The week that was (23 July 2015)

Soap box:

- The shock news this week is the announcement that Penguin Random House will cut the Lantern(cookbook) arm in 2016 and, with it, will go its publishing director Julie Gibbs, who is set to depart at the end of the year. Simon Thomson had the story in BI: "The cutbacks at Lantern essentially herald the end of the golden era of cookbook publishing. Lantern’s once great rival, Murdoch Books ... endured major redundancies in early 2012 before the business was sold to Allen and Unwin later that year." Julie has worked tirelessly and brought some amazing books to our shelves, she will be sorely missed. 

- Speaking of books, I recently read 10% Humana book by Alanna Collen. Not a cookbook, this book delves into the role of our microbiota, specifically looking at its impact on Western diseases (inc obesity and the prevalence of food allergies), mental health and auto-immune diseases. It was paralysing and enthralling in equal measures. There were plenty of food-related buzz words to keep me focussed.

In particular, I was fascinated to learn antibiotics were first given to livestock in the '50s, to accelerate growth/encourage weight gain, not to keep them healthy in a crowded environment. Would it be shocking to suggest a parallel outcome in humans? Collen also looks at the role of probiotics (the opposite to antibiotics, a correlation so obvious, but I had never seen it) on our gut flora. She wasn't talking about adding a tablet to your daily routine, but how you can nurture and encourage your friendly microbes through a diet high in fibre and different fermented foods. We're going to hear more about this. I think it's a bandwagon worth jumping on and a book worth reading.

Adam Liaw's feature recipes in the SMH riled me up this week. The article looked at under-used cuts of beef and I was perplexed to see him use the American butchers' terminology, not the Aussie/British. The meat world is a convoluted one, a veritable tetris of cuts, but if you are going to explain it you should do it right, and calling the tri-tip "bottom sirloin" is just plain confusing. The rump does join the sirloin, but is made up of three key muscles: the triangular shaped tri-tip (the tail of the rump), the rost biff or eye and finally the cap. Liaw would also have you calling the cap by the American name "top end of sirloin". I'm all for looking around the world for reference (and personally love the South American name "picanha" for the rump cap, a cut they quite rightly hold in the highest regard). But research should mean more than (the American) wikipedia. 
- I finish today with a little random piece of information. Did you know that chooks naturally stop laying in winter, so their bodies can concentrate on growing winter feathers/down? Did you know that chooks are born with a certain number of eggs, just like humans, and so when fooled into thinking it's summer all year round (by the artificial lights, heat and purpose breeding etc) they lay all the eggs in succession (and thus die/are killed much younger). Did you know the passing of the winter solstice generally means a return to egg laying for backyard chooks?? If not, you do now!