Diggings 4 May 2019

tetragonula honey RAS apr 2019

‘Bloody good’: Royal Easter Show honey competition tickles taste buds

While the competition is an opportunity to recognise the best native honey, it is also important to remember that Indigenous populations have “prized it for thousands of years”, Dr Smith said. Native bee hives, which are not as common as European ones, only produce an average of 600 millilitres of honey per harvest. Each bottle of honey can be worth up to $200 per kilogram.

Which of course raises the question for me, are there any Indigenous individuals or groups in the native honey business and are any of them in competition?

I went to the Show and was sorely disappointed that the native honey was not highlighted in anyway – sure it had its own glass case but you had to know what you were looking for to realised that the labels on the style of honey   – tetragonula (top pic) and australoplebeia (bottom pic) – referred to it being from native bees.


austroplebeia honey RAS apr 2019

Sweet-and-sour cane toad, cat consommé: Kirsha Kaechele serves up new approach to sustainability

Nearly 10% of the world’s bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile species on the brink of extinction could be saved by killing invasive mammals such as cats and rats on 169 islands – including Tasmania. In collaboration with longstanding Mona chef Vince Trim, Kaechele has designed a nine-course degustation feast, some of which is based on recipes in the book, which include sweet-and-sour cane-toad legs, myna-bird parfait, fox tikka masala and, most controversially, coal-roasted cat.

The headline is rubbish, of course. There is nothing in what’s described in the article as the food to be served during this Mona event that remotely is about sustainability – getting rid of a pest doesn’t equate with making sustainable what was under threat and you are going to have to eat a very very very large number of cats at rates faster than they breed to make much of a dent in their population even if you could get people to eat them outside of an art event. Still, I’m always up for someone challenging to boundary between the taboo and the sanctioned food-wide.


I am not the only one who thinks this is more about the art than about proposing any realistic solution.

Still, while this premise offers a good starting point for critical discussion, the outcome comes across, in my view, as little more than an exquisitely designed elitist spectacle. It fails to take into consideration the complex realities this proposition entails and does not seem to recognise how the design and curatorial decisions draw attention to – but don’t challenge – the growing disparity between the rich and the poor.


sweet and sour cand toad legs kaechele apr 2019

The Serene Pleasure of Watching People Cook in the Chinese Countryside

What’s the appeal of these videos to viewers who, at least on the non-Chinese version of the app, presumably share very little in common with strangers preparing wholly unfamiliar dishes in the apparent mountains of Sichuan? That foreignness to an English-speaking audience may itself be part of the draw, along with the use of cooking methods that seem totally anachronistic to people who are used to using stoves and microwaves. Common refrains of “you do know you can just use a kitchen, right?” and “my man out here in the 1800s” (as well as predictably, racist suggestions that the Chinese men are cooking dog meat) litter the comments, highlighting the distant and clumsy lens through which many non-Chinese users view these videos.

The two videos embedded in this story are sublime. Now to get to the dandelions on the footpath.


Syrian Refuges Toil on Tukey’s Hazelnut farms with Little to Show for It

For chocolate companies, all of this presents a conundrum. While other countries have tried to bolster their hazelnut production, Turkey remains the mother lode, and it is impossible to satisfy international demand without buying heavily here. But buying hazelnuts in Turkey means supporting a crop with glaring humanitarian flaws.
“In six years of monitoring, we have never found a single hazelnut farm in Turkey in which all decent work principle standards are met,” said Richa Mittal, the director of innovation and research for the Fair Labor Association, which has done fieldwork on Turkey’s hazelnut crop. “Across the board. Not one.”


Bread Pudding and the Comforts of Queer Baking

So I kept baking for the rest of my years at home, until I moved out to find my own, and the dish became creamier, more sumptuous, preferably laced with white chocolate, and doused with a sauce of condensed milk. Bread pudding was the first thing that I baked after I came out to my parents: one batch, for myself (because holy fuck), and, later, one for my mother, scalding and soaked in coconut milk splashed with rum. A few weeks after that, I made another, for my father, sans the alcohol but with an extra sprinkling of sugar; that same evening, I baked one for my boyfriend, an older dude, and we ate it in bed, sick to our stomachs, grinning and with sticky fingers.

My mum used to make bread pudding tough it was more towards the bread end – pretty thick and solid – than toward the pudding end. A mate of mine makes a version with brioche soaked in crème fraise that is splendid. I am pretty sure, thought, the bread pudding did not make me queer.


anzac biscuits spects golding apr 2019

If we care about plastic waste, why won’t we stop drinking bottled water?

‘Chetan-Walsh argues that bottled water is different because the alternatives are so obvious. “If a product that is so nakedly unnecessary can exist, then the whole system is failing,” he says.’

Yep, the most destructive, unscientific marketing scam ever.


The Lamington Tax

I was wildly excited by this addition to the recruitment of Oz food for economic explanation in the Sydney Morning Herald in April.

lamington tax apr 2019

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