Had the opportunity to watch the entire 6 eps of Chefs’ Table via Netflix. The stand out for me was Francis Mallman, who I have never heard about, but who convinced me that a frozen island in the middle of Patagonia is where I need to go and eat. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Mallmann. No fiddly fuddly micro leaves and petals in mini splodges in mid plate. Nah. My fondest image is of Mallman crucifying the carcasses of three beeves and sticking them in the snow in front of a roaring fire. Or it may also be several chooks suspended by strings from a sapling dome smoking. Or even the brilliance of a smashed Andean pumpkin that has emerged out of the Argentinean version of a hangi. The others all come across as, dare I say it, prissy; the exception here being Massimo Bottura and maybe that’s my prejudice for his food over the others, but he had less bullshit and agonising and needing to psychpatholigise than the others. I think basically I am sick to death of chefs who keep yakking on about how their food has to be an expression of themselves versus actually being about conviviality and sustenance.
The other series I have delighted in of late is Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection on SBS on Fridays. I have to admit to a total soft spot for all the series I have seen of Heston’s because of their combination of erudition, humour, and inventiveness.
I’m also enjoying Susan Parham’s new book Food and Urbanism. The Convivial City and a Sustainable Future. In her words ‘This book explores the complex ways that food and cities interconnect through urbanism: the study of the art of building cities.’ It’s a survey of the changes in the spatial positioning of growing, marketing, cooking and consuming food working out from the kitchen table to the food region reaching as far back as written records and archaeological digs will take her focusing mainly on European, US and Australian studies (Jean Duruz it’s lovely to see you cited every several pages J ) but including material from Asia where it is available. She’s excellent on tracking the shifts toward and away from and then back toward small scale arrangements, and again the informal to the formal and back to the informal again, and the forces that have driven the changes. I’ve just finished her look at Food’s Outdoor Room, meaning markets in their many forms including and I am walking with her now through The Gastronomic Townscape of food precincts and eat streets. It’s already has me looking at the spaces I move through on my daily feeding differently; a whole new dimension to the term foodways for me to explore.
What climate change will do to your loaf of bread
‘AgFace leader Glenn Fitzgerald said the effect of high carbon dioxide on grains is complex. On the one hand, it makes plants such as wheat and canola grow faster and produce greater yields but, on the other hand, they contain less protein. Elevated carbon dioxide also alters the ratio of different types of proteins in wheat, which, in the case of bread, affects the elasticity of dough and how well a loaf rises.’
Give me protein and elasticity over high yield anytime.
Smashed avo anyone?: Five Australian creations taking the world by storm
Can you guess which other ones?
‘Try to describe Australian cuisine to a visitor and you’re likely to struggle a little. But there are some dishes that as a nation we recognise as quintessentially Australian – and they’ve started to pop up on menus from Brixton to Brooklyn.’
Let the debates begin on which is or is not Australian – Dr Newton I turn first to thee.
Burger wars: the battle of the beef patties
‘Among the new entrants to the market are Grill'd, Mary's, Chur Burger Express, Burger Project, Burger Edge, Burger Shed, Ribs & Burgers, Burger Bro? and Melbourne's Brother Burgers. That doesn't include the numerous pubs that offer their own versions as a drawcard. Giving the sector even more power is that these are run by an array of top chefs, including Neil Perry, Luke Powell (ex-Tetsuya's) and Warren Turnbull, among many others. Property agents say the backing of these top-shelf foodies has meant they know all about the real estate business and have exact locations in mind... Other operators such as The Pantry and Trunk Diner have created high-quality burgers that provide customers with a premium experience within a casual dining offering. ’
Give me a thick bun with lashings of butter, grilled onions, a good everyday mince pattie, some slices of canned beetroot and a leaf or two of iceberg lettuce that I can carry away in a greaseproof paper wrap and eat one hand while I walk or sit with mates in the park...but save me from a ‘premium experience within a casual dining offering’ at a price that will compete with my mortgage.
The pic this week is of a beef brisket bun from The Counter in Audley Street, Petersham
The 4 Ways People Rationalise Eating Meat
And in more news from the meat eat front, Helen sent me this.
‘This combination — eating meat while being opposed, in principle, to the acts that are required for meat-eating to take place — suggests that omnivores come up with psychological ways to justify their dietary habits.’
In case you wonder, I fit firmly into the fourth rationale – ‘it’s nice’.
Stop Romanticising Your Grandparents’ Food
‘In short, Laudan has delivered an evocative corrective to the culinary romanticism that pervades our farmers markets and farm-to-table culinary temples. Yet her "plea for culinary modernism" contains its own gaping blind spot. If Laudan's "culinary Luddites" feast on tales of an imaginary prelapsarian food past, she herself presents a gauzy and romanticized view of industrialized food.
A short critique of Rachel Laudan’s Plea for Culinary Modernism (see Compost May 30 at my blog http://buthkuddeh.blogspot.com.au/)
In praise of fast food
‘Of course, all of this is in sharp contrast to the brutalist fast-food culture that has risen up since Ray Krok wed standardized burger-and-fries production to the post-war expansion of car ownership. But the corporatized vision of fast food, as embodied by global powerhouses McDonald’s and Yum Foods, represents a mere tick of the clock in the long and mostly proud history of fast food.’
I think we have to find some other term for most of what Philpott talks about here, and what Laudan also talks about. A meat pie from a bakery shop is not fast food as far as I am concerned nor is a good snag sanger from at the footy nor a bowl of pho whipped up in a road side stall in Hanoi nor a naan with mutton curry on some dusty road in Gujarat. Street food doesn’t fit across the whole of these examples either. Convenience food would be a good term if it also were not so debased now.