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
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The Daily Mail rather unkindly points out this week that TV chef Nigella Lawson seems to be getting bigger every day, and they're not talking about her celebrity status. I for one have always rather admired Nigellas refusal to cover up her comfy curves. Besides she's always the first one to admit that she loves to eat! Apparently hundreds of comments have been posted by viewers of Nigellas latest TV extravaganza 'Nigella Express' on internet forums and the BBC's official Points of View website claiming her fondness for decadent and indulgent creations is starting to show on the old hips. One viewer even goes so far as to call her "A Porker". Another viewer asks the question: "What sort of an example is she with her weight and appetite for high calorie sweets and cream?" Now you see i hardly think the point of Nigella's latest cooking show is to prove that eating high calorie foods and indulging yourself with sweet treats is a way of maintaining our figures. So what if she allows herself to pile on a few pounds? Thats her decision isn't it? At no time in any of the episodes so far have i noticed Ms Lawson encouraging us to dig in as a sure fire way to lose weight. So she's looking a little more voluptous these days. We're all adults, we know the consequences of our choices. At least we still have some!
Sorry but i do think certain people are starting to take this whole 'Finger Food Fun' thing a little too far. Just have a look at this ridiculous invention that supposedly allows us to forget the old "Don't Eat With Your Fingers" mantra. A set of plastic cutlery that encourages us to take eating with our fingers to a whole new level! A knife, fork and spoon that fit comfortably on the end of any of your fingers (you get to choose) and reportedly make eating with your fingers more fun. Aren't they forgetting that one of the 'fun' things about eating finger food is being able to lick your fingers?
And sorry to do this but to make the situation even worse i've found these little beauties as well! Apparently designed for that terrifying situation where you are presented a buffet option and dont feel it would be polite to use your fingers. Give me a break!
Here we go with yet another WORLDS BIGGEST attempt. This time it's a 'Lancashire Hotpot' big enough to feed 800 people that has been cooked up as part of an attempt to make the largest dish of its kind in the world. Soldiers from Weeton Barracks and chefs from Lancaster and Morecambe College used 75lb (34kg) of local Bowland lamb in the regional speciality, alongside 75lb of onions and just over 190lb of potatoes. The huge hot pot was unveiled by celebrity chef Loyd Grossman at the opening of this years Taste Lancashire festival. Note the tiny utensils the record chasing chefs are using to create their rather unappetising hotpot. Surelythis recipe calls for something a tad bigger?
Despite our best attempts as concerned consumers when visiting the fish market the reformed EU common fisheries policy (CFP) is failing to prevent overfishing five years after it was implemented. A frankly disheartening midterm report from the environmental charity WWF suggests thata look at the progress of the reformed policy halfway through its mandate, finds that it is failing in its primary purpose "to achieve the sustainable management of European fish stocks". WWF argues that the necessary reductions in quotas for cod have not gone ahead and they want the sustainable management of fish to be managed within a wider marine portfolio. They’ve been campaigning for a UK Marine Act that would protect marine wildlife and the marine ecosystem. Less that 1% of our seabed is currently afforded high levels of protection.
Im one of those girls for whom chocolate just doesn't do it at all. Other women look at me in disbelief whenever i cautiously divulge this bizzarre information. They just dont understand how a person can be unmoved by the prospect of Chocolate Cake, Cookies, Fudge, Mousse, Sauce....You know what i mean. Now finally it seems i can justify my aversion to chocolate as a new study suggests that it all has to do with your particular balance of stomach bacteria. Scientists at the Nestlé Research Center have discovered that chocoholics have different strains of digestive microbes than those who claim they aren't in the least seduced by chocolate. In the current study, 22 healthy men were identified as either “chocolate desiring” or “chocolate indifferent” based on a chocolate preference questionnaire. In a double-blind cross-over study design, subjects followed a one week standard diet including chocolate and a placebo. Samples of blood and urine were collected for metabolic analysis. Specific post-prandial lipoprotein profiles and gut microflora biomarkers in subjects revealed a metabolic signature for the “chocolate desiring” group. …Get all of that? And why MEN?
