The Americans protest too much

New Zealand has claimed the “abomination” and “monstrosity” that is mince on toast, after uproar in the UK when an American food website said it was a classic of British cuisine.

The US website posted a video featuring mince on toast to Twitter on Monday, saying: “Mince meat on toast is a quintessential British comfort classic.”

Sigh, add tomato and toast a bun, not a slice, and you’ve a Sloppy Joe, which actually is a classic American dish. Eaten as a hamburger, kids just adore it. Because, you know, mince eaten like a hamburger, who wouldn’t love that mess?

Far the more interesting point being made here to us intellectualliti is this:

“To me it is something that has been around for ever: we had it as children and I would say generations of people on farms have eaten it in New Zealand,” said Helen Jackson, a food writer and former food editor at the New Zealand Women’s Weekly magazine.

“It is an absolute rural classic. Rural people used to have meat for pretty much three meals a day and you could heat leftover mince up for lunch or Sunday night dinner with buttered toast.

“And we’d make mince and cheese toasted sandwiches as well.”

No wonder NZ was such a popular place to emigrate to. It was very late in the day indeed that the British working classes had red meat three times a day. Where just the waste from the last meal was enough meat for the next.

Yes, yes, I know all those recipes like cottage pie and so on but again, it was late in the day that even they became something other than a treat.

Right, that’s it, hang them all

Brussels has announced plans to ban a cancer-linked chemical – but it is also found in one of Belgium’s signature favourites.
The European Commission’s move to ban acrylamide could see the end of the country’s famous crispy fries, which contain the allegedly hazardous compound.
Belgium, which claims to have invented ‘fries’, says the move to ban acrylamide will change the way they taste and destroy the country’s ‘rich gastronomical tradition’.

No, doesn’t matter, the EU has enriched the continent, brought peace for all these decades and created a veritable heaven upon Earth. And they must all die, immediately.

Messing with frites? Die heathen scum!

Height in children is a good indication of the general level of nutrition, isn’t it?

Children brought up on almond and soya milk are shorter than youngsters who drink just cow’s milk, a new study has found.

The plant-based products have become increasingly fashionable, with many extolling the health benefits of them, and others turning to them because of an intolerance or dislike of plain milk.

But the new study found that children who drink non-cow’s milk – including plant-based milk drinks and milk from other animals, are growing up shorter than those given traditional fare.

The research also suggests that children who drank a combination of cow’s milk and non-cow’s milk daily were shorter than average.


This is all most fun

A charity that campaigns against food waste may face prosecution after a trading standards inspection found produce that was past its use-by date at one of its warehouses.

Note the difference between “best before” and “use by”.

“In relation to the relevant legal provisions, I can confirm the supply of food marked with a ‘use-by’ date after the date marked on the pack is an offence. It is however not an offence to supply foods marked with a best before date beyond the date marked on pack.”

Quite so. The defence case being:

“Our instincts provide us with enough to be able to tell if food is off or not,” said Smith. “We want to show that with our skills and knowledge – as chefs and people who have worked in the food industry for a long time – that we can provide this food to anybody and make it safe for consumption.”

So, why not just abolish the whole idea of use by dates and rely upon human instinct? After all, those who get it wrong will pass out of the gene pool soon enough.

Hmm, doesn’t actually sound right really

Fizzy water could be a cause of obesity, according to a new study.

Academics at Birzeit University in the Palestinian West Bank found that rats who were given fizzy drinks including zero-calorie versions put on weight, while those who drank flat liquid did not.

They said that the carbon dioxide in the drinks encouraged the rats to eat on average 20 per cent more.

My own experience is that a belly full of CO2, pre-burping at least, reduces hunger.

Would improve the food if they used it

An antique cookbook from 1793 listing a recipe for curry was discovered by monks, and now budding chefs will have the chance to try the dish at home.
The book, which contains the oldest oldest known recipe for an English curry as well as other Georgian-era recipes, is to be turned into a modern day cookery book.
The unusual book was found in the archives of a Benedictine monastery and painstakingly transcribed.

Yes, of course, Downside.

What fun this is

So, piece at about how Trump is eating fast food. When in the past he’s been very strong on refined and healthy food. The reveal of this is of course just that that’s what politicians on the stump do. Of course, there are occasional mishaps like Miliboy being outfought by a bacon sandwich, but basically they chow down on anything and everything, the more local and disgusting it is the better. There wasn’t a piece of offal safe in the entire country when Chirac went campaigning.

OK, super and all entirely true. And the end of the piece:

Considering Trump’s campaign is imploding for a variety of reasons — as diverse as his bragging about sexual assault and soft spot for strongmen who use chemical weapons on their own people — fast food isn’t likely to save him.

Perhaps we should send for some of these? Perhaps a supermarket might like to try?

Tunisian farmers have warned that thousands of tonnes of oranges might have to be destroyed if more buyers cannot be found for the country’s bumper harvest.

According to Mohamed Ali Jandoubi, who heads the Groupement Interprofessionel des Fruits (GIF), an association of citrus fruit growers, farmers have harvested 550,000 tonnes of oranges so far this year.

“Over the past five years we reached a ceiling of 400,000 tonnes. This year we’ve harvested 550,000 tonnes. It’s huge,” said Jandoubi.

The specific varietal they grow is the Maltese blood orange:

It is, however, very tender and rag-free (like a Shamouti), extremely juicy and virtually seedless. The Tunisian Maltaise has outstanding flavour which is regarded by many, including myself, as being the finest quality of any non-navel orange; in France it is spoken of as the ‘Queen of Oranges’. It is very sweet but with adequate acidity and has a particularly delicate flavour which, when combined with it tenderness, seedlessness and high juice content, forms the near ideal desert fruit.

Apparently good and going cheap…..

Those vegans are not exactly testosterone heavy, are they?

Men who eat lots of foods containing soya may be harming their chances of becoming a father, research suggests.
Fertility experts found evidence that natural chemicals in soya – used to make vegetarian and vegan products such as tofu – could damage sperm.

Researchers in Spain believe the issue could lie with chemicals called phytoestrogens, which mimic female hormones and are found in soya.

Something I’ve been told and I pass along

And also something that sounds reasonable but may or may not be.

Which is that Taiwan has the best Chinese food… least, the best in the classical styles. A little odd when discussing something which is pretty much unknown in China, General Tso’s Chicken (a bit like Chicken Tikka Masala in India):

The Taiwanese chef who invented General Tso’s chicken and made it a staple in America’s Chinese cuisine repertoire has died aged 98, according to Taiwanese and Chinese media.
Chef Peng Chang-kuei died Wednesday of pneumonia, the Taiwan News reported. Peng, a Chinese native who fled to Taiwan after the 1949 Communist revolution, began training as a chef at 13 years old.
He is believed to have invented General Tso’s chicken while cooking for a 1952 banquet in honor of US Seventh Fleet commander Admiral Arthur W Radford.

The point being not that but this:

The Chinese-born chef began his cooking career in his native Chansha, the capital of Hunan Province. He started as an apprentice to famous chef Cao Jingchen, who had previously worked as a private chef for a Nationalist official.

By the end of World War II, Peng worked for the Nationalist government and was in charge of the banquets. He fled to Taiwan when Mao Zedong’s Communists defeated the Nationalists in 1949 – and moved to the United States in 1973.

Those classically trained chefs did bugger off to Taiwan in 1949. And thus that’s where the influence of classical Chinese cooking still resides.

As I say, this is just something I’ve heard and it sounds reasonable enough. Just wonder whether it is? Anyone got experience of varied places out East? Is Taiwanese cooking substantially different to Mainland, Hong Kong, other parts of the diaspora?

I don’t think I want to eat in this restaurant


An Australian restaurant promising to recapture the “stylish days” of the British empire’s “developing cultures of the world” has been criticised amid claims it is romanticising colonial rule.

British Colonial Co, a bar and restaurant in Brisbane, marketed itself as “inspired by the stylish days of the empirical push into the developing cultures of the world, with the promise of adventure and modern refinement in a safari style setting”.

