can work out how to scan it and put it somewhere on the interweb I will.


Custard tart fight: can the British version ever compete with Portugal’s pasties de nata


‘I’m in Lisbon listening to some live fado, the Portuguese folk music that expresses the sorrows and yearnings of ordinary people. Among these songs of love and loss is a hymn to the joys of Pastéis de Belém, the original version of the most traditional cake in Portugal, the pastel de nata, or custard tart. “Served with cinnamon or just as it is,” sings the lyricist Leonel Moura, “This beautiful delicacy has no equal in the world.”


So, natas are Portuguese, and there is apparently a British version which originated in East Anglia ‘as early as mediaeval times’. Whence then the Chinese egg tart, staple of yum cha?


 The egg tart eventually made its way to Hong Kong, where it was influenced by British custard tarts, which are a bit more glassy and smooth.’


Which sounds right. Anyone got any further insights?


For safety’s sake make food labels say what companies already know


Okay, I am as much a critic of transglobal food chains as your average aussie monocultural farmer, but I dunno, this whole incident I reckon is being hijacked in xenophobic and faux protectionist ways. No amount of labelling of country of origin is going to ensure that somewhere sometime some quantity of a product is not going to have greebies that will cause some people to get sick.


Sandwich Mafia let’s alleged Subway blackmailer go free


The Supreme Court subsequently found Mr Singhal was responsible for creating and releasing the materials, ordering that he pay damages to the company. But Subway last week decided to drop its claim for compensation. Victoria Police has also confirmed that no formal complaint has been made against Mr Singhal for blackmail. A spokesman for Subway said the company was "satisfied" with the outcome of the court proceedings.’

Well I am NOT satisfied with the outcome. In the first instance, I have not been alerted to viewing any of the Youtube videos that apparently gave away the ‘secrets’ of Subways creations. In the second instance I am disappointed that the ‘Sandwich Mafia’ chose to take the matter through legal process rather than encasing the offender in a very large roll, smothering him in special sauce, and feeding him to the sharks – though maybe they knew that even the sharks might balk at dining on a Sub.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015



From Barbara Santich


Didn’t you have a posting about ‘Israeli’ food recently? Now they’re claiming shakshuka -





Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Saturday, February 14, 2015

This week's compost

Feedback: From Jacqui Newling on Juan Carlo Tomas’ article How to host the perfect Australia Day barbeque

I do love the idea of the Cape of Good Hope being the first fleet's 7-11! That'd be the fancier wine licensed one, with Batavia the nearest corner store. And Carlo's right when he said lamb was the first meat chosen to celebrate their arrival (claim) but it was Feb 7 by the time they'd got everyone unloaded, and the sheep, killed the night before for the officers dinner, was maggot infested by the time they were ready to eat it!

Fish was the first fresh food eaten by first fleeters as they arrived in Botany Bay (between Jan 18-20). And same in Port Jackson, by the scouting party at Camp Cove (Watsons Bay) on Jan 24...


But let's not get facts in the way of a very entertaining Oz Day piece - all good fun!


And I'm keen to see what the gourmet soldier makes of the Anzac biscuit in the WW1 campaign book. [Yet to order it Jacqui  - Paul]


Foodie Question

Some of us were talking the other day about the phrase ‘meat and three veg’ to describe typical Australian food of a certain era pejoratively.  The question was raised as to whence the term originated. We wondered if it was perhaps a marketing ploy to get consumers to buy some product that supposedly compared more favourably.


I found references as below to ‘meat and two veg’ in the context of British food.


But I can’t find an Australian reference  - the Macquarie was of no help.


Anyone out there got any ideas?


Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals

A nifty idea executed simply and well. The Kafka/Metamorphosis is a fave for a forager like me; the madeliene is inevitable but perfect for all that; and I would be more than happy to down Queequeg’s chowder.


Explore the science of flavour

“Freshness is a product attribute that is often linked to quality,” says Rachel, “so the fact that you can manipulate freshness by changing the sound a food makes is very interesting.”


But will anything make flaccid iceberg lettuce taste crisp?


