Diggings 8 February 2018


Restaurant use of native ingredients has gone wild

‘In the headlong rush to brand dishes Australian, our professional cooks are losing sight of what the food is like to eat. (I can’t help but think of a place I tried last year that had really ambitious food but classic indigenous stumbles: eucalyptus powder on white choc fudge, for example. Or another that made a kind of mushroom panzanella with Geraldton wax. Really wrong.)’

I sympathise with Lethlean but it’s not a new phenomenon. Our food history is full of misapplication of ingredients by chefs and cooks who want to ride the wave of the new to keep their enterprises afloat – turmeric latter any one?


And on the other hand…

The “fast food” that urban birds love and the healthier alternatives

‘IT’S COMMON FOR city slickers to feed birds. Whether its ducks at the park or the sulphur-crested cockatoo that perches on your apartment windowsill, we act as 24 hour all-you-can-eat fast food restaurants. According to Michelle Shaw, a nutritionist at the Taronga Animal Nutrition Centre, urban birds suffer far more than other birds as they’re made to cope with different kinds of disease and deficiencies caused by the conditions they live in and the “junk food” made easily available.’

I can’t tell you how often I see people in Sydney Park feeding the waterbirds highly sugared and salted bread who get irate when I point them to the signage that asks them not to do this because of the damage it does to the waterbirds. This is an interesting list of the ‘junk food’ native birds go for.


 …and then there’s…

 Eat Roo Too

 Ta to Barbara Sweeney for this – the comments on the vid are interesting in their focus on the – no spoiler from me – and asking why eat roo – which is understandable as the ad actually doesn’t say either apart from that it’s delicious.


 How to keep school lunches safe in the heat

‘An insulated lunchbox should be used for packing perishable foods. ‘
Sorry, but really?!!! Many’s the sweated and adhered devon, tomato and cheddar on white bread sandwich wrapped in greaseproof and carried to school in a plastic container did I eat in primary and early secondary school with never even a mild stomach ache resulting.

And another thing – apparently school lunch boxes these days have too much salt in them mainly from bread and butter. There was a nutritionist actually suggesting that parents substitute bread with rice and pasta. Clearly she had never tried to eat rice or pasta while also playing handball, cricket, climbing a jungle gym…I mean where do these people get their alternative suggestions from?

Of course, just getting industry to stop putting so much bloody salt in the ham and cheese and white bread little Aphra and Brangwyn are taking to school would be too bloody hard!!


monaco pan quadrato

Recreating ancient recipes, like this panis quadratus made by Farrell Monaco, requires translating, tinkering, and a little imagination. From Gastro Obscura COURTESY OF FARRELL MONACO

Putting Ancient Recipes on the Plate

‘She deliberately skipped some elements of the ancient production process—no donkey to power the grain mill—and approximated other steps, since the details are a little hazy. Using a knife, she scored the bread into eight sections, mimicking the shape of the carbonized loaves. The historical record doesn’t offer any specific information about how or why these marks were made. Monaco, like Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli, who attempted a loaf of the bread for an exhibition at the British Museum in 2013, also used a piece of twine to indent the deep groove that wraps around the loaf’s middle. (The purpose of that groove is an open question, too. Monaco speculates that it could be a useful carrying method, but ultimately ruled it too clumsy for a baker in a high-volume bakery to manage.)’

I so regret not having pursued my interest in archaeology at uni.


The Surge of Chinese Craftsmanship

‘Pan Yizhi is a 29-year-old architectural designer and artisanal winemaker who spent most of his spare time during high school at local distilleries. While in university he apprenticed himself to distillers and winemakers all over China, gaining a large repertoire of knowledge about different fermentation and distillation processes. He now has his own winery in Shaoxing, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, where he has been experimenting recently with culling and reconstructing recipes from ancient Chinese texts.’

Another take on reviving ancient recipes.


Pepsi CEO Says It’s Targeting Women With Doritos That Are Cleaner and Less Crunchy

 ‘Nooyi added that the considered fctors include “low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse?” After all, Nooyi added, “women love to carry a snack in their purse.”

Sorry, but even soft doritos are not going to pass the purse test.


I’m a Woman and a Chef. I Shouldn’t Have to Care If You Like Me.

‘Once a woman has the opportunity to run her own kitchen or restaurant, the idea of harassment and subjection to “bro culture” should be in her rearview. Unfortunately, act 2 is just beginning. Act 2 is the perpetuation of the cycle. At this stage, a female chef’s charge, still, is to find a nonthreatening way to assimilate with their peers, the media, and the public thirst for all things chef…But she will be seen as a disrupter, someone who exists to simply make trouble, not someone who believes a cultural shift in the treatment of women will elevate the industry as a whole.’

A blinder of an article. Where is this discussion in Oz? Nowhere that I can find.


new sci cartoon

These Restaurateurs Say the Secret to Better Food Is Buying the Farm

‘Costs, in general, are tricky. Sohlberg emphasizes that Blenheim is able to cut out some costs via vertical integration — a business term for owning multiple stages of production — but the margins are still slim. “Even with all of the cost savings that we have, it’s still more expensive than buying it from Sysco or any of the other distributors,” he says.

That’s especially the case since neither restaurant is marking up their dishes to make up for the difference, lest they lose customers. Their menu prices are comparable (or in many cases, lower than) those of other restaurants in the neighbourhood.’

I’m curious to know how these US experiences compare with farmer-chef experiences in Aus. Anyone know of any research/articles?


%d bloggers like this: