For People with an APPETITE for LIFE!

Welcome to THE MAIN INGREDIENT a place where Food News, Food Politics, Food Culture, Food Fashion & Food Humour meet. Each week you can preview topical foodie matter from my 'Gourmet Lifestyle' radio show called (wait for it) THE MAIN INGREDIENT. Food for the belly & the brain, I hope you'll enjoy the journey with me. Regards Kel

Friday, August 31, 2007

Spains Tomatina Festival

I can't believe I’ve missed it AGAIN! On the last Wednesday of every August there is an amazing event here in Spain. ‘The Annual Tomatina Festival’ held in the town of Bunol. 40,000 Spaniards hurling 115,000 kilograms of tomatoes at each other at what has to be one of the worlds messiest festivals. Actually judging by the photos there’s quite a few British, French and German tourists involved as well. I wonder if it hurts? Apparently participants are advised to give their tomatoes a good old tenderising squeeze before letting fly at their human targets but I bet a tomato in the back of the head would still smart! Actually I think it would be great fun, I’m so annoyed I’ve missed out again. Since 2002 the Tomatina Festival has been officially classed as part of Spain's national heritage, and the festival dates all the way back to 1945 when two participants in a carnival allegedly began hurling tomatoes at each other during a heated argument. Well that’s ONE theory, I’m sure there’s many more! Apparently the locals all don raincoats and capes as the trucks full of tomatoes arrive at the town square at 11am sharp, and then its on for young and old! Ahhh…I do love a good food fight. The photos of the Tomatina Festival always look so vibrant and colorful. Then again I guess 115,000 kilos of squashed and splattered ripe tomatoes would be wouldn’t they? It never ceases to amaze me that so many of the participants wear white though. Thank goodness for high technology and the multitude of stain removers we have at our fingertips these days...... How the hell did they cope back in 1945?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gwyneth Paltrow & Mario Batali 'On The Road Again in Spain'

Now although I quite admire Gwyneth Paltrow she’s not exactly the person that would spring to mind to present a TV show dedicated to Spanish food called ‘Spain... On the road again’. She doesn’t exactly look like she could cope with the massive doses of Spanish olive oil she is about to encounter does she? In fact I believe she follows a strict macrobiotic diet, nothing wrong with that but I wonder what she’ll do with a Churro? Nevertheless, Gwyneth is about to embark on a gastronomic adventure across Spain with New Yorks celebrated Mario Batali. Gwyneth will have absolutely no probs translating as she spent many a childhood summer in spain and speaks the lingo fluently. Although Batali might find his repetoire slightly limited along the way. Gwyneths current diet allows white meat and fish, vegetables and bananas, but she is not allowed to eat wheat, dairy products, tomatoes, peppers, fruit, sugar, gluten or red meat. She does however have a self confessed passion for Spanish food and says "I eat lots of Spanish stuff, the crazy fish things and the eels. I love it all”. It will be interesting to see how the pair pull it off! Wonder if they’ll be hitting the Costa del Sol? I’ll keep ya posted! Most snippets I’ve seen on this have mentioned Gwyneth and Mario as the shows main players, however the series producer Charles Pinsky says that although Gwyneth and Mario will be regulars on the show which starts shooting in October, there will be other presenters involved. He says that we can expect the ultimate road trip through Spain. They'll go off in pairs. The men are obsessed with food and wine and the women want to enjoy the other pleasures of life. Can’t Wait!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Do You Mayogarita?

Here's something delicious.... If your Japanese that is. How about wetting your whistle with a mayogarita? Give up? A mayonnaise Margarita! Mayonnaise, tequila, salt triple sec..... Uggh, I can't think of anything worse. The Japanese have a huge affinity toward mayonnaise, and now they’ve come up with this creamy little concoction and the locals are loving it! Of course the western world introduced the Japanese to the concept of Mayonnaise and most of us now avoid it like the plague because of its high calorie and fat content. However the Japanese don’t seem to be concerned about their waistlines (not yet anyway!And trust me, i've seen it for myself!) They put mayonnaise on just about EVERYTHING! Having said all of that though, Reuters reports that in 2006, the Japanese consumed 1.65 kg of mayonnaise per person, down from a peak of 1.90 kg in 2000. So perhaps it’s the beginning of the end of the MAYONNAISE era over there. Better try one of those Mayo-garitas while they still last!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eat a Chocolate Bar to CURE pimples?

Ingestible Skin care, what goes in eventually comes out right? Now chocoholics can munch away and feel absolutely guilt free thanks to a California entrepreneur called Scott-Vincent Borba who manufactures a range of ‘ingestible skin care’ products including a ‘Chocolate Clarifying Bar’. The zit-zapping confection contains Borba's "Skin Balance Clarifying Aqua-Less Crystalline Powder" to remove toxins and improve skin clarity and the powder contains a cultivated bio-vitamin complex which helps the skin regenerate its natural support system. So instead of avoiding chocolate in order to avoid those nasty spots and pimples, it seems the cause has now become the remedy. Sounds too good to be true huh? Mr Borba also has a range of what he calls “skin-gestibles” in a delicious water or powder packet form. He says “If you put good things into your body, your skin should reap the benefits,you already drink water and you already eat candy and chocolate, so I am putting skin care into your water and your candy and your chocolate.” Ahh well....... For decades, cosmetic companies have manufactured face creams that offer hope in a jar, why not a chocolate bar? Although one does tend to worry, you know what they say about too much of a good thing!

The 2 THOUSAND Pound Drumstick

A woman has spent 2 THOUSAND pounds on a chicken drumstick. Yep!Soft-hearted Vicky Mills loves her pet chicken so much she's shelled out more than £1,800 to mend its injured leg after Lily (the chook) got her leg trapped in a barbed wire fence. A vet warned it would cost a fortune to try to save the damaged limb but Mrs Mills told him to go ahead. So Vicky took out a bank loan and has lived on beans on toast for the last year to pay for Lily's seven operations, saying "I love her to bits and it would break my heart if anything happened to her." Unfortunately the treatment failed and Vicky had to dig deep again to have the chickens leg amputated, and even then her medical bills were not over - Lily was diagnosed with depression brought on by being in the house alone while Vicky and husband Sam were out at work. So the couple now leave the television on all day at their home in Cwmbran, South Wales and Lily has recovered her usually chirpy nature, especially when Vicky serves up Lily's favorite TV meal.... Spaghetti Bolognaise. Now you may well be wondering what this story is doing on a food blog, but as we've recently presented the worlds most expensive 'desserts' and the worlds most expensive 'sushi' there's no denying that Lily the Rhode Island Red hen can now lay claim to having had the world's most expensive DRUMSTICK!

Beanz Meanz Heinz

How about this for breakfast? ……… A FROZEN BAKED BEAN SARNI! Capitalising on the cash rich / time poor generation, Heinz have invented the frozen baked bean sandwich, which simply needs to be heated in a toaster. The impending launch is supported by the following rationale from the HEINZ bigwigs: “If people take the time to cook beans and put them on toast, why shouldn’t we cut the process for them and give them the beans already on the bread, ready to toast?" I betcha ANYTHING it wont taste the same as nice freshly toasted wholemeal bread, with hot baked beans, a little sprinkling of grated parmesan, black pepper, pop it under the grill, not exactly gourmet I know but we all need a little comfort every now and then! Besides……. How will we get all of the stray baked beans out of the toaster?

Fluctuating Chardonnay??

Now this is a concept that I'm not sure about....... A 'Drink Price Stock Market', where the bars ‘Drink Prices’ fluctuate throughout the night. YEP! The Trader Bar in Melbourne, Australia (it would have to be Australian wouldn’t it?) The Trader Bar is just a little bit different from your normal drinking establishment. Above the bar is a row of TV screens which show the price of drinks, and which fluctuate as shares would in a stock exchange. Each drink is listed next to a neat little graph illustrating if your drink price is on the rise or fall. Should your drink drop, it’s time to get to the bar asap, as it’s not going to stay too low …. too long! That is unless the staff purposely ‘crash’ the ‘bar market’, the background music being replaced with an enormous crashing sound and all drink prices plummet to their lowest, whilst EVERYONE makes a dash for the barman. God the PRESSURE! I don’t think I could cope.... So much for a relaxing drink after work!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No More Lager Louts?

How can this be.... Lager is losing popularity among British drinkers? If new reports are to be believed the stereotype of the British lager lout may have had its day. According to research conducted by market analysts Mintel, Brits are ditching lager in favour of more 'sophisticated' alternatives such as cider and rose wine. UK lager sales have fallen by five per cent since 2005 and Mintel predicts that they will fall by a further eight per cent by 2012, meaning that in five years time, the average lager drinker will be glugging their way through 19 FEWER pints per year. According to this report the traditional lager lout, with his beer belly and pint in hand, may be becoming a rare breed indeed. But although cider has been getting a bit of an overhaul with trendy news adds on the telly of late, I can’t quite picture a bloke guzzling down a pint of rose down the pub, can you?

