Friday, August 30, 2013

This week's compost

Slim pickings this week folk. Also, I’m off to Sri Lanka for three weeks so there may be something of a hiatus in adding to the compost till I return depending on access to wifi or reliable modems J

1.  The trouble with truffles; they’re not worth the hype or the price 

‘To me, they are the epitome of conspicuous consumption. More power to you if you’re ordering the truffle supplement purely to show you can afford it – go wild, light up a cigar with a wad of 50s while you’re at it. Take a big breath of what you hope is that rich, fetid armpit musk.’

Love the smell of iconoclasm at brekkie. Love the smell and taste of a good truffle, too, but I agree I have had some indifferent experiences with them, too. I stored a particularly triffic one in with Arborio rice and it worked well in infusing said grain with a perfume if not a noticeable flavour hit.

     2. Jamie Olive bemoans, chips, cheese and giant tvs of modern poverty 

    ‘Some poorer Britons choose to eat "chips and cheese out of Stryrofoam containers" while    sitting in a room with a "massive fucking TV", Jamie Oliver has said, adding that he cannot  understand "modern-day poverty in Britain".’

     Hmmm...I’m not sure what Oliver thinks ‘olden-day poverty’ was like.

3. Jamie Oliver you haven’t tasted real poverty.Cut out the tutting 

‘I like Oliver, on the whole. I think his heart is in the right place. If he genuinely wants to help, he needs to continue campaigning for better availability of good produce, better nutritional teaching in schools, healthier ready meals, less advertising targeted at children and a culture that educates rather than judges. He needs to stop publishing books, the last one of which was judged one of the unhealthiest on the market, while internally tutting at the deplorable lack of quinoa in "poor communities". He needs to understand that the choice between having a TV or a mojito fruit salad is a bogus one, for the 13 million people living in poverty in the UK right now.’

A response to the above. Don’t know what the reference to that last book is – not an Oliver collector. I am hoping the line about quinoa is satirical.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This week's compost

1.  The Hot Potato Recipe Book.

A lovely small intervention in the on-going debate about asylum seekers in Australia. Can’t wait for the food cart to get to Sydney J

2. Le diner des sons

“Transformer de l'electro en plats haute gastronomie, c'est possible. A Oslo, le producteur norvégien Lindstrøm et un chef étoilé l'ont fait.

Quel rôle joue la musique en cuisine? En général, celui de fond sonore pendant la préparation, parfois aussi au moment de la dégustation. Et pourquoi ne pas la mettre au milieu de l’assiette?”

My French is worse than useless but I got the gist of this, particularly looking at the images and listening to the tracks. Old fogies warning: The music is heavily electronic and beat driven. Can’t see any reference to the Futurists in the story and it’s a whole lot tamer and less humorous than the wonderful meals described in said group’s cookbook.

     3.  Fast food scans

Compelling and repellant in about equal measure.

4. Op shop cookbook recipes serve up lashings of 70s nostalgia

“It's an alien style of cooking. We've become more conscious about what we eat and how we cook over the years, but it's also clear that we are much heavier on flavour. The growth of immigration, foreign travel and the fusion of Asian and European tastes have made us expect that added kick to almost everything we eat.”

I am always grateful that by the 70s I was living away from home in student houses where eating ethnic was both a cheap option and some kind of commitment to being multicultural. Many of my student friends were first generation Australians and we would take it in turns to cook from our home cuisine. I was regularly called on to make curries. Similarly, when we went out it was ethnic restaurants that were popping up all over the place; again because they were cheap and certainly because they were full on hits of flavour that many of us did not get when we went back home to do our washing once a week or receive our allowance. I was lucky that dad used my visits as an excuse to cook his curries which I would then adapt back in the group households. When we made things like curried egg or French onion dip it was for those parties where everyone drank out of casks and smoked rollies topped with mj and these creamy mayo heavy dishes that could be scooped up with Jatz or water crackers (corn chips were yet to appear) were the perfect accompaniment – easy to handle, rich and absolutely munchies satisfying.

      5. Assessing the influence of the colour of the plate on the perception of a complex food in a restaurant setting
Flavour 2013, 2:24

No link for this one but I know you want to know the results of this research. 

“The study reported here was conducted in a real restaurant (and eating situation) with three different desserts (made from various elements of different colors, flavors and textures) in order to assess the extent to which the crossmodal perceptual effects found in laboratory settings can be generalized to naturalistic testing conditions. Specifically, our research questions were: Which color of plate will make each dessert seem more appetizing? Which color of plate will the color intensity of the desserts appear enhanced? Will the perception of certain sensory attributes (for example, flavour intensity) be affected by the visual perception (for example, color intensity)? Will flavor liking ratings be affected by the appearance-liking ratings? Additionally, will there be a consistent pattern of results between the different color of plates used, and between the visual and taste-related attributes assessed?”

