Andy Mahoney realised his habit was getting out of hand a few months ago, during a visit to an old coastal fort on the Hampshire coast. "I saw white mould on the wall, so I put some in my mouth to see if it was any of the moulds I was expecting," he says. "It struck me that maybe I'd gone a bit crazy." Mahoney's brain had turned, as it often does, to cheese. He has attempted to make every imaginable type of cheese, with all kinds of mould. In the course of his experiments, he has even invented a few franken-cheddars of his own. (He's also poisoned himself a couple of times, but that hasn't stopped him yet.) Mahoney belongs to a rare sub-species of gastronome: the obsessive. These individuals seek to master one particular foodstuff; they are in pursuit of an elusive Platonic form and will go to extreme lengths to get it. Seldom are they professional chefs – the catering industry lacks the time and nerve for such tunnel vision. In some cases the obsession has led to a relevant job … [Read more...] about Food obsessives: the people searching for the perfect cheese, bread and coffee
Why does restaurant food taste better
Pret A Manger, 87-88 The Strand, London WC2. Meal for two, including wine and service: £45 There’s a story that in the decades following the Second World War, Reading in Berkshire was regularly judged the most typical town in Britain. As a result whenever there was a new traffic system that needed trialling – triple anti-clockwise mini-roundabouts, reactive traffic lights, annoying roadside signs with happy or sad faces triggered by your speed – it was introduced first in Reading. As a result Reading became the most atypical town in Britain. Well, this evening I am sitting in the Reading of the Pret A Manger sandwich shop chain, a branch on London’s Strand that has been given every possible bell and whistle for the trial of an evening waiter-service menu and is hence now entirely atypical. The Pret star outside is black and silver, and there’s tiling to match at the far back of the shop. Behind the till a graphic-embossed screen has been pulled down … [Read more...] about Pret A Manger: restaurant review
It is said to be better at lowering cholesterol than statins, and able to prevent dementia and heart disease, and will not make you fat. Anything that good for you might be expected to smell foul and come in a medicine bottle, but the Mediterranean diet is generally considered to be delicious, except by those who hate olive oil. It is a potential answer to the obesity crisis crippling healthcare systems, but few understand exactly what the diet is and most of us do not follow it, including increasing numbers of people who live in the Mediterranean. The scientist Ancel Keys and the cookery writer Elizabeth David, two of the pioneers who helped open the eyes of northern Europeans to the wonders of the Mediterranean diet, must be turning in their graves. We are constantly presented with paeans to the Mediterranean way of life and were faced with yet another this week, when a study presented at a heart disease conference in Rome claimed that those who ate a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, … [Read more...] about What actually is the Mediterranean diet – and does it work?
America’s sustainable food movement has been steadily growing, challenging consumers to truly consider where our food comes from, and inspiring people to farm, eat local, and rethink our approaches to food policy. But at the same time, the movement is predominantly white, and often neglects the needs and root problems of diverse communities. Issues of economic inequality and systemic racism permeate our national food system. The movement’s primary focus has been on finding solutions to “food deserts” – defined as areas empty of good-quality, affordable fresh food – by working to ensure that affected neighborhoods have better access. But some advocates, and studies, have argued that the proximity of a well-stocked grocery store is not enough of a solution given this country’s elaborate food problems. Farm subsidies in the United States go predominantly to white farmers, which has led a group of black farmers to sue the US government for … [Read more...] about Food apartheid: the root of the problem with America’s groceries
I'm sitting across the table from a powerful LA publicist in a swanky hotel on Sunset Boulevard. We're discussing which films will be hot this autumn, while the waiter hovers ready to take our order. 'Hi, Renaldo,' says the publicist, 'I would like the organic greens, torn not chopped, do you know when they were harvested?' He doesn't. 'Then I would like the steamed vegetables, no peppers or tomatoes, make sure the pot is not aluminium, the whole-grain rice steamed, and a sealed bottle of organic rain water...' The publicist tells me that since she started eating 'live foods' - not, I hasten to add, meaning fish that still thrashes about on your plate, but a diet mainly consisting of raw vegetables, fruit, sprouts, soaked grains, seeds and nuts - she has cleansed her body of toxins and impurities, and now has so much energy she hikes before breakfast. I decline to ask what exactly it was she ate for breakfast, but I'm sure it wasn't a bowl of Coco Pops. In America, extreme fussiness … [Read more...] about Yellow is not the only colour