Tasty treat: How we showed fat to be the sixth taste.

Various researchers have since identified fatty acid receptors on taste cells as well as identifying the most likely cellular candidates. Even further evidence for a fat taste was the discovery of fat-sensitive neurons in the taste-processing region of the brain.’


Homer Simpson will be un-surprised....’Mmmmm...fat J ‘. Neato description on how to determine whether something can be considered a ‘taste’ along with the used-to-be-four-now-five tastes.  Interesting also the relationship between being able to taste fat and BMI.


The Katering Show

Wet rice never was as much fun to prepare.  J



Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Wednesday, February 4, 2015


21 nations where people eat their national symbol

Ah yes, nothing like the smell of an urban myth grilling away on our spurious national day...


This posting is occasioned by our own Juan Carlo Tomas’ article How to host the perfect Australia day barbecue.


Food and battlefields

Alison Vincent sent to me the link below.


My first response was that it was gratuitously exploitative, cashing on the hundredth anniversary of WW1 and in particular on the fiasco of Gallipoli and that the male half of the authors is a serving officer in the Australian Army who has been on My Kitchen Rules. I went to the site and it all got a bit weirder. The couple who have written the book also are running Culinary Battlefield Tours about which they write:

An idea was hatched on a family trip to the Somme in 2010 to one day develop tours that would encompass both interests.  It was noticed that many couples travelling have differing interests, sometimes the men could spend hours looking at bullet holes and trenches and their partners would be just as happy enjoying the local cuisine.’ They have run one so far in Vietnam and report that ‘The guests loved it and we found the roles had sometimes reversed - with the men being the more interested in learning some cooking tips!’ Yes, yes, red rag to a anti-sexist bull.


Then Alison also sent me this link:


My first response to this one was gee, that’s interesting, and wow I wonder if it’s really true that the Indian continent eat chapattis. But then I thought, is this any less exploitative in its own way? It’s hardly a surprise to find a field kitchen on a battlefield is it? It’s pretty clear the release of the info is timed to coincide with the Anzac commemoration this year.  Does the jovial tone get excused because it’s a report of academic research? We are still talking about a bloody (and I use the term descriptively) horrific battle and here we are speculating on whether the soldiers about to be slaughtered could smell...what...kebabs?


Then Charmaine Obrien said that she knows someone doing a PhD using soldiers diaries to look at what influence being in other countries had on soldiers and their foodways – I think that’s right, Charmaine? My first response to this was gee that’s a piece of research I would really like to see, and that remains my response. I don’t have any feelings of antipathy to it. It raises no questions for me about exploitation. But then I have to wonder, is my response to it because again it is within an academic framework and that it’s not time linked to capitalise on the upcoming commemorations?


I am fascinated by my different degrees of comfort with these three approaches to food and battlefields. I have decided that I really ought to at least have a look at the cookbook before I judge too harshly.


I welcome others’ thoughts. When do cookbooks/culinary tours cross the line? Does anyone know of similar ventures in other countries? What makes one use of subject matter exploitative and another use of similar subject matter not exploitative/


The Language of Food. A linguist reads the menu

Phew! After that little venture into moral morasses, it’s lovely to be able to report that I found much pleasure in The Language of Food, Dan Jurafsky’s tracing of the evolution of specific food items and foodways through linguistic borrowings, generalisations and other more arcane philological pathways. There’s lovely stuff here for example in the chapter From Sikbaj via ceviche to fish and chips, yes, truly; or the travels of ketchup; and a chapter on Why Ice Cream and Crackers Have Different Names that had me trying out the placement of vowels in my mouth. Along the way there is also some gentle prodding for greater tolerance...and that’s not a bad thing either.


Its published by W. W. Norton & Company Inc, 2014.


Scientists have discovered a way to ‘unboil’ eggs – and it may be a life saver

“There are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material,” says Gregory Weiss, professor of chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of California Irvin.


Sounds like some of my jam efforts. Please please please do NOT tell the Heston Blumenthal’s of the world about this. I really do not want to have a deconstructed boiled egg as the new fad.