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Those of you living here in Spain that just happen to be Mushroom lovers take note: Several HUGE mushi's, the biggest of which weighed in at nearly two stone (that’s 12kg) have been found in an oak forest near the town of Orihuela del Tremendal in Teruel province. The gigantic mushrooms are the result of excellent climatological conditions and the over abundant rainfall we've had during the month of September. Time to get picking. They'd make one hell of a mushroom omelette!
I’m sure many of you have been watching Raymond Blancs THE RESTAURANT on BBC 2, and of course its now time for Chef Blanc to put his money where his mouth was and back the series winners Jeremy and Jane Hooper and their concept EIGHT IN THE COUNTRY into a fully fledged restaurant. Located in Oxfordshire the eatery will open next month with a little help from series judge Lee Cash and of course overseen by Raymond himself. Blanc has commented that the winning couple were fixated with becoming restaurateurs, he also felt that they were the most passionate about their vision and what it meant to them to win ‘The Restaurant’. Jeremy and Jane were in competition with eight other couples to be crowned the winners of the TV reality show. It will be interesting to see how they cope with taking a reality TV restaurant into the real world.
Research results out yesterday that are quite SHOCKING. Especially for any parents out there. A pressure group in the UK run by independent health specialists has investigated some of the bigger fast food chains and their family meal, in particular the kiddie meals, and the results are enough to make you really THINK about ordering that fast food fix this weekend. Some menu choices have been found to contain FOUR TIMES the maximum level of salt recommended for youngsters. And dare I say it... Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken have emerged as the worst culprits. Eating a family pizza for 4 meal deal could result in EACH member of the family eating an alarming 12.3 grams of salt. That’s more than twice the recommended maximum of 6g for an adult and almost two and a half times the 5g limit for a child aged seven to ten. If your kids are under 6 its more than FOUR times their recommended 3g per day. KFC comes in at a little less, with a Deluxe Boneless Box shared between four containing up to 5.2g of salt per person. Scarey stuff indeed!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
At the beginning of the year I was asked to put forward my food trends for 2007 and one of the tastes on the top of my list was ‘Greek Cuisine’. Of course Spanish cuisine has been enjoying huge popularity overseas for years now thanks to the work of our fabulous Spanish new wave chefs many of them inspired by El Bulli and Spanish gastronomic guru Ferran Adria. But despite the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ inspiring a resurgence of plate smashing, Greek cuisine and restaurants have remained within the minority unless you happen to live in Greece. Until this year that is! New York magazine has declared Greek food this years top trend and an interest in Greek everything has exploded. Restaurants, Recipes, Cookbooks, you name it, if its Greek it’s HOT! Tourism to Greece as a foodie destination is quickly growing and there are now a multitude of Greek cooking schools that cater for the ‘gastro tourist’ who now requires not only snapshots but also recipes to return home with.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
If your idea of a fabulous long weekend is checking into a hotel to admire the view and enjoy some room service then a must for your list of possible establishments must be the ‘Galactic Suite Space Hotel’ although you’ll have to wait until 2012 to check in. Xavier Claramunt a Barcelona based architect is promising a 3 night stay in his space hotel, 300 miles in orbit for a mere 3 million Euro. Claramunt says he believes that there are at least 40,000 of us here on earth that can actually afford his luxury getaway. Perhaps not the most relaxing long weekend experience though as guests will use Velcro suits to crawl around their pod style hotel rooms by sticking themselves to the walls a la Spiderman. Showering will also be a challenge to say the least as guests will have to enter a spa room filled with floating bubbles of water. No news yet as to the galactic goodies on the roomservice menu, but Oh My God…. Just think of the view. Guests will be able to watch the sun rise 15 times per day! Although I cant help worrying about the zero gravity toilets… To make your reservation send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Ahhhh..... Research, Research Research. So much of it being done and so much of it being available to us these days its getting hard to know which study results to take seriously. Once upon a time the future looked bright in the world of ‘plastics’ but as more and more designer drinks and miracle waters hit the beverage market in their prettily branded plastic bottles you may want to think about the recent results of yet another study that were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. A research team at Duke University have found that exposure to bisphenol A, a chemical widely used in the manufacture of plastic bottles and food containers, can alter genes in fetal mice. A couple of scarey things happened to the poor mice. Apart from the exposed rodents becoming prone to obesity, diabetes, and cancer as adult mice, their fur also turned bright yellow! The study did not examine the effects of the chemical in humans who consume food and beverages stored in plastic so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