The Dreaded School Lunch

Thank GOD September is just around the corner and the kids are getting back to school. But what to put in their lunch boxes now that Jamie Oliver has us all completely paranoid? There’s only so many ways to make a tofu salad look inviting UNLESS you look to the Japanese for inspiration. Mums and Dads looking for new ways to dress up the old school lunch box and motivate the kids towards munching their ‘5 a day’ may find success by introducing the kids to a Bento style lunch box that offers the little darlings a number of healthy and nutritious options. Brown bag boredom will become a thing of the past with the ‘Bento’ concept, designed like little jewellery boxes with subdivided or even stacked sections that hold mini-dishes. These compartments are easily removed, making cleaning a cinch and creating a waste-free alternative to plastic bags. For inspiration check out Includes Western Bento-style boxes and accessories as well as menu ideas, recipes, & ways to use up leftovers to make lunch fun AND nutritious!

Champagne Fizzles Out

Now THIS is scarey stuff..... The world is running short of fizz as french growers start to hoard their champagne. Vineyard owners in eastern France are refusing to sell tens of millions of bottles stocked in their cellars. Their unwillingness to give up what they see as their retirement nest eggs has left the country’s most prestigious champagne houses struggling to keep pace with a rise in demand from the rest of us bubbly junkies. Champagne experts say that producers will soon be unable to supply emerging markets in Russia, China and India as well traditional customers in countries such as Britain and the USA. Global sales have risen from 287 million bottles in 2002 to 321 million in 2006, with sales likely to reach 330 million this year. However only 32,600 hectares of vineyards are authorised to produce the black grapes needed to produce champagne. Now this ALARMING little problem could be solved if grape growers sold the estimated 100 million bottles stashed away in their cellars. But they are reluctant to do so. The average grower in the Champagne region owns just 2.5 hectares of land. Ahh well…… Bring on the CAVA I say!

Blame it on Mum's Snack Attacks!

Ever get a craving for a Big Mac with cheese? What about that biscuit that you just HAVE to have with your cup of tea or those crisps with a glass of wine after work? Well the latest theory about people that CRAVE junk food is that it all started in the WOMB. Researchers now say that mums who eat junk food while pregnant may be putting their unborn child at a greater risk of becoming obese. That’s the way it works with RATS anyway. Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College have found that when pregnant rats were fed a diet of biscuits, sweets and crisps, their offspring tended to go for the more unhealthy food options. The babies of the junk food-fed rats were also found to be born lighter than average, but quickly put on weight. Researchers believe that the study shows the rats' eating habits were "programmed" in the womb and that eating large quantities of junk food when pregnant and breast-feeding could impair their babies normal control of appetite and promote a taste for junk food in later life. So yet another thing to blame on good old mum!

And while we’re on junk food yet another junk food addict is making a play for his share of the McDonalds millions. A man in South Carolina has sued McDonalds after going into one of their establishments and ordering two hamburgers WITHOUT cheese. Unfortunately he got cheese on both hamburgers and he’s allergic to cheese and is suing for $10 million. He claims he almost died and although McDonalds offered to pay his $700 medical fees, he’s going for the big bucks saying apart from him almost kicking the bucket, his family "risked their lives" to rush him to the emergency room. Oh….. And If you're wondering why he didn't see the cheese before he bit into the hamburger its because he likes to eat his burgers in a darkened room! Perhaps he should switch to Burger King, isn’t their slogan ‘Have it Your Way’?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Just a Trifle too Rich?

