Recent Snippets of Significance from the Press
The Evolution of Chinese Food in the UK
All round expert on Chinese cookery, Fuchsia Dunlop, has a new book The Food of Sichuan published next month – a follow-up to her classic Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking. On the back of this, writing in The Guardian Dunlop takes an in-depth look at history of Chinese food in Britain and how far it’s progressed over the years. Dunlop points out that the early Chinese restaurants of the 50s and 60s mainly served up an anglicised take on Cantonese food, but fast forward to the modern-day and we have a new wave of street food stalls, restaurants, supper-clubs and cafes that specialise in all manner of authentic regional Chinese food – meaning it’s now possible to sample food from all corners of this expansive and diverse country.
A Feast of Flavour
In this light-hearted, but spot-on article in The FT, Fuchsia Dunlop gives her opinion as to how best to order a Chinese meal in a restaurant. She concludes that sharing feasts are the way to go, pointing out that a fine Chinese meal is like a musical composition, with its peaks and lulls, and perfectly balanced – a sensory journey that pleases the palate and the mind. They should also be meals that are not solely about gustatory pleasure but also about physical well-being – both of which play an equally important role in an authentic Chinese meal. She finishes off the article with her recommendation for a satisfying, balanced Chinese feast, which to be honest sounds delicious and is exactly what I would want to eat for such a meal.
The Green Green Grass
These days more and more of us are concerned about the trace-ability of our food, and the conditions in which it was produced, and as such ingredients such organic fruit and veg to grass-fed meat and dairy have seen sales soar. But how many of us know what these, often generic terms mean – in this article in The Telegraph Xanthe Clay takes a closer look at the complexities of calling an ingredient grass-fed. While it turns out that the actual term is misleading as most livestock is fed on a range of plants, not just grass, Clay discovers that when it comes to taste, grass-fed definitely wins out.
The Casual Dining Crunch
There’s been plenty of news concerning the troubles facing the UK’s restaurant sector, and now The Guardian reports on just how worrying the situation actually is – stating that more than 1400 UK restaurants have collapsed in the year since June 2018. This figure includes plenty of independents, but also a number of high-profile mid-market chains such as Jamie’s Italian, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Strada, and is the highest number of insolvencies since at least 2014. This casual dining crisis is being driven by a number of factors, with tightened consumer spending due to Brexit uncertainty and rising costs due to the poor value of the pound being but two of the leading factors.
Helping the High Street
Following on from the above article, it’s no secret that high streets across the country are also in a state of decline, and have been for a number of years now, with boarded up shop fronts sadly outnumbering occupied premises on all too many of them. Now it’s just been announced that Historic England has been granted £95m to spend on restoring and reviving 69 of the nation’s historic high streets. Although to some it may seem a pointless exercise, as Richard Morrison in this opinion piece in The Times points out there is a precedent for such investment working – with a transformed Derby city centre being a prime example. Let’s hope that some of this revitalisation also means a boost for local restaurateurs and food businesses who have also been struggling over the past few years.
The Wonderful World of Wine
The World Atlas of Wine was first published back in 1971 and with a new edition soon to be released, Jancis Robinson, who has been responsible for this latest update, has written an interesting article in The FT looking at how the global wine market has changed in the interim. She notes that overall the standard of wine being produced continues to improve, in all corners of the globe, and also continues to evolve thanks to changing climates and the introduction of new techniques and grape varieties. In fact there are now so many interesting regions producing quality wines that this new edition has had to include 230 maps detailing them.
From Noma and Back Again
In this article in The FT, Wendell Steavenson interviews renowned chef Rene Redzepi, and takes a look at the journey he has been on since closing the so-called ‘Best Restaurant in the World’, Noma back in 2017, and then re-opening it earlier this year in a new, countryside location. Although the food at the new Noma is still the same cutting-edge New-Nordic style that Redzepi has always championed, this new look Noma sees the chef running a much more relaxed and creative space than previously, a space that values and respects its employees as much as it values its customers. Given that he is also now seen as a world authority on foraging and sustainable eating and is one of the founders of the Mad collective of chefs Redzepi is a busy man indeed these days, as Steavenson discovers.
Taking Allergies Seriously
Over the past few years there’s been a number of high-profile cases of diners with specific food allergies falling severely ill or even dying as a result of eating incorrectly labelled food. This thought-provoking article in The Guardian looks at how people’s allergies, are still often not taken seriously, with chefs, restaurants and the like commonly confusing medical allergies with fussy eating. As a nation we are becoming more allergic to the food we eat – according to the Food Standards Agency, in the UK an estimated 2 million people have a food allergy – and as such it is vitally important that the food industry as a whole starts to react to this in a more positive way.
A short but salty piece in The Guardian that asks that all important question – are Oysters vegan? Although it may seem an open and shut case, given that oysters are bivalves and a typical vegan diet can’t include shellfish, surprisingly there’s also an opposing school of thought that says it’s ok for vegans to eat oysters. As they essentially have no face and no advanced central nervous systems, if someone is adhering to a vegan diet which is fundamentally about compassion, then theoretically it would be ok for them to eat shellfish such as these.