If you love your porridge and want to taste the best porridge in the world you’ll now have to make the journey to Scotland. Maria Soep from Kilchrenan, Argyll has walked away with the coveted Golden Spurtle, or stirrer, at a competition where a dozen cooks from across the UK had gathered for a tense porridge cook-off where the appearance, consistency and taste of their oats were evaluated. The reigning porridge champ, now officially titled 'Master Porridge Maker of the World' claims that pinhead oats bought from Oban on Scotland's west coast are the secret behind her success. Aside from that she says don’t forget to soak them overnight, added a bit of salt and some good water.
News from typicallyspanish.com this week. The health of the Spanish people is among the best of Europeans according to a new study of the Academy of Healthy Ageing. The Mediterranean diet and the Spanish quality of life mean that the average life expectancy in Spain is now 70 years for men and 75.3 for women. The numbers are beaten only by the Italians at 71 and 76 years. The report says that that in the Mediterranean Countries not only do people live longer, they enjoy a better quality of life than others in the E.U. So for those of us enjoying the expat lifestyle, fingers crossed that a little of this will rub of on us! However there IS a bad side to the numbers. The low birth rate here, coupled with the long life expectancy, will make Spain one of the countries with the OLDEST population in the world.
Whilst British cuisine continues to gather a growing reputation for world-class cuisine, it is facing a shortage of skilled chefs, according to reports from the BBC. Chefs of ethnic origin are the most in demand, and some experts are now calling for fast-track immigration of foreign-trained, expert chefs to help deal with the problem. However restaurant industry experts argue that it’s the pay and working conditions that need to be improved to attract more skilled chefs towards the industry in general and with the multitude of celebrity chefs now hitting our TV screens the hospitality industry could also be suffering due to the unrealistic portrait that chefs paint of their profession. Peter Harden co-editor of Harden's restaurant guides says "It does seem so sexy on TV, but it's a lie isn't it? You are spending your entire life in a hot, stainless steel box. All the glamour is on the other side of the kitchen door."
Thursday, October 11, 2007
News today that Britain is experiencing a nationwide craving for sausage rolls. Due to the recent onslaught of rain, a yearning for comfort food and a £3 million national advertising campaign for sausage rolls featuring Paddy McGuinness of Phoenix Nights fame, sausage roll sales have surged. Ahhhhhh..... The sausage roll. As an Aussie, for me a sausage roll brings back memories of mum pulling huge trays of the things out of the oven (homemade of course) to serve at almost every special occasion. ACDC even wrote a song about them. “It’s a long way to the shop when you wanna sausage roll” No wait!....... It was actually “It’s along way to the top if you wanna rock and roll” but most of us sang the sausage roll version as kids. I suppose it was the Brits that took the sausage roll down under in the first place, but how did the original concept of the sausage roll come about I wonder? A quick google brings up a very amusing theory on Uncyclopedia. Something about an English lord back in 1647 who was understandably starving after battling the forces of evil back then, and rode into the nearest farm demanding to be fed pork pies. Unfortunately the farmers wife was a terrible cook and hadn’t mastered the art of the pork pie. She had however mastered the art of rolling pastry crudely around minced pig meat, but I won’t tell you what else they say she added to the dubious mix. If anyone out there has any more credible info on the history of the good old sausage roll, feel free to comment. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a fabulous sausage quote from Otto von Bismark a Prussian and German statesman of the 19th century: "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making." Also given as "People who enjoy sausage and respect the law should not watch either being made" Judging by the list of ingredients in the farmers wifes sausage roll mix I'd say that quote goes just as well with sausage rolls!