Spam Art


How could I resist posting this. It’s Spam. It’s from Durango!! J


Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Saturday, January 17, 2015

This Week's Compost


The Moody Blues first album was titled Days of Future Past which serves as an apt enough title for this week’s compost.


Easy as Pie

Brian Wansink writing in New Scientist, January 10, 2015, summarised findings from research he has undertaken into how to ‘tweak our homes, workplaces, schools, restaurant dining and grocery shopping so we mindlessly eat less instead of more’, to reverse how we mindlessly eat too much.

·        Big plates mean big portions. We eat 22 percent less from a 25 centimetre plate than from a 30 centimetre one. And we eat 18 percent more when plate colour matches the food.

·        When the glass is on the table, people pour 12 percent less than if they were holding it in their hand (it’s to do with how the eye judges volume from different angles)

·        Women who keep cereal packets visible on kitchen shelves weigh on average 9.5 kilograms more than those who put them away. Those who leave fruit out weigh 3kg less than those who don’t.

·        People serve themselves more food if it’s within easy reach.

·        Serve form the stove or benchtop/counter rather than the table and you are likely to eat 19 percent less.

·        People serve themselves 14 percent less with smaller spoons.

·        A dish described as ‘crispy’ on a menu will have, on average, 131 more calorie than a non-crispy dish. Add 102 calories for ‘buttery’ but deduct 60 for ‘roasted’.

·        Diners near the window order more side salads and fewer drinks.

·        People sitting closest to the bar drink more than those further away.

·        People who sit tucked away in a cosy corner booth tend to tuck into more deserts.


You have been warned.


Cooking by numbers

Niall Firth, also writing in New Scientist, January 10, 2015, describes a prototype cooking app – ChefWatson -  which is a partnership between IBM – they provide Watson, their

‘superbrain’ computer – and Bon Appetit – they contribute a 9000 recipe based tagged by ingredient, type of dish and cooking style – whereby Watson ‘creates a statistical correlation between ingredients, styles andrecipe steps to create new recipes. Firth tested it: ‘In a creamy pasta dish (I had opted for the ‘elegant’ style’) crème fraiche had been replaced by milk. Another time, with a high experimental setting, Watson tole me my tuna bake needed half a kilo of goose meat. I declined.’


Well, I am up for the challenge and have completed an exhaustive two question survey on the test site to see if I too can be an experimenter. Should I get the opp, I will of course report on the recipe and its execution.


Paleo diets to wacky wines: some fads we’d like to leave behind in 2014

Kale gets KOed. Jamie gets jammed. Paleos get pummelled. Your turn...


Starbucks adds flat white: A 'wet cappuccino' or a small latte? Controversy brews

‘Workshop Espresso barista Levi Hamilton said the flat white was neither a wet cappuccino nor a dry latte.

"The real difference is the amount of froth on top. Cappuccino actually translates to 'cap of foam', so it has the most amount of foam.’


Would you buy a coffee from this nong? As for the Starbuck’s description of what they are about to foist on the US public...


What drives our wine choice – taste, or the price tag?

‘For consumers, the results imply that price may or may not infer quality. In other words, consumers should be wary of using price as a sole indicator of a wine’s quality. This implies that better informed buyers could potentially identify bargains in the short run. In this context expert wine guides potentially play an important role and I have developed a web-based tool called the Australian Wine Price Calculator to help identify under and over-priced wines.’


The conclusions of the study are not rocket (or wine) science; I find them intuitive. But gee, I love the calculator. The Durif I wanted to buy, grown in the Clare Valley, vintage 2011, drinking cellaring year 2021 with a quality score of 94 should be on the shelf at the local bottle-o for $31.53, so I am off to battle-o it out with the mob down the road who want to charge me $35. Now, someone needs to app the calculator (yes, I did just verb app – someone had to).


