Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This Week's Compost

This week's image is a lovely naive painting a tad hidden in Trattoria da Carlo in Orvieto where I had the second best meals in Italy last year..the best being at Benito Osteria in Rome. Carlo mixes deconstructedish dishes with plain old round the kitchen table ones but all deeply satisfying flavour, texture and visual-wise. I am hoping to get up a foodie excursion to Orvieto for their food and wine festival in October 2016 and am open to expressions of interest in joining me.

Also, if you have anyone you think might like to be on the Compost email list, please direct them my way.

And thanks for contributors to this week's ed.

Food and Words
A shameless plug for Barbara Sweeney’s 4th wonderful fest of food and falderol J Je suis desole that I will not be there this year L

‘I’ve got judges who love them’: in defence of the deep fried Mars bar
‘Birthplace of the World Famous Deep Fried Mars Bar,” the banner announces. It’s vast, proud, and as of this week under threat. Welcome to The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where 20 years ago – so the legend has it – two pupils from the local academy challenged each other to eat a load of random battered stuff, resulting in the Scottish delicacy (or culinary embarrassment, depending on who you talk to) known as the deep-fried Mars bar. Aberdeenshire council refuses to share The Carron’s pride and has demanded the banner’s removal.’
As some of you know, I tried one earlier this year and I LOVED it. Oily, gooey, hot, gushy...everything you want in the worst of indulgence. It needs no defending. And I love someone who is not ashamed to say ‘ “I would draw the line at Minstrels and Maltesers,” he says. “Too small. But other than that, I’ll deep fry anything.”

Faith, Philosophy and Food
‘In these last weeks of Ramadan we hear how those of Muslim and Jewish faith navigate this and how it affects their everyday lives. We also hear from a vegan how her personal ethics have influenced her food choices and the knock-on effect that has had in where she lives and works.’
July 11 ep of Radio National’s Blueprint for Living, The discussion starts at around 53:00. A nicely pitched exploration of the personal and the convivial.
The lunchtime revolution at a school for children with autism
‘He also handles the more refined dietary requests, like those of a 15-year-old boy called Finn who for a long while favoured things that were black, like Oreos and burnt toast. “He used to burn his own toast which would bring the fire brigade,” Ragan tells me. “Now they phone us up when there’s an alarm and ask whether Finn has been burning the toast again.” At lunchtime, Lucio makes the toast for him, gently reducing the level of burn so that now it is merely a shade of brown.’
A truly inspiring story which needs no commentary from me.
Researchers at Oregon State University have found a new seaweed that tastes like bacon and has twice the nutritional value of kale
I am not sure that any vegan I know is hanging out for things that taste like bacon.
I, on the other hand, am TOTALLY hanging out for someone to invite me round for a Bacon Bowl.
Lunch at Dunkin’ Don’t-nuts
Meanwhile in India..I  hope you can open the link...the descriptions of the burgers are more than OTT.
Read this and you’ll never eat a ready meal again
‘Irish authorities were equally shocked to discover that a pizza bearing the label 'country of origin Ireland' in fact contained 35 ingredients that had passed through 60 countries during preparation and packaging.’

Ta to Sarah Benjamin for directing to me to this article. I haven’t eaten a ‘ready meal’ in many many a year and am in no danger of doing so in the near future but already get the chills when I visit my mum in the nursing home and see the gloop she gets some times.
Barbara Sweeney commented on the article in another forum:
‘I don’t think it would be too far from the commercial reality of food manufacturing here. The only reason why it wouldn’t be is scale. I’ve been looking at the increase in heat and serve dishes onside at Woolies in Potts Point and wondering about them - what ingredients are used, how old the ingredients are, have they been irradiated etc. John’s example can’t be compared to the meals referred to in the story, which is more about Lean Cuisine or other packaged meals, which really do look like the dog’s breakfast. Buying someone else home cooked food from a deli is still home cooked food, like eating at a friend’s house. Local food manufacturers would definitely be buying in single components of pre-prepared ingredients - peeled, chopped frozen vegies for example, mashed potato for gratin toppings etc. This specialisation has seen big growth in commercial catering in last few decades. I know that most yogurt and pie makers here – including organic – cannot get enough locally produced fruit purees for their products and so buy in from Europe.’
And John Newton also commented:
‘I remember some years ago a UK ready meal company came bursting onto the scene, promising 'home made goodness in every bite' or some such crap and exited some six months later. For a Short Black piece I asked the company guy what went wrong. He told me the main reason was that most people in Australia can cook, whereas in the UK they couldn't. True or false?’
How Greece’s Debt Crisis Is Impacting It’s Wine Industry
And thanks to Helen Greenwoood for directing me to this article. Interesting info on Greek drinking patterns and alcohol tax system as well as a look at the impact of the financial crisis.
‘One of the large issues looming for Greek wineries, beyond the difficulty of sales, is the approaching harvest. Many wineries are having trouble sourcing the bottles they need from abroad and shipments of bottles can require significant lead time to purchase. With bank transfers out of the country recently on hold, many Greek wineries are wondering if they will have enough bottles for their wine. Winemaker Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gaia Wines notes that most bottle suppliers have stopped delivering, or are requesting to be paid in cash, up-front. This is especially challenging for Greek winemakers like him who make wine in regions, like Santorini, where harvest may be as early as August.’