British chef Gordon Ramsay must be feeling mighty confident these days. He has just conquered New York to become the holder of the MOST Michelin stars in the world. The chef's New York eaterie 'Gordon Ramsay at The London' has been awarded two stars, making his overall Michelin stars tally a whopping 12! The honors come after the restaurant was slammed when it first opened back in January this year with food critics gaily throwing around descriptions of Ramseys food as 'overcooked', 'rubbery', 'leathery' and 'a distinct disappointment'. His Gordoness says "It is a great honour to have received two stars from the Michelin Guide in our first year. To achieve such recognition means a huge amount and I am very proud of chef de cuisine Josh Emett, the maitre d' Jean- Baptiste Requein and our very talented team."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Move over 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Here comes Zen and the Art of a Good Meal! We have german filmmaker Doris Dorrie to thank for the latest food movie to hit our screens and judging by the trailer its definitely a movie that will give you some food for thought. A documentary film featuring Zen master, cook, baker and cookbook author Edward Espe Brown as he explores the guiding principles of Zen Buddhism as they apply to the preparation of food as well as life itself. Truly a movie for passionate cooks ‘HowTo Cook Your Life’ really brings home that old saying ‘You are what you eat’. Catch the trailer on YouTube.com
How the hell did I miss this? It's Moldy Cheese Day! Only problem is I’m not sure if it’s a national thing in America or an International event, but who cares? I LOVE cheese. The great thing about Moldy Cheese Day is that it gives me an excuse to give you some interesting cheese facts. Did you know that eating cheese just before bedtime can not only aid a good nights sleep but the type of cheese you choose will affect the type of dreams that you have? A few years ago and in-depth cheese and dreams study was carried out by the British Cheese Board and the study results were quite astonishing. Many people still believe that eating cheese before bedtime will give them nightmares when in fact of the 200 volunteers who participated in the week-long study, 72% slept well every night, 67% remembered their dreams and none recorded experiencing nightmares after eating a 20g piece of cheese half an hour before going to sleep. Cheese contains an amino acid called tryptophan which has been shown to reduce stress and induce sleep so perhaps a late night cheesy snack is not such a bad idea after all. Although you might like to choose your bedtime cheese carefully. 85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most unusual dreams of the whole study. 65% of people eating Cheddar dreamt about celebrities, over 65% of participants eating Red Leicester revisited their schooldays, all female participants who ate British Brie had nice relaxing dreams whereas male participants had cryptic dreams, two thirds of all those who ate Lancashire had a dream about work and over half of Cheshire eaters had a dreamless sleep. The Cheese and Dreams study was the first study of its kind and the study results suggest that eating cheese before going to bed could turn sleep into a whole new adventure!
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Dubai isn't usually a city known for restraint, but having spent over 10 years living and working there in the relentless heat I can understand the attraction of their latest novelty theme bar. They've allready got just about every theme imaginable available throughout their amazing city and now they have 'Chillout' the new 'Ice Lounge' designed to keep the locals cool and taking excess to the absolute extreme. Chillout sets the theme for yet another massive mall project in Dubai. $3 million dollars worth in fact. The bar has been constructed inside a huge freezer and is made entirely of ice shipped in from Canada. Everything... And I do mean EVERYTHING is made from ice. The walls, the decor, and the furniture are all ice and Dubai's coolest characters chill out as they sip cocktails at 21 degrees inside the worlds trendiest freezer. Oh and don't worry about anyone catching a chill. 'Chillout' offers parkers, gloves and insulated shoes for rent!
