Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fast Slow Food

I think there's a misunderstanding that needs rectifying.

I've heard critics of the Slow Food movement say plaintively, "But I like some fast food... like char kway teow and banh mi and pizza." I don't think adherents to Slow Food have a problem with a carefully and well produced food item; what they do wish to see the end of, is the absolute dumbing down of once important elements of a food culture. Food variety is going to become as extinct as quickly as the animals and birds we’re knocking off every few years.

Take pizza for instance. There’s pizza and then there’s pizza. There’s unidentifiable fat with plastic cheese and nasty processed meat sort of pizza, delivered by a spotty youth on a motorbike who is no advertisement for the product. And then there’s thin crisp dough topped with a ‘less is more’ essence of tomato sugo, a slice of provolone and a couple of olives. Maybe an anchovy if you’re feeling risqué. And sold with pride by the person who made it.

I’d call the first version fast ‘food’ (I use the word food loosely. Maybe it should be called fast ‘food.’) and the second slow.

Slow food does not dictate that you must grow everything yourself, cook every single dish from scratch, and never eat out. I had the ultimate slow breakfast last weekend ~ delicious ful madammes (Egyptian beans) ~ cooked long and slow with lots of spices and topped with a free range egg. And I had it out, at an Egyptian restaurant, to which we drove by car.

Marvellous quickly prepared fresh food is available all over the world. Pho, flash in the wok noodle dishes, felafel, bacon & egg rolls. All ready to the consumer in the wink of an eye. But it’s their preparation and provenance that determines whether they’re slow or fast. Did the pig for the bacon and the chickens for the eggs grow up in a cage full of its own excrement, choking on ammonia? Was the bacon smoked using a cornucopia of chemicals in a factory with dodgy hygiene standards? Was the rice for the noodles of the pho genetically modified.

The Slow Food movement, if I’m not mistaken, just wants to see respect, care and concern taken over the growing and production of the ingredients that go into our favourite bodily function ~ eating.

In my world, the slow includes: slowing down to think about who produced it, in what circumstances, using what aids, in what sort of factory, to what end. It doesn’t just mean braising something for 5 hours.

Rules to live by:

If it contains more numbers than things you recognise in the ingredient list DO NOT put it in your mouth.

If it’s claim includes less fat, less sugar, less salt, DO NOT put it in your mouth, and at least ask yourself ‘less than what?’

And perhaps the 7 most important words of the 21st century given to us by Michael Pollan: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

And perhaps I’d add one more word ~ SLOWLY. You know your mother would applaud that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wedding Cheese Cakes

No, not the nasty refrigerated cream cheese variety, or even the delicious quark baked German variety... an architectural wonder of artisan Irish cheese availalbe from Sheridans Cheesemongers in Ireland. I LOVE IT.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Organic Challenge: Shopping in Sydney

So I decided to go online shopping to see how 'organically' we could live for a week. As I've said we spend around $200 a week on food (we love to eat), but I thought I'd try $100 ~ say you're a single person who loves to eat.

And this is what we got from Abundant Organics delivery service in Sydney, had we decided to press the checkout button.

You can see what we had in the basked more clearly by clicking on the two images. There certainly wasn't going to be a lot of meat eaten this week. That's okay.

The premise was there should be something to add to all this left over in the store cupboard at home, just like next week there'll still be rice.

I feel like I'm playing 'Ready Steady Cook' but here's what I'd do with this lot.

I think one could make Osso Buco using the meat, the carrots, the onions and maybe add the cannelini beans, a zucchini frittata, a risotto with the pumpkin and feta and herbs. And then there's still the chicken to do something with. Perhaps on the barbie, with some grilled red capsicum and a Greek salad with some more feta, cucumber and tomatoes and any parsley that might be hanging around. There's not a great deal of fruit in here. But I think maybe you could get five lunches and dinners from it with the addition of bread for sandwiches. And to continue on the Greek theme, perhaps devote a potato or two to making a skordalia (We surely must have garlic and olive oil in the store cupboard.)

The pros of this site: a big range in all departments.
The cons: I would rather be able to order a number of lemons (say 5) than a percentage of a kilo.

AND I really would have liked to have had a whole chook on offer, because then I could have used the bones to make stock to use in the risotto.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Please visit

Yes, another new blog. Please come and visit at organic australia. It's devoted to discussion and resources of all edible organic things produced and consumed in Australia.

As part of this blog though, let's do the organic challenge. Find an online delivery service, buy $100 worth. I certainly don't expect that we can eat 100% organic/sustainably produced, but I'd like to see how to utilise the delivery services for a week. Will it be enough for two? Will we be too many potatoes? At least, given it's summer here there should be some interesting fruit. I get very tired of apples and pears in winter. Will we able to afford any meat. We're going to interrogate organic delivery in each of Australia's capital cities. Want to try?