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Saturday
Feb112017

I am what I eat: Nadia Stokes

Photo: Miles Willis

This post first appeared on the Borough Market website as part of my series, I Am What I Eat, where I explore the links between food and identity, interviewing traders about the foods that are important to them and why.

To conclude my second series I asked my commissioning editor, Claire Ford, for someone who touched on some of the other themes in the series - someone interested in sustainability and/or environmental issues, someone with ethical and moral values around food, but perhaps a meat-eater to contrast with some of the other interviewees, someone who cares about where there food comes from. I didn't expect her to find someone who covered all these bases and several more. Nadia was a joy to interview; I hope you'll enjoy reading this article, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

“I had a very close relationship with food all my life. I grew up in Cyprus in a very, very, very small village in the middle of nowhere. I think it was about 80 inhabitants to 400, 600 goats. I don’t think I realised how much it was a part of me until I came to the UK.”

Nadia Stokes, co-owner of Gourmet Goat, first came to the UK to study law in her early 20s. The way people viewed food was the “biggest culture shock” for her. “Being in the supermarket in the UK I just remember being like ‘why is everything wrapped individually’ and ‘why is everyone buying single cucumbers?’” She came to terms with this in time, but “there was still a massive hole in my life of really, really local produce”.

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Tuesday
Jan102017

I am what I eat: Bill Oglethorpe

This post first appeared on the Borough Market website as part of my series, I Am What I Eat, where I explore the links between food and identity, interviewing traders about the foods that are important to them and why. In the second series I chose to speak to Bill because I knew his path into cheese-making had been an interesting one. Actually, we ended up talking a lot about food science, in particular transformations, and this instead became the focus of my article.

“I’ve always been interested in anything to do with transformation,” says Bill Oglethorpe, owner of Kappacasein Dairy. “It’s kind of magical. Like mayonnaise, the emulsification of egg yolks and oil – that’s amazing – turning something that’s oily and separated into something that’s creamy. Or béchamel or soufflé…”

Or cheese, one might add – he doesn’t say it, but it’s implicit. Bill has worked with cheese for over 20 years. He started on the shop floor at Neal’s Yard Dairy and gradually moved into affinage, the aging and maturing of cheese, arguably one of the most important transformative processes in cheese making. In 2008 he started Kappacasein Dairy, producing cheese in a railway arch in Bermondsey with milk that he collects from the Common Work Organic Farm in Kent.

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Thursday
Dec292016

I am what I eat: Clare Skelton

This post first appeared on the Borough Market website as part of my series, I Am What I Eat, where I explore the links between food and identity, interviewing traders about the foods that are important to them and why. In the second series, I chose to speak to a few people who have interesting or different relationships with food, such as this interview with Clare who has a food intolerance. I discovered in the course of interviewing her that her foodways are also guided by a strong moral and ethical ethos about what is good to eat.

“I love food, but I also like to be healthy and feel good. Generally I think you get to an age where you can’t just carry on abusing the body anymore.”

Clare Skelton started Flax Farm 11 years ago, producing linseed, linseed oil and healthy and delicious snacks, such as flaxjacks and cakes, made with linseed products. She tells me that linseed was her “first real taste of healthy eating that worked.”

Clare suffers from terrible back pain, joint problems and rosacea. She thinks these issues are either related to a severe wheat intolerance or leaky gut syndrome, which can flare up if you eat wheat. She hasn’t been diagnosed, but she saw a huge improvement when she cut out wheat and introduced linseed into her diet.

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Monday
Nov212016

I am what I eat: Debbie Vernon

This post first appeared on the Borough Market website as part of my series, I Am What I Eat, where I explore the links between food and identity, interviewing traders about the foods that are important to them and why. In the second series, I chose to speak to a few people who have interesting or different relationships with food, such as this interview with Debbie, who is a vegetarian. Debbie initially became a vegetarian because she didn't like eating meat, but her choice is grounded in a solid foundation of moral and ethical values.

 “I always remember not liking meat as a kid. I would sit and chew it and chew it and my mum would say: ‘Oh for heaven’s sake! Go and spit it out in the kitchen bin.’ Unlike normal teenagers, who had pictures of Donny Osmond on their walls, I had anti-vivisection posters.”

Debbie Vernon, who co-owns Ellie’s Dairy with her partner, David, became a vegetarian as soon as she left home. At university in Birmingham, she started experimenting with “strange and exotic things” she’d never really had at home, such as Asian and Indian herbs and spices, pulses, beans, lentils and rice. Was it a moral choice to become a vegetarian? “I just didn’t like eating dead things, it was quite a simple choice for me really. I made the decision before I was even aware of the word ‘vegetarian’.”

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Sunday
Oct092016

I am what I eat: Marcello Basini

This post first appeared on the Borough Market website as part of my series, I Am What I Eat, where I explore the links between food and identity, interviewing traders about the foods that are important to them and why. This post is the first of the second series, and who better to start with than Marcello, a warm and charming Italian with a cheeky sense of humour and a passion for all things food.

When I embarked on the first series of this project, my brief was to look at the relationship between food and national identity, interviewing traders from a range of cultural backgrounds about the foods that were important to them. What I found was that national identity rarely played a central role. Instead what united those individuals was the importance that particular people and places on a more local level—family home, hometown—played in developing their attachment to certain foods.

I wasn’t surprised, then, when Marcello Basini, manager at Jumi Cheese, began by telling me: “I am very much attached to the cuisine of my grandmother and my town, Piacenza” (Emilia Romagna, Italy). What did surprise me was that, unlike everyone else I have spoken to about this, he chooses not to recreate these dishes now that he lives in London.

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