Saturday, March 4, 2017

Compost 5 march 2017

So, this year's crop of mangoes was looking pretty good before I went on hols...the possums had other ideas. However, waste not want not so the samplers bites will be cauterised and the rest mushed for a sorbet or such. At least they alerted me that the mangoes despite their green skin were indeed ready.

Seven things in food to stay livid about in 2017
Barbara Santich sent me the following in response to last Compost’s item on this.

Clean and green, local and seasonal, are near to the top of my list of ‘things foodwise you will stay furious about this year’ but what really annoys me, perhaps less often, are menus that describe a dish in terms of its main ingredients, as if each had equal weight: for example, a (hypothetical) dish of ‘cured kingfish, shaved squid, quinoa, samphire’ that has a couple of slices of tuna plus one fine shaving of squid, six puffed quinoa grains, and a shred of samphire. I’m sure readers could add many real-life examples.

Second, another restaurant gripe: a dish described as (again, hypothetical) as ‘Seared lamb, roast tomatoes, carrot puree, French lentils’ that I order, and the waitperson asks would I like a side of vegetables. No, I say, there are vegetables with my dish. It’s not a lot, says the waitperson, I recommend a side of rosemary potatoes. So I order the side, and get a dish big enough to serve six. The carrot puree turns out to be a smear, the lentils form a random decoration on the rim of the plate, and there’s one miniscule tomato on top of the lamb. Why can’t the chef add the appropriate vegetable to the dish and charge an extra dollar? This one gets me hot under the collar every time.

Oh, and of course, the chestnuts that ignorant and lazy journalists come out with – for example, that Australia has the best cheese/fish/lamb etc. in the world; that it’s time Australians gave up hot roast turkey for Christmas (as if they have just invented the idea); that the European colonists in the eighteenth/nineteenth century emphatically rejected all indigenous foods (which usually precedes a congratulatory paen to the current generation of chefs).

I think I could add many more if I really got worked up!

And Charmaine sent these comments:

Here's to great year in challenging food orthodoxies (including historical ones!) and neoliberal solutions. Perhaps if people thought about the fact that part of the neoliberal agenda seems to be to deskill us as cooks so that we spend more money having our meals prepared for us by others (nothing against restaurants but we need to get a better perspective on our use of these) we might not be wasting so much for out. Not only are we being deskilled as cooks we apparently are not 'too busy' to actually go out and eat at the restaurants we buy our meals for so we have to have them delivered we can sit in front of Netflix binge watching wonder we are getting fat ..except the food delivery people who are riding around the food non bikes! 
In regards to food wastage if one eats out. I love the thali concept in restaurants in India (which I am sure you are familiar with). You are given a modest amount of food to begin and then the waiters come around and offer you more which you take as you need. It is socially frowned upon to take more than you can eat so it seems people rarely waste food. Perhaps we need a bit more of this in restaurants to prevent waste!
No animal required, but would people be prepared to eat artificial meat?

Gender was the biggest predicting factor, with men more likely on average to say they would try IVM, whereas women were less sure. Men also had more positive views of its benefits.’

Anyone care to speculate why?

Recipes are to cooking as listicles are to journalism: they're intrinsically flawed

‘All this is not to say that I dislike recipes. After all, I’ve published thousands of the bloody things over the years and most of them, I think, are really quite good – if I do say so myself.

Recipes are flawed by their very nature but those flaws are not fatal. Understanding the limitations of recipes can make them very useful indeed. They’re often our first step in exploring new dishes, new ingredients, new cuisines – and with them, new ways of living. They are an arrow pointing the way, not the destination itself.’

I found this article intensely annoying and snobby. Apart from the smug self-congratulation, I think it reeks of the kind of privileging of cooking by chefs who have time and money and who write food porn recipes to earn even more money.

The Hunt for the Perfect Sugar
 ‘Let us pause here to acknowledge the sugar-frosted codependent embrace of Big Food and the American consumer. You could rightly fault consumers for their insistence on an oxymoronic product. But who has been indulging their fantasies for decades now, promising sweet, satisfying taste and no calories? Big Food, of course. Now customers are upping the stakes—and it’s not at all clear that companies can pass the test.’

An interesting article on the commercial imperative and not the health imperative behind the search for a low-calorie sweetener. But why do we need sweet foods at all? Sure we have taste receptors for sweetness, but what of what makes a food naturally sweet, like honey, do we need that we can’t get if honey tasted umami?

Can eating lead to understanding? In the case of Trump’s travel ban, some hope so.
 ‘As enjoyable a form of resistance as it may be, learning about and eating food from the banned countries will not, of course, directly influence lawmakers or change any policy. But it could make a difference for immigrant-owned restaurants, whose businesses may have suffered because of stigma. And while some of those restaurant owners may be safely based in this country, many are worried about their family members, which can take a toll on their work.’

I’m also not convinced that just eating the other’s food leads is an adequate way to learn about the culture. For example, while I am happy to tell people who ask me where to eat good Sri Lankan in Sydney I know (a) depending on where I send them they will get a different idea of Sri Lankan food and food practices and (b) they could go somewhere and eat and have no deeper understanding of the whole of the cultures in Sri Lanka (note the plural) nor how they have developed nor how they are deployed within Sri Lanka as ways of entrenching power, conformity and so on.  Unless there is the opportunity to ask questions about this in the restaurant or unless the diner’s interest is piqued enough to ask these questions later, the food experience I think remains just that.

That is not to say at all that I don’t support people actively expressing support and solidarity with the banned communities in whatever ways they can, choosing to eat in a immigrant-owned restaurant among them. But it is to say that to expect too much of a meal is problematic.

 Where we source recipes
 From Barbara Santich:

If you don’t frequent Ikea or kitchenware shops you might have been unaware of the newest kitchen accessory - the tablet stand:

It’s a telling statement as to where people go for recipes!

As I confessed to Barbara, I often have recourse to the web for recipes, particularly if I want to find esoteric combinations of which there are usually several recipes more than I have in my cookbook collection. I have yet to cross-over to tablet use, however, and hauling the laptop from the office to the benchtop is tiresome so inevitable print out what I find anyway…on recycled paper of course.

MOLD Magazine goes print
 ‘We’re thrilled to announce the launch of MOLD Magazine, the first print magazine about the future of food. After three years and over 400 stories about food and design, we are excited to work in a new medium for our investigations into how design can shape the way we eat and drink in the future.

Ta Colin for putting me on to this. You may have noticed I have a growing interest in foodways of the future - including where the growing is all in a petri dish - so I am looking forward to this. Meanwhile the MOLD website is a great place to waste time…I mean research food.