Friday, February 5, 2016


Welcome all to 2016. Big ish this time as I have been slack.
The pic for this issue is of a Sri Lankan egg hopper. The name is a corruption of appam, Hindi for the same thing, usually a toddy-fermented batter of rice made into a bowl shaped pancake and eaten with a variety of things from sweetened milk or coconut milk as a breakfast dish in Tamil Nadu to Syrian Christians in Kerala eating it with a meat stew. In Sri Lanka it’s a breakfast dish often eaten with fish curry and a seeni (sugar and fried onion) sambol. But my interest is in the particularly Sri Lankan variation, the egg hopper (at least I can’t find this variation described for Southern India). To make this, once you have swirled the batter around the bowl shaped hopper pan and set that back on the fire, you crack an egg into the centre and cover the whole as you do when making plain hoppers, so the egg and the batter cook together. Tastes vary as to how firm the egg should be. You then can use a plain hopper to dip into a softer eff a la toast soldiers, or pull the firmer egg hopper apart, or top it with sambol, or fish curry or whatever really.
Reading Another Anglo-Indian Cuisine: Te Cousins of Curry, Featuring ‘A Few Nice Pies’  by Blake Perkins in PPC 104 (an article with I have some issues) set me wondering about the origin of this practice. I am trying to think of any other dish that resembles it i.e. one where an egg is cracked directly on to some other substance, not just batter, and cooked with it in this manner. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Project Boomerang
It’s kicked off well with a robust discussion about this year’s MLA ad for Australia Day which, for those who haven’t caught it, is an action epic featuring Australian SAS type men rescuing Australian’s overseas and bringing them back to share lamb chops on the barbie.
If you’ve not seen the critiques, here are a few links:
In a discussion thread amongst a few of us made the following observations:
Alison -  Speaks to the broader issue of trying to invent tradition.
Colin - I would argue that as an advertisement it works - how many times did they have to pay for TV screenings before it went viral on the net. How many people have viewed the ad and how much is it now costing to be 'aired'.
John - And without getting into all the political and racial arguments, that's the only thing the MLA cares about.
Juan Carlo - Exactly. From that perspective, the ad works and fits well into their strategy of controversial Australia Day ads.
Paul - Agreed, Colin, in terms of its virality, but will it get anyone to put lamb on the bbq if they weren't before or indeed buy any more lamb than they did before at any other time in the year? Love to see what the sales figures show.
And of course, being a dyed in the wool Catholic I look forward to a great campaign around Easter and the munching into the Paschal Lamb :)
John - My contacts in MLA tell me that it works its bum off. Lamb sales leap over the fence.
Our discussion took us to curious places as it usually does.
From Colin:
While we are in the ad watching mood
And from Juan Carlo:
On the subject of charcoal and ads, this insight from Ben Grubb:
So what was the response of others of you?
First taste of chocolate
Ta Maria and Ross for the link to this quite delightful and in its quiet way agitprop vid.
Cabbage Cores for Sale at Baldor Specialty Foods in New York
And thanks for Helen for this story to add to my collection on reducing food waste. I hope these ventures are not just fads but become a permanent part of the industrial scale food chain.
‘Baldor’s processing facility Fresh Cuts works with 40–50 types of fruits and vegetables daily. Its workers chop, dice, and peel to create 1,400 different products, such as carrot sticks and shredded Brussels sprouts. At the end of the day, the business is left with copious amounts of organic matter, such as brussel sprout bits, mango peels, and the outermost ring of the onions, which can be tough to eat.
Until very recently, all Baldor’s food waste moved from conveyer belts into large pipes that line the walls and cavernous ceilings of its production facility. All pipes led to a dumpster out back, and all that food waste got trucked at Baldor’s expense to the landfill, where, in the process of decomposing, it would create the dangerous greenhouse gas methane.’
How the Perennial’s Sustainable Mode Will Break the Restaurant Mold.
And thanks again to Helen for this link.
