Friday, April 24, 2015

This Week's Compost

A friend found and lent me the Wellbeing Food edition of 2009, edited by the erstwhile John Newton. In his editorial, John writes, as others have similarly in other instances:


‘We’re so distant from instinctively understanding what to eat and when to eat it that , for many, food is a problem to be solved, not a pleasure to be enjoyed.’


This set me wondering, has anyone done historical work on when, why and for whom this disjuncture can be said to have first occurred and tracked the forces through which it became increasingly true for more and more sectors of society? I am probably not phrasing the question well, but for example, did you average feudal lord instinctively know what to eat and when to eat it, or did he depend on what his peasants grew? Did alienation of land lead to alienation of knowledge? Did all those rural workers who moved into the cities as industrialisation proceeded undergo some kind of memory malfunction that they passed on to their progeny?


I’d be interested in your thoughts or directions to where I might turn to get some insight on this.


Cooking with sea water – is it the best way to season food?

‘The secret, says, Joaquín Baeza, who won Spain’s “Chef of the Year” contest in 2014, is that there’s no table salt added at all. Instead, he cooked the rice in a diluted seawater solution. It’s a tradition that has been practised in coastal villages for centuries, and espoused, particularly for seafood, by big-name Spanish chefs such as Ferran Adrià and Quique Dacosta.’


Anyone spotted an Oz restaurant trending on this? I must admit that oysters fresh shucked and slurped with that salt water and slightly metallic tang are vastly preferable to oysters any other way.  And the salt water cheese I once made was excellent. Haven’t knowingly eaten anything else cooked in seawater, but I am certainly up for a taste test, and on more than a potato.



TEDxSydney – Rebellious Food Program

Food rules can be subtle, strict, considered or unconscious – and we’ve all got them. We acquire food preferences in childhood, add limits as we grapple with our nutrition, make financial decisions about what we can afford to eat, and adjust our approach to food to reflect our political and ethical beliefs.... Well, it means that things might get a little uncomfortable for anyone not accustomed to entomophagy (i.e. the practice of eating bugs). Also included under the umbrella of 'forgotten' or 'rebellious' foods are lesser-known parts of animals, things generally considered to be pests, and party foods that we all loved as kids (but have since eliminated from our diets along with other kinds of sugary carbs).’


I can’t make it  well, I couldn’t afford the TEDx fee anyway – but I would love to hear how it goes.



Heshani and family cook Sri Lankan

This lovely family emailed me and asked me if they could use my grandmother’s recipes for some of their home cookery videos. I said it would be fine if they said where the recipes came from and linked to my online version of Ada’s recipe book. I love their videos. :) This is the first from Ada’s cookbook.



The quiet revolution: sustainable food movement flourishes in suburban backyards

In one of those ooogy booogy coincidences on the same day this story was in the Sydney Morning Herald mentioning a couple who have made  ‘a stored heat cooker’ ie. a modern version of a hay cooker that I have been fascinated by for some time, using recycled polystyrene, a mate of mine posted on Facebook that he had 8 sheets of polystyrene insulation to offload for free – I was too late to take up the offer L But I did find a site which details how to make one and will be scouring the streets for cast offs during the next Council clean up.


Grocery Store Wars

Don’t know how you will go with opening this link – but it’s worth trying J


Robot Chef

New Scientist 18 April 2015 reports:

‘A robot chef can rustle up a crab bisque, seemingly on its own. The system, created by London-based Moley Robotics, tracked a former MasterChef-winner’s hands in 3D as he prepared a dish. Two robotic hands then recreated every move in a specially designed kitchen. The firm hopes to have a commercial version in two years’.


But then, I thought all those contestants on MasterChef were emotobots anyway?


And then by chance Colin Sheringham sent me this which again I hope you can open (I am technically dumbo on how to get a vid url from someone’s FB page if it isn’t clearly youtubed or such).


Food thinking

‘Bikes, phones, clothes all get old, but food leaves enough room for constant reinterpretation. This doesn’t come from scratch, but is nurtured through media transforming cooks into celebrities and food into cult. Food is the new status symbol and it's replacing the old ones and is changing the consumers' mindset.’ 


Thanks also to Colin for linking me to this site. The ideas won’t be particularly fresh to anyone immersed in foodways, but the images are not predictable nor are the snippets from people interviewed, and the approach to food writing on the net is exciting, breaking away from the blog or essay.



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


Sunday, April 12, 2015

This Week's Compost

This week's header pic is of my mates Tanya and Saul at the first firing up of Saul's new barbecue structure. It had been raining and Tanya and Saul thought that it would  be good to have some kind of cover over the fire for the night so people could sit around it. Saul headed back to his house and three hours later returned with what I immediately christened the Little House on the Barbie. Saul's a blacksmith who has done fit outs for places like the Bourke Street Bakery premise in Marrickville. He does things like the Barbie House off the top of his head. What you can't see is that under the roof is square metal frame that holds it up; the minute I saw it I thought - smoking, as did Saul, So I put a grill over the frame and we whacked some sausages on and six hours later we had excellent quick smoked sausages. There are also chains which you can just see dangling down in the middle that we will use next time for hanging a sop or stew pot. Our next project will be an earth oven dug into the side of the hill around to the right of the big rock you can see.

Queered by quinces
That got you in, didn’t it. Well, nothing salacious to follow. Just a question: why no matter what I do do my quinces NEVER go red when I poach them?

More on Cornish Pasties in Oz
Barbara Santich writes: The Australian version of pasties includes pumpkin - or trombone; that’s the distinguishing feature. At McLaren Vale a bakery advertises ‘Butternut pasties’.

Alison Vincent contributes this:
The biggest Cornish pasty celebration is here in Oz
And there is an interesting paper about the Cornish pasty in Michigan in the proceedings of the Oxford symposium 2000, Food and the memory ( passionate for the pasty, Leslie Cory Shoemaker).
What I don't know is whether Wicken, Pearson et al did have recipes for Cornish pasties.
Perhaps Charmaine or Jacqui knows the answer?

I could find nothing in Wicken via Muskett.

Why Vertical Farming Could Be On The Verge Of A Revolution - And What's Keeping It Down

‘What’s holding many farms back is the struggle to simultaneously increase their yield-per-square-foot and decrease the cost of production -- particularly the cost of powering round-the-clock lights, which is high... Harper also questions whether consumers will embrace produce grown in such an unusual and unfamiliar way. “People are incredibly sceptical of science and technology in food and are scared of it,” Harper said. “How do we talk about that? Will people accept or understand it, and ultimately will they buy it?”

 Show of the Week; Rachel Khoo’s Cosmopolitan Cook and Poh & Co
In the end what these shows offer is escape from death cults and murder and politicians dedicated to the art and craft of deception and blame. Along with handy hints about clarifying butter and keeping fish cakes in the freezer they offer respite.’

Larissa Dubecki in reviewing the new seasons of two tv cookery shows in The Guide, Sydney Morning Herald, March 20, 2015.

It’s a tad overstated, I reckon, and I’m not convinced that this is such a recent phenomenon as she suggests. Nor am I convinced by Delia Smith’s declaration as reported in this review that ‘her TV career was over as the genre has inextricably shifted from education to entertainment’. What was Graham Kerr and Bernard King, and even, let’s be honest, Ian Parminter if not entertainment? I never saw Julia Child’s show so I have no idea how much less hers was about entertainment than education either. There is more I think in Dubecki’s other assertion that ‘ no longer cuts the mustard to offer mere cooking skills. The new wave of food stars must offer their lives’. Though again I wonder from when we can date this happening. Any suggestions?