I Wish I Could Sell You a $200 Wooden Spoon
‘I want Ariele Alasko's discipline. I want her world. And I want the kind of life, the financial confidence, the guts, that it takes to make a $200 spoon.’
Me...not so much. I have some lovely wooden spoons that I like using they are pictured above on a marble slab. All of them I am pretty sure were hand crafted. All of them are functional and I am not afraid to use them, their beauty notwithstanding. None of them cost $200.
A Plea for Culinary Modernism
‘The (Culinary) Luddites’ fable of disaster, of a fall from grace, smacks more of wishful thinking than of digging through archives. It gains credence not from scholarship but from evocative dichotomies: fresh and natural versus processed and preserved; local versus global; slow versus fast: artisanal and traditional versus urban and industrial; healthful versus contaminated and fatty. History shows, I believe, that the Luddites have things back to front.’
I like much of the myth busting and grounding in this article but I also think the some of the arguments misrepresent the positions of those who undoubtedly would fall into the author’s Culinary Luddite camp - Michael Pollan for one, Alice Waters, and, often, me. I don’t think outside of the raw foodists anyone is advocating for not processing grains, vegetables, fruit, or meat, nor for preserving them – smoked, dried, cured, jarred, canned or otherwise. I don’t have any absolute objection to industrial practices for processing or preserving. I do have objections to purely market driven practices that put crap in food to make it taste sweeter, or fattier, or dumb down food knowledge under the guise of convenience. Equally I have concerns for industrial practices that are dangerous to mental and physical well being of those engaged in them and that do not pay fair wages, and I find it curious from that perspetive that this article is in Jacobin which describes itself as ‘a leading voice of the American Left, offering a socialist perspective on politics, economics and culture’ and at no point examines the labour issue in current industrial and commercial foodways.
What Master Chef teaches us about food and the food industry
‘So while MasterChef might teach us a lot about food and food trends, it also glosses over some of the harsher realities of the industry that produces this food. The unsociable work hours, the bullying, the heat – this is not part of the culinary cultural capital that we learn from MasterChef.
MasterChef offers contestants and viewers a taste of the cooking techniques and presentation style of the restaurant industry, and presents these to us in ways that make them seem both aspirational and desirable.
This has given MasterChef the ratings boost it so desperately needed, but it has done this without engaging with the realities of the industry that the show is essentially promoting.’
But was Master Chef even remotely intended to ground anyone in the reality of the industry? Or does anyone watch it with that intention? Of course not. It’s a vanity show, not a reality show despite the name for its genre.
‘A collaboration between the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) and food publishers and facilitators The Field Institute, Fair Food documents the people pioneering new approaches to food production and distribution. Watch the trailer.’
Darn, I again am going to miss a showing of this Aussie doco, but maybe you can get along.
Local government and public place gardening – imposing limitations?
‘When we consider community food production in our cities, one particular area in desperate need of reform in local government is its anti-democratic approach to dealing with complaints. Two cases I know of involved people making footpath gardens. What happened was that one person on the street complained and council decided that, on the basis of this single complaint rather that the large number who signed a petition to retain the garden, the gardens had to go. This was a unilateral decision by council that ignored due process in negotiating disagreements among citizens. Citizens saw it as profoundly unfair.’
We set up our footpath garden – not a full on vegie patch but a mix of herbs and citrus and non-edible plants – at the time that Marrickville Council had no policy on this. Happily their position was as long as we kept reasonable footpath access for pedestrians they had no worries. Now they do have an enabling policy. No-one in the street has ever complained – in fact, I have had people dobbed in to me by neighbours for nicking the parsley J
France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities
‘French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste... Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years in jail.’
Supermarkets do what! Do they in Aus does anyone know? And while I applaud the proposal I worry about the impact on Les Fregans Francais L
Kitchen gadget review: The Garlic Zoom a leprechaun’s Perspex stagecoach
‘According to the packaging, Garlic Zoom was created by “David A Holcombe, Famous Inventor”. The words are self-undermining, but I like the attitude. It is what an eight-year-old would write on his pencil case. In fact, with big green wheels and mini blades that resemble ninja throwing stars, the Garlic Zoom does feel a bit child-designed.’
I am thoroughly enjoying this series. And if using this stagecoach gets kids started off helping in the kitchen, I’m for it J [He says, not wanting to admit that playing while prepping would be just peachy by him, too].
The Lexicon of Sustainability
A site I have just come across that looks worth the exploring. I have dipped into the Lexicon of Food and the Food List.
Ethical eating: the plants (and animals) are watching us
‘Think of the scene in the 1999 movie Notting Hill in which William, played by Hugh Grant, has dinner with Keziah, a self-described frutarian, who believes that fruits and vegetables have feelings, and so will only eat things that have spontaneously fallen off the vine. “So these carrots…?” ventures William. “Have been murdered,” responds Keziah.’
And of course we know that mandrake screams as it is pulled from the ground. The discussion being had in various places about what constitutes intelligence does raise fascinating new insights into how plnts interact with all aspects of their environment includinf humans, but I still think most cabbbages are dumb as. Ta all the same to Colin for this article.
The new religion: How the emphasis on ‘clean eating’ has created a moral hierarchy
‘She argues that the rise in food movements has coincided with a decline of religion in society, with many people seeking familiar values such as purity, ethics, goodness. But these movements also tend to encourage behaviours that have steered a generation away from religion: Judgment, self-righteousness, an us-versus-them mentality. And, she adds, many seek a fulfilment that cannot be satisfied with food.’
Another from Colin. I think it’s a pretty long bow that’s being drawn here, and, dare I say it, it’s typical Stateside with its obsession with religion. The decline in religion I suspect if historically charted would show bugger all relationship to the rise of vegetarianism, veganism or any other foodism. Which is not to say the food restrictions have not been used as religious distinction, but as Colin said in his email to me, what would Mary Douglas think about this.