Dessert A was a fraisier (main colors: yellow, white and red), Dessert B was a fraicheur of raspberry and vanilla (main colors: light brown, white and red), and Dessert C consisted of a vacherin glacé with vanilla, raspberry and basil (main colors light pink, white and cream).

The plates were either white or black.

Conclusion: ‘The present study showed that the color of the plate affected consumers’ perception mainly for the attributes based on visual appraisal (liking the presentation of the dish, how appetizing the dessert looked and the color intensity of the dessert). The attributes of the desserts, such as the flavor and sweetness intensity, were affected mainly by the type of dessert served, but the extent to which these attributes were affected depended on the plate (background color) as well. Some of the results can be explained in terms of color contrast; however, the associations that consumers can hold for certain colors and flavors (regarding the intensity dimension) can play an important role too. Therefore, these findings contribute to the emerging literature on how extrinsic variables can influence food perception, highlighting that the impact is dependent on the specific food evaluated and that results in real life conditions can be slightly diminished as compared to laboratory conditions. Certainly, more research is needed to confirm the validity and robustness of such results. Nevertheless, chefs can capitalize on these findings and further exploit the characteristics of the plates in order to discover potential new ways to systematically enhance expectations, perception and experience of food, apart from modifying the ingredients and decoration of the food, and mostly in situations where the plated food is showcased in advance prior to consumption.’

So there you have it. I think what was concluded was that the flavour of what you put on the table will be affected flavour.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

This weeks' compost

1. Food delivery by drones: coming to a restaurant near you.

Of course, many of us think that a lot of food in Sydney restaurants gets delivered by drones already. (Oooooooooooooh, I am going to get into soooooooooo much trouble for that!)

2.       Shoyu Ramen Burger

My daughter plans on making some for Father’s Day. I shall report on the likelihood of my ever eating another post then.

3.       The high cost of seafood fraud

“Swapping a lower cost fish for a higher value one is like ordering a filet mignon and getting a hamburger instead,” said report author and Oceana senior scientist Margot Stiles in a press release. “If a consumer eats mislabeled fish even just once a week, they could be losing up to hundreds of dollars each year due to seafood fraud.”

A brief report on a longer study by Oceana that can be found at

Am I wrong in assuming that we have stricter controls on substitution here in Oz?

4.       Why home-cooking from strangers may be the future of food

“Calas recently joined a year-old food cooperative called Mealku <>

that's built on the premise of people who don’t know each other sharing homemade food, with no money exchanged. If you’ve ever belonged to a meal-swap – I cook Monday if you cook Wednesday – picture scaling that up to an entire city, far beyond anyone’s natural circle of trust. Ted D’Cruz-Young, Mealku's creator, says the network currently has a "few thousand" members plus 31 bike messengers in New York City, with plans to expand to other cities later this year. These are the pioneers of the food frontier of "collaborative consumption," the growing niche of the economy where people are sharing instead of buying all kinds of consumables (cars, apartments, tools) in a behavior that seems less eccentric by the day.” <

Not the future of food, I reckon, but an interesting model in the practice of collaborative consumption that I am very taken with these days. I like the parallel here with the tiffin wallahs of India, those hardy souls who cycle the streets of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and such carrying hot lunches from homes to offices. And I also like it as a way of household level avoidance of waste in the same way as Oz Harvest and co do it for restaurants or food events. <>

Fat profits: How the food industry cashed in on obesity <>

“When obesity as a global health issue first came on the radar, the food industry sat up and took notice. But not exactly in the way you might imagine. Some of the world's food giants opted to do something both extraordinary and stunningly obvious: they decided to make money from obesity, by buying into the diet industry"

How many times does one have to say it...It's capitalism, stupid. Of course industries will find ways to continue to maximise their profits by diversifying and partnering up and other cabals to sell at both ends of a health spectrum. <> <>

6.       Food van on asylum seeker mission

"The Asylum Seeker issue has been an Australian political Hot Potato for as long as we can remember. Continually passed from one politician to another, who seem only to manipulate the facts to score points, without any action to actually solve the problem.”

Love the pun, love the idea, will hopefully get the chance to love the food.