‘For the ingredients that need a little more room to roam than the West Oakland compound allows, Myint, Leibowitz and Kiyuna have identified local farms that not only raise their livestock in a clean and humane way, but are also on the cutting edge of carbon farming practices that leave the land in better shape than they found it.’
Fruit and Vegies. Why Do They Cost So Much and Who Gets What
No prizes for guessing the answer.
‘John Dollisson, chief executive of Apple and Pear Australia, said the average farm-gate price for all apple varieties last year was $2.57/kg while the retail price was $4.20/kg. In terms of profitability, 2015 was one of the worst years on record, with some growers – like some of the valencia growers – unable to cover production costs, he said.
"We want to work with retailers much more closely to develop strategies that ensure a fair share of profits to both growers and retailers and, importantly, a fair price for consumers," he said.
Farmer’s Market versus Supermarket
‘If time, budget – and let’s be honest, weather – allow, the outdoor environment and personal interaction at the farmers market makes shopping more fun than a chore (although you do have to lug what you buy). Local, seasonal, fresh and unprocessed is always best, but at least here in Portland, it’s nice to know that the supermarket is not anathema to eating healthfully and well.’
Colin forwarded this to me.  The take home message for me, as I pretty much knew, is that I make choices about buying at the Farmer’s Market for reasons not always to do with the quality of the produce, but for values I can enact in purchasing there. Mind you, I will still never find the variety of vegies in the supermarket up the road to what i find on Hapi’s stall at Addison Road, and certainly will not find the bits and bobs that would otherwise be tossed away or ignored but which Hapi pops into a tray to tempt me with.
The lucky country? Social space and community gardens in Australia
‘Recent research in Australian cities is telling a different story. Unlike the experiences in Boston and Detroit, forms of alternative food systems (e.g., community gardens) are, for the most part, working within existing neoliberal structures, as opposed to a Lefevbrian appropriation of space... This is particularly the case where local councils have yet to recognise the social use value of space, nor consider it on par with economic use value when making land use decisions. Respondents emphasized that the main barrier to community garden groups in starting up or maintaining established activities was working with local councils. Although some city officials are sympathetic and supportive of neighbourhood efforts to start community gardens on public lands, these are considered as community initiatives and are assessed by officials on a case-by-case basis. In Sydney, such assessments use criteria developed, largely, by planning departments at inner city and suburban local councils.’
Hmm...I will have to toss Lefevbre into my next encounter with Marrickville Council. When Marilyn and I suggested to Council some years back now that we would rather have a garden, if not a vegie garden, on our nature strip instead of buffalo grass to replace the concrete they were finally digging up they had no guidelines for what we wanted to do but did ont oppose it as long as we kept the footpath and roadway clear. I guess that counts as ‘working within existing neoliberal structures’ though the Council wouldn’t see it that way. Apparently they now have developed a set of guidelines now for others wanting to do what we did, which is nice to know. Oh, and there is parsley and lemon verbena wilding the garden strip these days too J
The problems with food media that no-one wants to talk about
‘Too often an immigrant cuisine is anointed “the next big thing” only after a certain kind of chef comes to the fore who can check the right media-favored boxes: the white guy who spent a year in Laos and already inked a book deal; the hipster with a five-panel Supreme hat whose trio of kimchi is considered “edgy”; the flashy international superstar with a fine-dining pedigree. Even as our tastes broaden, the way we want those stories packaged—along with whom we deem worthy to play the lead role—is still very selective.’
I admit I haven’t read a Delicious, or Gourmet in years, and to say I skim through Good Food is to suggest I spend more time on it than I do, and I barely subsribe to any online food media. But then, I don’t expect to get much but fluff from them and I don’t know that we should any more if we ever did. Frankly I get more interesting foodway writing from New Scientist, the Guardian daily and at times The Conversation.
Ta to Colin for this link
Ten Bush Foods e book by Kado Muir
Ta to Colin again for the link to this nice little book J