A British entry has proudly made the Top Ten of the world’s most expensive desserts at Forbes Traveller with a golden plum soufflé priced at £24, and a favorite of pudding lovers at the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire. Other decadent delicacies on the list are not quite so humble with desserts from Dubai, USA and Thailand coming in ahead of Britain. The Americans have managed to take 3 places with the most noteable being a dark chocolate Brownie Extraordinaire, topped with Italian hazelnuts and served with ice-cream, served alongside a Saint Louis crystal perfume bottle filled with a shot of rare 1996 Quinta Do Noval port, to be sprayed into the mouth between bites. The dessert is dished up at Brûlée in Atlantic City, New Jersey and will set you back £500. My personal favourite has to be the ‘Valfhona Chocolate Sphere’ from Al Mahara Restaurant in the fabulous Burj Al Arab Hotel Dubai. A warm chocolate sauce is poured over a very thin chocolate shell, causing the sphere to implode, which reveals luscious raspberries and layers of chocolate inside. Surprisingly for Dubai it's only $48.00 which is why they came ninth on the list. Scooping up the honours for top position on the list is the ‘Fortress Aquamarine’ located in a luxury resort in Galle, Sri Lanka. For a mere £7,300 you can order an 80-carat aquamarine, balanced on an upright sliver of chocolate shaped to resemble the resort’s logo. It comes with cassata served in a vase of sugar. The handmade glass utensils are not included in the price, but the gem is. Although interesting to note that not one ‘Fortress Aquamarine’ has been sold yet.

Molecular Gastronomy for the Home Kitchen

Itching to experiment with some of the unusual concoctions from Spain's celebrated El Bulli restaurant? Help is now at hand for caterers and home cooks as restaurant gods Ferran and Albert Adria have produced a new kit made up of natural food derivatives to help us on our way to home made hot gelatins, airs, foams, spherical gnocchi, pasta-less pea ravioli or fruit suspended in liquid. (Just what every home cook needs to have on hand). A starter kit priced at £42.95 brings together the essentials, along with a tool kit of two syringes and dosing and collecting spoons. This range also includes Gluco to overcome difficulties in dissolving and other handy titbits designed for the easy conversion of liquids into air. You can pick one up from El Bulli or at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Guilt Free Cocktails

Theres a program called ‘Something for the weekend’ on the BBC on Sundays, and I sometimes have a glance thru it. Yesterday they were on about the virtues of healthy cocktails full of anti oxidants, making cocktails with carrot and apple juice topped up with vodka etc. Have a look in any magazine this month and celebs are already doing it, Madonna likes hers with camomile and apple, Scarlett Johansson opts for passion fruit and honey, and Kate Middleton prefers her cocktails with elderflower and cucumber. Now an article in the daily mail says vitamin packed cocktails are the HOTTEST trend at the moment. So take note girls and boys. Mojitos and Cosmos are OUT and freshly blended organic fruit purees, fresh organic vegetables and herbs, and things such as vitamins, or even wheatgrass are in. Of course they're topped up with assorted vodka's, orange liquers , triple sec and tequilas, (not to forget the specially oxygenated water) They say (THEY being a group of trendy mixologists) that these new wave cocktails will detox you from the night before and get you right back up there again! What d'ya think? Would you swap your spritzers for a wheatgrass and vodka beetroot juice with flaxseed oil? As much as I'm all for any excuse or justification for a drink, surely it's all a load of rubbish? If you're choosing something for health benefits alone then you’d be better of without the alcohol i’m sorry to say, although there is something to be said for the fact that drinking an antioxidant filled healthy cocktail will give you less of a hangover than drinking wine. Why does wine hurt so much when it's just grapes?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

One more Dunk and you're OUT!

This gave me a bit of a giggle this morning, brings back memories of a certain restaurateur in Darwin who used to go BESERK if a diner dared move the fake ‘rose in a vase’ centrepiece so they could actually SEE the person they were having dinner with. He used to also throw a hissy fit at anyone requesting a doggy bag and would slam an old plastic ice cream container down with all of the leftovers unceremoniously glopped together. He WAS good entertainment value though, and its sounds like the ‘Tea Cosy’ in Brighton is just as much fun. The owner of the seaside tea shop is taking 'tearoom etiquette' to a whole new level even going so far as to warn customers that they may face ejection for committing the cardial sin of dunking their biscuits in their tea. Other definite no no’s are daring to clink your spoon on the cup whilst stirring, putting your elbows on the table (my mum would applaud him for that one) and the use of mobile phones. Owner David Daly’s strict rules and regulations have sparked an online debate on Facebook with one entry even going so far as to describe him as ‘fascist’. Mr Daly says "I am just keen to teach people the joys of a civilised cup of tea. People have to obey the rules in my tea rooms and, if not, they are asked to leave". Obviously the tea must be good as customers keep going back. One regular recently braved concussion by deviously trying to carry on a conversation on his mobile underneath his table. Unfortunately Daly walked in and surprised him, no doubt he left with a bump on his head, lets just hope he learned his lesson!