We reported last month on an exciting new food show being shot here in Spain. The show is called 'Spain ... On the road again and the cast hit spain this week to begin shooting the 13 part series. Gwyneth Paltrow and celeb chef Mario Batalli have hit the road along with Spanish actress Claudia Bassols and New York Times food writer Mark Bittman on a journey to discover Spains food, culture, wine and nightlife. The new show is set to air on PBS in the USA with negotiations ongoing for Spanish and Latino networks.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Hows your hearing these days? When you pop down to your local wine bar, do you ever have a hard time hearing conversation around you? Perhaps find yourself having to ask people to repeat themselves and then blame it on the background noise in the bar? The reason I ask is that a new study suggests that it may not just be because of the noise in the bar. UK researchers have found that ALCOHOL seems to temporarily drain a person's hearing - particularly when it comes to discerning the sounds of conversation. In a study of 30 healthy volunteers, they found that as participants drank, their hearing became less acute and lower frequency hearing, which is necessary for discerning speech, suffered the most. They are calling this new phenomenon ‘Cocktail Deafness’ but don't let that fool ya as Cocktails were not the only things being sipped by the volunteers. Actually it’s not so surprising to hear that alcohol affects the hearing. It affects pretty much everything else as well. In general, the researchers found, the higher a volunteer's alcohol level - as measured by breath test -- the greater the deterioration in hearing. The hearing loss tended to be more significant in relatively older volunteers, as well as those who said they had a history of heavy drinking. The researchers are not too clear on just WHY drinking alcohol may have this effect, but they say that alcohol could either damage the auditory nerves or affect the brain's processing of sound. Ahh well! The eyes, and the back have already gone, I guess the ears are next. Cheers! Or should I say ChEARS?.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Hey this tickled me this morning……… Yet another example of the powers of advertising. If you haven’t seen the ‘QOURN’ add on TV, it’s a commercial for a vegetarian ready meal, where a school girl sitting down to dinner with her family threatens her plate-robbing brother with the words: 'Eat my food, feel my fork!' Of course the brother beats a hasty retreat as she points her fork at him looking as if she’s about to poke his eyeballs out if he touches her food. Well now a woman has performed her own version of the advertisement after coming home to find that her partner had WOLFED down the pork chop dinner she had prepared for herself. How very DARE he! Incensed, the woman took the add a stage further and actually stabbed her 56 yr old boyfriend Anthony in the leg with a kitchen knife. She said she intended only to 'prick' him with a fork as a joke, however she slipped and stabbed him behind the knee. Realising what she had done, 45-year- old Tracey Wenn immediately screamed 'I'm sorry,' and called the police and paramedics. Anthony Donkin pulled the knife out himself and the injury turned out to be not too serious. Tracey and Anthony are still together though, and despite telling police that he didn’t want Tracey to get into any trouble, the powers that be decided to press charges and she was given a nine month suspended sentence. Apparently on that fatefull night the couple were due to meet for a drink at a pub in Hull, but Tracey failed to turn up and Mr Donkin went home to their flat in Dagger Lane. Feeling a tad peckish he looked in the fridge and saw the plate of pork chops, peas, carrots and onion gravy, heated it up and polished it off. When tracey got home and asked him about her pork chops he casually replied 'I've eaten it.' That was when she lost it and shouted “EAT MY FOOD…..FEEL MY FORK”. After court Tracey told reporters “I just lost it when I found out he had eaten my tea…… They were lovely pork chops as well!” Hell Hath no Fury and all that!
Monday, October 1, 2007
Imagine a salad so large it takes 20 cooks over 3 hours to put it together. That’s one hell of a big toss! 6,700 kilos of lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers and olives went into the worlds largest salad last weekend, proudly produced by the 'Association of Businessmen and Storekeepers of Pulpi' in Almeria, one of Spains largest fruit and vegetable growing areas. Of course waste not want not, after having a Guiness World Records judge confirm the new record the huge salad was distributed to local restaurants to be given free to their patrons. I just hope the dressing was on the side?