The sauces that fell from favour

‘Remember when we thought tartare sauce was the height of sophistication? Makers of voguish barbecue and piri-piri would do well to remember that all fashionable sauces have a shelf-life …’


I think including garum in here is a tad red herring (or in this case grey anchovy) as the other four are of somewhat more recent provenance. And I would dispute that ‘brown sauce’ is ‘completely essential’ to a ‘bacon sarnie’ which I assume is a bacon sandwich for which I an argument could be made for tomato sauce as essential or barbecue sauce (unless that is what is meant by brown sauce here?). White sauce I think has fallen out of fashion here which is a shame as a good white sauce has its place- on cauliflower for one. Chipotle sauce on the other hand is getting far too much attention; give me a good chilli chocolate mole with my pork any day.

Cadbury Crème Egg recipe change angers chocolate lovers

‘It's the recipe change which has shocked chocolate lovers across the world.’


Really? I love chocolate and I couldn’t give a stuff.


Breeding flies and edible plastic: the kitchen of the future

‘So how does the Fungi Mutarium work? At its most simple, bits of plastic are placed into egg-shaped containers made from agar, the fungi is inserted and consumes the plastic, and the result is edible mushroom material.’


There goes the Tupperware party!


Food Security Organisations

I thought I would draw your attention to a couple of the sites I follow that focus on food security issues.







Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Friday, January 2, 2015

This Week's Compost

An early edition so you can enjoy some of the stories in Helen Greenwood’s contribution


YEAR IN EATER 2014 . The Year's 15 Best Longform Food Stories

Courtesy of Helen Greenwood, this didn’t quite make it into the NYE edition, but as all of you are like the rest of Australia no doubt still on summer hols – happy reading J


And thanks Helen for putting me on to another site to indulge myself at/on/with.


Chris Crowley’s story of Denise Chavez is a great slapdown for the badboy chefs of the food world. Lance Richardson’s piece should not be read in the dark. John Reed’s is darkly humorous, not really a food story I guess in the same was as Arsenic and Old Lace wasn’t a food film. Romig’s is a fascinating portrait of an Indian restaurant entrepreneur, found of the Saravana Bhavan chain in Chennai and now in many cities where Southern Indian communities have been established, with one in Parramatta listed on the website which I haven’t visited, and clearly not related to the Hotel Saravana Bhavan in Croydon, which had sad to say taken a turn for the worse.


Kanga pies

We’re two adventurous mates with a passion for food and love of travel. Back in 2010, we both lived in Australia and discovered the deliciousness that is an Aussie meat pie. It was the perfect setting: Sun, sand, beach… and pies! Quickly adapting to the land down under, we found it very convenient to grab a pie after a surf, or after the bar. Soon, we were like the locals stopping at the local bakeshop for a takeaway lunch pie.’


A Sri Lankan foodie mate of mine in Toronto (Canada not NSW) tells me she loves the pies from here. The range is quirky and a couple of pics are a turn off but ‘Go you good things!’ say I.


The Vintage Menu Collector: 25,000 Restaurants by One Woman

“Her principal method of acquisition was to write to every restaurant she could think of, soliciting menus. When letters failed, she often marched into a restaurant and pleaded her case in person. She also placed advertisements in trade publications like The Caterer and The Hotel Gazette, but just as often, published news of her collection prompted outright contributions of specimens from around the world.”


I guess I still have time to start my collection J



The question that won't die: is the meat pie Australia's national dish?

‘The official AFC Asian Cup Facebook page seems to have decided a question which has agonised Australians for years by declaring the meat pie our national dish.

The page has put together the “national dishes” of the countries participating. Snuggled among machboos for Kuwait and sushi for Japan is the meat pie for Australia.’


The discussion thread is a hoot, like all those who leapt to defend Australia (kangaroo and emu) as not being the only country to eat its national emblems, examples contra being France (poultry) and Wales (leeks) I know Wales isn’t a country but you get the point), and the one who suggested Australia’s national dish is Kylie Minogue.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This Week's Compost

Hi all, last edition for this year J


Looking forward to an equally fertile year ahead.


Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap


‘We found the novel result that two agricultural diversification practices, multi-cropping and crop rotations, substantially reduce the yield gap (to 9 ± 4% and 8 ± 5%, respectively) when the methods were applied in only organic systems. These promising results, based on robust analysis of a larger meta-dataset, suggest that appropriate investment in agroecological research to improve organic management systems could greatly reduce or eliminate the yield gap for some crops or regions.’