Saturday, July 11, 2015

This Weeks Compost

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, also has been shown to have wide reaching positive impacts on brain functioning. It causes mild stress to brain cells triggering the production of antioxidant enzymes that hold down free radicals and the accumulation of toxic proteins. Some animal studies also suggest that it may reduce damage from strokes and could help alleviate depression and anxiety (Mattson, Mark What Doesn't Kill You...Scientific American, July 2015). I love that Big Science every now and then finds that old wives or indeed old ayurvedic's tales have some truth in them.

But enough schadenfreude...this week’s pic comes courtesy of Martin Boetz new venture in bringing his Portland farm produce to the Inner West, the frontiers of the IW at that...St Peters! Between this and the Addison Road Markets and popping up the road to see what’s on the quick sale trays at Arcella Fresh up the street I am one very happy urban foodista.

Fork to Fork
Ta to Helen Campbell for directing my attention to this. It will be interesting to see it working.
‘Fork to Fork is a project that aims to provide an online marketplace for the sale
of Tasmanian food. The project is run by
 Sprout Tasmania. Sprout Tasmania is a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting local food producers who would like to get their ideas in the ground, growing and to market’

Green is the new black: the unstoppable rise of the healthy eating guru
‘The wellness blogger is, crucially, photogenic and young, which is why “wellness” looks so much more desirable than it did a decade ago, when it wasGillian McKeith, say, telling us all to eat more fibre. Eat like me, look like me, is the message. Typical photo poses include sitting on a beach lounger in a bikini while drinking from a coconut, or reclining in a rustic kitchen in skinny jeans, a cute porcelain bowl of vegetables in one hand. There are differences, however: some bloggers endorse juice fasts, whereas others scorn juice and compare its sugar content to Coca-Cola; some promote fasting, others advise against. Such subjective disagreements are perhaps inevitable among a profession in which no training is required.’

Depressing reading, the comments included.

Why does food taste different on planes?
‘Taste buds and sense of smell are the first things to go at 30,000 feet, says Russ Brown, director of In-flight Dining & Retail at American Airlines. “Flavour is a combination of both, and our perception of saltiness and sweetness drop when inside a pressurised cabin. Everything that makes up the in-flight experience, it turns out, affects how your food tastes. “Food and drink really do taste different in the air compared to on the ground,” says Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University. “There are several reasons for this: lack of humidity, lower air pressure, and the background noise.”

Also the attitude of the flight stewards has a really really big impact, and who you are sitting next to and how gross it is that they ordered the nasi goreng chicken...But seriously, some fascinating info in here about how being inside a plane plays havoc with your senses generally.

Land of pork and honey
‘At Truck De Luxe, you can while away the hours on a patio that stretches into the street, tucking into a cold beer and a soft pretzel with bacon jam, or its signature pancake tower, which is layered with pulled pork and slathered with maple syrup. In the past five years, Israelis’ passion for pork has blown up, says one of the restaurant’s owners, Ori Marmorstein. And since the pork industry is monopolized by only a few pig farms, mostly in Israel’s northern Arab-Christian area, demand has made pork prices skyrocket almost 100 percent, he says, with some cuts up to about $8 per pound... But at the truck, the staff is quintessentially Tel Aviv: beautiful, hedonistic, blasé, flirty young things who see good food and alcohol not as moments of gratification, but as a way of life. Ignoring the country’s loaded and increasingly depressing political scene is exactly the point, and pork is a means to that escape.’

Okay, you all know I love pork, but why oh why does it have to come in a pulled pork stack smothered in maple syrup. The point of an accompaniment to pork for me is to balance its sweetness with something sour like in a classsic Sri Lankan pork curry where goroka (aka gamboge) makes the fat the more unctuous by its sharpness. Transgression and rebellion via food I applaud, but can we do it with some discernment?

What? Too flippant?

Big Plates Are the New Small Plates
‘At Provision No. 14, the Filipino-style fried suckling pork leg arrives at the table on a silver platter with a  large white-handled knife stabbed in the middle. The upright serrated blade is the chef’s mic drop. It’s the kind of gesture that dares you to question it.’

No, what it does is tell me that the chef is up himself, and the rest of the article just confirms it.

The madness of drinking bottled water shipped halfway around the world
‘Bottled water’s global boom is arguably driven by fear, firstly among developing world consumers who worry about water quality from the tap, and secondly among developed world consumers about the health impacts of sugary drinks.’

It has been one of the most successful unnecessary campaigns in years, get us to (a) drink more water per se and (b) drink bottled water. Such a frisson still when to the inevitable questoin of do I want still or sparkling water I answer ‘tap water’.

Curry on cooking: how long will the UKs adopted national dish survive?
Salim’s restaurant, which he has owned for 15 years, is one of thousands comprising the £3.6bn Indian restaurant industry in Britain. It is a quirk of colonialism, globalisation, and modernisation that a curry has become as synonymous with British culinary culture as fish and chips. But in Conservative Britain – where the attitude toward migrants is becoming increasingly and explicitly hostile – this culinary mainstay is in sharp decline not due to lack of demand, but to a lack of skilled chefs. 

Well, that’s it. The end of Empire and God Save the Queen and all who sail in her. Look, if this means the end of crap Bangladeshi curry, rejoice all ye say I.

Oh, all right, the article has some excellent points to make about the nature of the labour market at this end of the food sector not only in the UK but generally in Western economies and the abuse of labour arguments in anti-immigration polemic and politics. Mind you there is also a thead of neo-imperialism in all of this curry-national-dish-exploitation-of-former-colonial-serfs that isn’t canvassed,