Actually its not just all about the drinking of tea. Whilst Daly plays mother out front, James Green, the chef, cooks up a storm in the Tea Cosy kitchen. Everything from Portabella mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese, cheddar, breadcrumbs and pesto, to mini jacket potatoes with cream cheese, lumpfish black caviar and saffron and decadent desserts such as rose petal apple tart and hot chocolate cinnamon bananas. And you can rest assured their will be NO RIFRAF!

'Aqua Dog' it's Doggy Delicious!

If you like to pamper your pooch, then this little bit of news may be of interest to you. An enterprising Australian man has come up with a way to cash in on Australias booming pet food industry. There is currently one dog for every 5 Aussies and it seems that downunder they are not shy when it comes to forking out their hard earned dollars on feeding their pets..... $890 million per year to be exact! So Andrew Larkey has come up with a range of bottled waters for dogs. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But Andrew spotted a niche in the pooch market when he was working as a new products manager for an international beverage company. Two things stood out to Andrew whenever he entered a supermarket. “The fastest growing markets were bottled water for humans and high-value pet treats”. So why not marry the two? Larkeys employers didn’t go for the idea so he quit and went it alone. He now sells his ‘Aqua Dog Water’ for 3 Australian dollars per bottle and even though it is much more expensive than mineral water for humans it is flying of Aussie supermarket shelves at the rate of one thousand 600ml bottles every week. He's also launched Aqua Dog in the United States, Taiwan & Singapore and is currently testing the product in Japan. The delicious doggy drink comes in 3 flavors: beef, chicken and bacon and Andrew says "The flavour encourages the dog to drink and prepares the body against damaging fluid loss, and overheating during competition, travelling, training or hot days”. Still I can’t help wondering whether a good old stock cube mixed into Fido’s water bowl wouldn’t do the same job?

YES to Ironing, NO to Breastfeeding?

A coalition of childrens charities including the National Childbirth Trust, Save The Children and Unicef are blaming the advertising of baby formula milk for the increased number of mothers abandoning breast feeding before the recommended six months. They would like to see a total advertising ban on formula milk for babies and say it should be restricted in the same way that Tobacco advertising is restricted. Meanwhile Jordan (Katie Price) has taken it in the neck from the National Childbirth Trust for appearing in OK! magazine, boldly bottle-feeding her new baby Princess Tiaamii from an SMA formula bottle. In fact not only was she photographed with her little princess contentedly sucking away at the bottle, Jordan also declared in the article that she loves them because she can throw the bottles away afterwards. She says she doesn’t care what people say about her “You don’t have to breast-feed. I don’t want a baby drinking from me.” Interestingly there is an advertisement for SMA’s ‘Follow on Milk’ for older babies placed on the following page. The National Childbirth Trust has already lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority against SMA. TheChief executive of the NCT was so peeved she took her copy of OK! Magazine straight to the Food Standards Agency in person! As for Jordan........ Would those incredible ‘Over Shoulder Boulder Holders’ of hers still be able to produce breast milk?

Italian Olive Oil Fraud

News from the olive oil front... Of course over here we wouldn’t usually touch anything else but the Spanish stuff, but be aware if you do feel like indulging in a little of the Italian home grown extra-virgin olive oil. The Italian Olive oil market has become soooooooooooo lucrative that adulterated olive oil has become one of the biggest sources of agricultural fraud problems in the European Union. Some Italian oils labelled "extra-virgin" are diluted with cheaper olive oils or other vegetable oils. In some cases ‘lamp oil’ which is made from the spoiled olives that fall from the trees is used, even though it is illegal to sell ‘Lamp oil’ as food. One fraud ring is accused of colouring low-grade soy oil and canola oil with industrial chlorophyll, and flavouring it with beta-carotene. Americans are currently up in arms about this, as the FDA doesn't routinely test imported olive oil for adulteration, and some products are difficult to test.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Power of Advertising

Here’s one for all the mums and dads.... Children find food ‘six times tastier’ if its wrapped in McDonald's packaging. Its true ya know, I make much better hamburgers than Mcdonalds, but you’d never get my kid to agree to that!!