Who’d have thought, eh. The metaphor is unavoidable: diversification good, homogenisation bad.


Out of your noggin? Festive spices and their intoxicating history

In the 19th century, the mind-altering properties of nutmeg were described by Czech physiologist Purkinje in the form of dream imagery and an inordinately long walk to the Royal Theatre in Berlin. More recently nutmeg has been considered something of a prison drug with cannabis-like effects. In his autobiography, African-American human rights activist Malcolm X wrote about his prison experience with nutmeg: a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers.

Ah yes, the days of nutmeg and other kitchen cupboard highs, I recall them well...or not so well cause, well, I did say ‘highs’.


How Christmas pudding evolved with Australia


‘Having survived a century of popularity despite not being suited to the seasons, the Christmas pudding came to have a more Australian character after 1900. The introduction of water to the desert through the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme allowed New South Wales farmers in the Riverina to produce greater quantities of citrus fruit which was preserved as candied peel, and grapes for drying as raisins and for wine. By the 1950s, Australian port and sherry were the recommended liquors in which to soak the dried fruit for the Christmas pudding ingredients. The pudding may not have originated in Australia but by now its ingredients certainly did.’

A lovely piece of research and writing  - though the Christmas pud will never win over the Sri Lankan Christmas Cake in my household J



Behind the restaurant boom: the urban boom consuming our cities


“They haven’t the money to grow up, so they go out,” suggests the Manchester University anthropologist Sean Carey. They queue for burgers, eat at concept diners and Instagram the results – perhaps it makes an unliveable settlement bearable for a while.’


They all become baristas and/or craft beer brewers in Sydney.


10 Superfoods healthier than kale


Thanks to Helen Campbell for this link. I figured a while ago that kale was more superhype than superfood. I don’t have much truck with the idea of superfoods generally. Still, it’s good to see beet greens being given a good rap, ditto watercress, and I am dying to see lettuce now heralded as a superfood on supermarket shelves – revenge is a dish best eaten ice berged.



Cut price ‘ugly’ supermarket food won’t reduce waste – here’s why


‘In affluent countries like France and Australia, access to cheaper food doesn’t mean less household food waste. What’s more, charging lower prices for ugly fruit and vegetables also neglects the fact that the same labour is required to produce and harvest crops, regardless of their appearance. Thus ugly food helps to perpetuate a food system that undervalues food, in which consumers routinely buy too much and throw away the leftovers.’


I attended a talk last year on food waste and there is a way in which encouraging supermarkets to sell ugly food does indeed reduce waste and that’s at the production end where growers aren’t forced to toss away the ugly fruit in the first place. A couple of weeks ago at my local farmers’ market a grower had a box of white cherries all of which showed an off-putting brown bruise. It was only the result of wind damage, I was told, so I bought some and the ugliness was indeed only skin deep, the pulp being absolutely unspoiled and delicious to boot. Now, I would rather that grower was encouraged to bring the fruit to market and sell it cheap and risk some wastage by the buyer – there wasn’t in my case – than ditch them because one of the Big Two wouldn’t take on the ugly fruit.



Top 10 Australian native foods you need in your kitchen


This buzz is spreading to growers, and more farmers are now trying their hand at growing native foods such as quandong, finger lime, and lemon myrtle. An Australian crop lends a hand in maintaining Australia's botanical diversity and reduces the 'food miles' your dinner has travelled to your plate.’


Not sure that I ‘need’ them in my kitchen, and I reckon claiming that growing these en masse somewhere and trucking them in to a grocer or market is not doing a heap for reducing ‘food miles’, but if I can get quandongs in season and in bulk to make jam, bring it on. Mind you, it’s not that hard to grow a finger lime tree, warrigal greens or samphire, or lemon myrtle in a back yard in Sydney and that would certainly be a better reduced of food miles  - and of course warrigal greens are quite capable of doing a fair bit of food miles on their own.


Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon