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Food corner

"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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Thursday
Dec052013

Heston Blumenthal on cooking for friends

Gabriel Tate: Is the pressure greater on you when you cook for guests, or on them when they cook for you?

Heston Blumenthal: Me. I only realised this last year. Young chefs can be a bit cocky and criticise other people. For me, sitting round a table at someone's house and having someone cook for you - it's a real treat. I'm easy to cook for. But what happens if someone comes to my house and I just give them bolognese? They'll wonder why the can't eat the bowl.

Time Out interview

Thursday
Jun062013

Jay Rayner on Balthazar

"The best dishes we tried were a seafood linguine with lots of roast garlic and bite and kick, and a crème brûlée. Mind you, if they couldn't knock out one of those – soft light crème, crisp-thin shell – it would be time for the pitchforks and burning stakes. The rest ran on an onomatopoeic scale from ho hum to meh."

Jay Rayner

Saturday
Mar022013

Warren Belasco on the American food chain

"I tell students that eating is more than a private, physiological act. It connects us to people and places all over the world – past, present and future. As an example, I invite them to think about the simple act of toasting and eating a slice of packaged white bread. Growing that wheat helped some Midwestern farmers pay their bills while also polluting their water supply with fertilizers and pesticides, eroding their soil, and, if they used irrigation, lowering their region's water table. The land used to grow the wheat had been acquired – or seized – long ago from other living creatures, human or otherwise, and converted to growing a grass that had originated as a weed in the Middle East and had been gradually domesticated and improved by countless generations of gatherers, peasants, farmers, and, only just recently scientists. Turning wheat into bread required the coordinated efforts of numerous companies specializing in food transportation, storage, processing, and marketing, as well as others involved in manufacturing and selling farming equipment.

 

By extending the bread's shelf life, the plastic wrapping lowered costs and increased profits for corporate processors, distributors and supermarkets. That packaging also helped to put thousands of neighbourhood bakers out of business. Making the plastic from petrochemicals may have helped to foul Cancer Alley in Louisiana and, if the oil came from the Middle East, may have helped to pay for the reconstruction of Kuwait, which was destroyed several years ago by an Iraqi army also financed by petrochemical bread wrappers. The copper in the toaster and electrical wiring may have been mined during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile or Mobutu's Zaire or Bruce Babbitt's Arizona. The electricity itself probably came from a power plant burning coal, a source of black lung, acid rain, and global warming. And so on... All of this – and more – was involved in making toast. And we have not even mentioned the butter and jam!"

Warren Belasco in The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating: A Reader (2005:217)

Monday
Jan212013

Ilva Beretta on blogging

"Starting a blog is a bit like going to a party where you  don't know anyone, you start talking to the person standing next to you and then, slowly, slowly you start talking with more people and suddenly you realize that you are up on the table dancing and enjoying yourself immensely."

Ilva Beretta, Lucillian Delights blog

Friday
Dec282012

Diana Henry on preserving

"I am a home cook. I don't have masses of special equipment and I don't do things on a grand scale. Quite a lot of the literature that existed on preserving was off-putting. I didn't want to turn my garden shed into a smokery. I could never manage - and would never need - to cure a whole pig. Preserving looked as if it was either for elderly ladies in floral pinnies or or country-based downsizers with a vehicle big enough to transport several dead animals. I didn't come into either category."

Henry, D. (2012) Salt, Sugar, Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat and Fish. London: Mitchell Beazley. p. 6.