A study designed to find out once and for all the power of advertising, has revealed that boys and girls as young as three found food tastier when they thought it was made by a big brand. The kids were all aged three to five and were asked to rate five foods for tastiness. Each of the foods were presented twice, once in McDonalds packaging and once in plain wrapping. Other than the packaging, the samples were identical. The results highlight the reason I just cant seem to be able to drive by a set of those golden arches without harassment from the backseat to visit the drive-thru. Wherever the Mcdonalds wrapper was involved there could be no substitute as far as the kids in the study were concerned. And the phenomenon is NOT just restricted to fast food, the youngsters also thought that milk and carrots were tastier when they believed they had been bought at McDonald's. All of this was done at Stanford University in the US, and of course comes amid growing concern about the influence of advertising on children's health. Child obesity rates are shooting through the roof (& not just in the good old USA). Experts have warned that unless the Government acts now, an entire generation faces an old age blighted by heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases brought on by obesity, with today's children dying at a younger age than their parents. (Shame on us!). The problem is that although, junk food manufacturers have had to cut down their advertising during kids programmes on TV, they are now INCREASINGLY advertising on the internet. Just about all of the major brands now have their own websites with games and animations etc for the kids……. This research shows just how powerful (& worrying) that advertising is. Personally I think the 'Happy Meal' toy has a LOT to do with their motivation!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ice Me Up

OOOH.... I like these! First impressions really do count and these will definitely make you look COOL at your next little soiree. They’re called ‘Ice Jackets’ and they are actually a special case that you put your vodka or liquor bottle into before filling the case with water and placing in the deep freeze. Once they’re done you remove the outer case and you have a fabulous ‘ice encased’ bottle of vodka. Sit in on a rock pile of ice cubes and strategically place some shot glasses and you’re looking seriously chic in the drinks department!

Oh! Wait a minute.... Ive just realised that base that you see in the picture doesn’t come off, and actually I think it makes the whole presentation look a little clumsy, so NOT quite as chic as I thought. Although the makers do say that the base provides excellent branding opportunities for products and venues.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Is London Overrated as a Culinary Destination?

According to Forbes this week, Brick Lane is the place to go in London if it’s mouth watering curries you’re after. This is thanks to the mainly Bangladeshi population living and working there. Borough Market is of course the place to go for its many specialist stalls and organic food options and there is a never ending stream of innovative restaurants opening up across London making it a major Foodie destination for tourists. However! (& theres always one isn’t there?) A recent column in the ‘Diners Journal’ of the New York Times by Kim Severson says quite the opposite. Kim thinks that for all the excitement about Londons gastronomic revolution, the basics can still be bloody awful. She says that certainly, there is no argument that the food in London has gotten much better but Severson warns that at the highest end where Ramsay also rules, London’s food is very good but frighteningly expensive. She says prices are almost exactly double that of New York and she sums up by saying that the current London food revolution is an overstatement, asking the question: Does a marked (& much needed) improvement in really bad food make a place a great food town? What do you think? Is London overrated as a culinary destination? I’d like to also add that on a list of top ten travel destinations for American tourists released last week, London scored highly ONLY with travellers over 50. Make of it what you will!

There's Something Fishy Going On!

Ice cream giant ‘Wall's’ has been given the go-ahead to use GM technology to make low-fat ice cream. Not good news for those consumers and supermarkets that recently rejected the whole concept of GM products. (Fondly known as Frankenstein Foods) Good news however for fans of the ‘Magnum’ and the ‘Cornetto’ as the company will use an artificial version of a protein found in a deep-sea fish to create healthier versions of both popular ice-creams. So far only a few GM products are available for retail in the UK and it will be interesting to see just how far the backlash from concerned consumers will travel. The GM culprit in this particular case is a protein which is a synthetic version of a protein found in the blood of the ocean pout fish. A clever little protein indeed in its natural state as it allows the fish to survive in extremely cold water just above the sea bed, working as a type of anti-freeze.

By growing the protein on yeast in large vats, Unilever (the parent company of Walls) has found a way to synthesise the protein so that when it is added to the ice cream it lowers the temperature at which ice crystals form. In case you’re wondering “So what?” this means that ice cream of a suitably thick consistency can be created without using as much fat in the process. And we LOVE that...dont we? Well actually NO! Not according to food campaigners who argue that Unilever’s decision to use the GM technology goes against the consumer demand for more natural products. There is however one condition to the go ahead with all of this. Unilever has had to agree to making sure the labels of the new low fat ice-creams state that they have been made by using GM technology. Don’t get too excited though if you are anticipating a guilt free ice-cream binge. The rest of the EU states are still to approve the use of the fake fish protein, so the products will not be launched for at least another 12 months.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Humble Watermelon Gets Ahead!

