The week that was (29 September 2016)

- This week our bookshelves become a little richer with the addition of The Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook. It is an important book and will, undoubtedly, become an invaluable resource. There are great examples of books like this around the globe, probably starting with Alan Davidson's book on Mediterranean Seafood - just think how that changed their culinary landscape (seascape). We have waited a long time for such a tome to be written about the bounty in our Australian waters (and by such a team!).
As Letho points out, it's traditionally been a murky subject: “What was a coral cod in Victoria was a coral perch in SA and a red perch in WA. But in fact it was an ocean perch, with the scientific name Helicolenus barathri, in all three. Sounds like a fish from Game of Thrones. The fisherman would sell it to the co-op as one thing; the co-op would sell it to the market as another; the wholesaler would give it another name and the chef would put it on the menu as something altogether sexier, and therefore easier to flog. Some of it was innocent. Some less so.”
And so, in the middle of such scholarly achievement and celebration, I was very surprised to see the Sydney Seafood School chose yesterday to send out a press release talking about their seafood cookbook (originally published in 2012). “Please see attached press release on THE Australian Seafood Cookbook – now in its 7th edition … was the first comprehensive book to include information on all the major Australian seafood species.” (Yes, the capital letters are theirs).
Our industry, that is the food and restaurant industry at large, is generally fantastic at promoting and celebrating the achievements of others. It’s one of the things we do best. So why this battle for relevancy in the publishing world (we see it with the journos vs bloggers too)? It’s not very attractive.  
- I attended the Hospitality Magazine Restaurant Leaders Summit on Monday. While I thought the forum and set-up made it difficult to gain many really great insights (and for $300 that would be the expectation) I thought Thomas Pash’s (CEO of UPG) comment on the pattern of food expenditure in the US - where they are now seeing a greater spend in restaurants/food establishments than in supermarkets/produce - was fascinating. Particularly when you consider we’re generally only a few years behind our Yankeecounterparts ...
- Which adds relevancy to Paulette Whitney's column in this month’s GT.  Instead of her usual produce report, she wrote a summary of her time at a recent small-scale farmers get-together, run in-part to aid the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. “What we farmers wish for is an Australian public who move, as we do, with the flow of the seasons, and an Australian regulator who understands the gift of culture that intelligently-run small farms can bring to our country. We’d like a regulator who thinks he’s French, and a public who can cook as though they were. We’d like to ripen our cheeses in cellars and our salami in sheds ...” As always Whitney is thoughtful and eloquent - it's worth picking the mag up for that alone (but you will also want it for Fergus on lentils, their list of inexpensive Parisian hotels, the recipes for many of the France Soir classics, Pignolet on bouillabaisse etcetera, etcetera).

- The “father of permaculture” Bruce "Bill" Mollison died this week. Almost as difficult to define as terroir, permaculture could be considered the precursor for our current ideals on sustainability: “forgoing the use of chemicals, thoughtful garden design, mimicking natural ecosystems and incorporates recycling and the use of waste.” It was in the mid-70s that Mollison and Holmgren coined the phrase and (literally) wrote the book on it – Permaculture One. A pretty incredible Australian, clearly a little bit of a mad-man – but the kind of mad-man we should celebrate. (Of course, we also raise our bat to Max "Tangles" Walker this week.) Vale Tangles and Bill. 
- In lighter news, I loved this prelude to the documentary Barbecue, a feature film pulled together by two South Australian film-makers. I've spent a bit of time researching barbecues around the world and was fascinated by what I learnt. Fire is the universal ingredient and thus looking at ways we tamed fire around the globe (these two did 12 countries in nine months) provides fascinating insights into culture and traditions. Definitely watch their Central Texas Barbecue short film while you wait for the global feature (due to be released in full next year).

- And, a couple of articles, if you're so inclined: Lucky Peach looked back at the history of fine-dining while Salon looked to the future via the demise of professional restaurant critiques.

- Finally, to round out our surprise French edition, I would (perhaps randomly) like to introduce you to the asparagus of the flower world - muguet (lily of the valley). I was thrilled to pick up a tiny bunch yesterday. Charles Aznavour sung about it, the boys at Rugby Club Toulon wear it on their jerseys, but more than all that, it's the traditional spring gift, a way to celebrate new beginnings and to "porte bonheur". Seek it out, just like asparagus, before it's all gone.