Friday, August 2, 2013

This week's compost

      1. Chickpeace – Peace vs War Journalism

If you read nothing else of this week’s Compost, take 6 minutes to watch this today I reckon you will find it worth it.

My mate Nadyat El Gawley showed this clip at the Wollemi Common Peace Meal I organised last week.

As a foodie and a peacenik how could I not love it.

Play it a couple of times; first for the beauty of the images; second to consider the points it makes.

      2. Artisan food and urban ‘peasants’” is this more than just a foodie fad?

“But is it right to celebrate producers pursuing a back-to-the-land philosophy as "modern peasants"? After all, there are plenty of people in the world for whom living off the land is a grinding necessity, not a lifestyle choice. Tulloh acknowledges that the title of her book was deliberately chosen to create debate.

"One of the reasons I used the word 'peasant' is that I knew I could be accused of taking a rosy view of life – but it's provocative. If you're trying to raise awareness, it's good to poke people in the eye," she says. "We're grappling with a food system that's not working, and I wanted to highlight the people who are trying to change things."

This from an article re a new book hitting our foodies shelves The Modern Peasant: Adventures in City Food, Jojo Tulloh (this is the second person I have heard of called Jojo – Paul McCartney you have a lot to answer for apart from Mull of Kintyre!). Being somewhat a part of the backyard/rooftop/footpath food in the city mob here in Sydney myself, I am looking forward to reading the book. Tulloh sounds like she is aware of and addressed the incredulity the movement (and I guess it has earned to chops to be called a movement now) faces. I have no illusions that what I and others of the ilk are doing is anything like a solution to food scarcity/sustainability or bringing down agribusiness. For me it is an continuation of what my father used to do in our backyard and what I have always done when I could for the pleasure of the doing and the consuming of what I have grown.

      3. Can we cook ourselves thin?

“Not everybody thinks that home cooking is healthier than eating processed food. Although research has shown that families who cook and eat together are healthier and less likely to overeat, some argue that this is a correlation, rather than a causal link. Others point out that processed food contains added vitamins and other nutrients, and that fast food outlets such as McDonald's are cleaning up their act.

In a recent, polemical article for The Atlantic magazine, in which he accused the "wholesome food movement" of demonising fast-food producers, the writer David H Freedman claimed that the scientific studies on processed foods are inconclusive: "The fact is, there is simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy." Freedman even claimed that the fast-food giants could become our saviours, using industrial processes to make food healthier and cheaply available, if only the health-food lobby would let them.”

Does anyone know of a study/studies that goes further than showing just a correlation? Particularly any studies that looked at how much was cooked in the home x what was cooked x health ?

      4. Claire Hypercalcic Calcarasol and durum wheat

“Durum wheat is very hard, high in protein, and low in gluten, compared to bread wheat. Australia grows the most reliably high-quality durum wheat. It gets snapped up by Italian pasta makers (more than 50% of our exports of durum wheat are to Italy), as well as local ones like San Remo.”

This week’s good Aussie soil is quite a mouthful. And fancy us exporting durum what to Italy. What next, coals to Newcastle?

      5. How to meat a man in New Pork City

“Now, I have a boyfriend, but I do consider myself an amateur matchmaker. And I must say I have never seen such a promising bunch of men in my life. Many of them were extremely obsessed with pig butchery in a way that seemed like they weren’t looking for a significant other necessarily, but truly, I don’t think that matters. It is the element of surprise that men consider charming and romantic even when it is a lie. An enterprising person could so easily sidle up to a man and talk about a shared interest with lines like, “Hey, why do you want that pig to be delivered to you in a field?” or, “I forget what lard is.” “

Vegetarian and vegan alert: This story describes activities that may cause upset J

See, I KNEW I have been looking for love in all the wrong places. I mean, a roomful of men in glasses watching a pig being butchered...watching someone cut up a carrot just doesn’t do it for me.

      6. A new age for golden oldies

No link for this one. I nice short piece from Michelle Rowe, Food Detective, in the Australian A Plus section Saturday 3/8/2013 on the work being done by Peter Morgan-Jones with aged care provider HammondCare on developing the food at its facilities. A tad unsure that using ‘molecular air’ because it has a taste but dissolves on the tongue is a good alternative for people undergoing tube feeding (I’ll have to see just what is being proposed) but using xanthum gum in scones, cake and sandwiches to assist people with dysphagia swallow food better, or using agar agar in jellies for those with a pureed diet who can’t have gelatine sound like great ways to ensure our elderly, and foodies like me entering those years (okay, okay I am still some way off the pureed food) have a better standard of food than my mum gets currently.