Someone called me on the breakfast show a few weeks ago to inform me about square watermelons. I don’t know how I missed this incredible concept, but once again we can thank the Japanese, ever conscious about living and working in confined spaces, who developed the square shaped watermelon (roughly pronounced “ar-ta- roo merroh”) to save space and make for easy stacking on crowded supermarket shelves. The concept was actually developed over twenty years ago by a farmer in Kagawa who was tired of having the normal shaped melons rolling around inside his refrigerator. So imagine my surprise upon deciding to investigate, to find these babies! Old fashioned spherical watermelons have been out in the land of the cherry blossom for years, but now the square ones and even the pyramid shaped ones (that I forgot to mention) are also old hat thanks to these new ‘Human Head Shaped’ watermelons. Now the pyramid shaped melons are apparently very hard to grow, so hard that the price for one is a whopping 80,000 yen (around 650 US Dollars or 480 Euro). The human head melons must also be difficult to cultivate as they are also currently fetching around the same price give or take a few yen. Crickey! For that price, I’d hope the farmers are sleeping with these melons and lovingly watering them with vintage champagne!

Thats the way the Chocolate Cookie Crumbles!

Chocolate biscuit manufacturers in the UK are currently tearing their hair out as figures released this week by market analysts MINTEL show that sales of chocolate biscuits have plummeted by 17 per cent between 2001 and last year. A worrying sales slump that may be destined to continue as it seems perhaps Jamie Olivers ‘Healthy School Lunches’ campaign may not have been such a big flop after all. Analysts are putting the recent consumer biscuit ban down to all of the mums in the UK that are following Jamies advice and cleaning up their kids lunchboxes, ridding them of all high calorie choccie treats. And it’s not just the kids that are cutting down, once a British tradition, the good old chocolate covered biscuit is now only eaten by 15 percent of Brits with their mid morning cuppa. The strongest target market for biscuit makers is now the wrinklies, with one in four pensioners still regularly risking a biscuit or two every day.

Salads Get The Chop

Last week we were warned that ready made sandwiches are packed with salt, we were also warned to AVOID grapefruit for breakfast as scientists say it may cause breast cancer. This week yet more food warnings, this time it's ready made salads getting the chop. Watchdogs are now saying that ready made salads should carry a health warning on their packaging because they contain more salt than a Big Mac and fries! They took a look at 156 different high-street retailers, coffee shops and fast-food outlets in London and salads from Morrisons, Asda, Somerfield, Sainsburys, Marks & Spencers, ALL showed high salt levels. Of course this is the UK we're talking about, but Id hazard a guess things are pretty much the same over here in Spain when it comes to fast food options. Something to keep in mind if you are watching your salt intake people, all of those so called healthy salad options might be doing you more harm than good. So no more salads… No more grapefruit…… No more sandwiches…….. Whats left....... Baked Beans? Actually its not the actual salads it’s the dressings that are on them of course. They hide a MULTITUDE of sins!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Pepsi Ice Cucumber Is Over Before It Began!

Now I did notice this little product launch over a month ago but thought it would taste so revolting that it would never catch on....... However! Leave it to the Japanese and their penchant for what most of us would call ‘whacky flavours’, to ensure that ‘Pepsi’s Limited Edition Ice Cucumber Soda’ absolutely flew of the shelves for the short few weeks that is was available for purchase. 4.8 million bottles of the stuff to be exact! Apparently if you put the word ‘Gentei’ on a label in Japan (meaning ‘limited edition’ in English) you can practically guarantee yourself a hit and the whackier the flavour the better. Take ‘Bilk’ for example. Think about it....... ‘Bilk’ is the unlikely combination of beer and milk, and as a limited edition release has been selling out in Japanese supermarkets since its launch last February. Anyway, Pepsi’s Ice Cucumber concoction has had the desired effect and Pepsi have now discontinued the drink even though it was only launched in June. Pepsi officials are already working on their next big fad flavour designed to compete with the phenomenal 1,500 new drinks that will hit the Japanese market over the next 12 months, saying that the real value of ‘Pepsi’s Limited Edition Ice Cucumber’ is that it is SO limited, its GONE. .... Sayonara!