Not a bad idea – one friend insists that the reason for the Empire was that everyone went off looking for something edible for lunch.


In a statement, the restaurant’s owners said they were proud of the brand and upset and saddened by the negative attention.

“British Colonial Co was founded on the principles of providing Brisbane foodies with relaxed, casual dining,” a spokeswoman said in a statement provided to AAP.

“We believe that our decor and menu has great synergy with Brisbane’s climate and the expansive palette of our clientele, who are looking for a melting pot of food and beverages to enjoy in a relaxed atmosphere.”

I don’t think I want to eat in a place which doesn’t know the difference between palette and palate.

Err, yes Polly

It is inequality and disrespect that make people fat.

Back a century and it was rich people who were fat. So it was inequality then too, right?

My own supposition is, and not one that I’d want to have to prove, that it is to do with class, although not inequality so much. Our society has got rich over the past century. But of course we got rich in classes.

The aristocracy haven’t been short of food since 1066 – but it’s not really food I think which has been the major change. It’s been energy expenditure. And that has been dropping by class as the century has progressed. The biggest part of it (again, not something I would want to have to prove) is home heating.

We are mammals, we do use most of our energy to regulate temperature. Being in a temperature regulated environment will lower energy expenditure. And all that it needs for me to be right here is that energy consumption falls more slowly than energy expenditure.

The upper middle classes were well served with coal fires and the like, the middle classes warmed up later and the working classes teneded to get the central heating and the double glazing in the 1980s. Just when that obesity epidemic took off.

Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we did have records of historical obesity by class. And that it followed the patter I’ve laid out?

Sigh, wrong answer

Theresa May has abandoned plans to tackle childhood obesity by curbing junk food advertising and will instead challenge supermarkets and manufacturers to cut the amount of sugar in their products by a fifth.

Ministers have been accused of a “shocking abdication of responsibility” and heavily criticised by doctors and dentists for watering down the childhood obesity strategy.

They have dropped plans to ban advertisements for unhealthy foods before the 9pm watershed and also abandoned plans to ban junk food from supermarket checkouts.

Food manufacturers will instead be challenged to reduce the level of sugar in products such as cereals, yoghurts, sweets and deserts by a fifth by 2020.

The Government will initially take a voluntary approach, but is prepared to introduce legislation to force companies to act if they fail to reduce sugar levels sufficiently.

The correct answer is just to tell the public health wallahs to fuck off.

We eat fewer calories than we used to. We eat less sugar than we used to. Therefore our increasing weight is not being driven by increased calorie nor sugar consumption.

George, George, a vegan and organic diet doesn’t work

I’ve converted to veganism to reduce my impacts on the living world
George Monbiot

The world can cope with 7 or even 10 billion people. But only if we stop eating meat. Livestock farming is the most potent means by which we amplify our presence on the planet. It is the amount of land an animal-based diet needs that makes it so destructive.

An analysis by the farmer and scholar Simon Fairlie suggests that Britain could easily feed itself within its own borders. But while a diet containing a moderate amount of meat, dairy and eggs would require the use of 11m hectares of land (4m of which would be arable), a vegan diet would demand a total of just 3m. Not only do humans need no pasture, but we use grains and pulses more efficiently when we eat them ourselves, rather than feed them to cows and chickens.

This would enable 15m hectares of the land now used for farming in Britain to be set aside for nature.

You need the shit from the animals to grow the sodding grains and pulses. Assuming that you’re not going to use that nasty artificial fertiliser stuff.

So, let’s ban the sale of sugar then

Here instead is a grab-bag of ideas that would convey the same message, some or all of which will one day be enacted. Ban fast-food outlets from stations and airports. Ban the sale of confectionery and sugary drinks to the under-16s. Ban the sale of over-sugared products in supermarkets (as measured by a ratio of sugar to other nutrients). Ban the bringing into schools of unhealthy foods. Ban the presence in offices (like our own here at The Times) of vending machines that seem to sell mainly crisps and chocolate. Specify a weight-to-height ratio limit on air passengers wishing to avoid a surcharge.