The week that was (12 May 2016)

RecFishWest have developed a new app that helps identify your fish. It also contains all the rules around what you can keep and what you need to throw back and it even works offline. This seems like a great move for sustainability in recreational fishing – and how nice it is to catch what you eat. The West Australian states: “For decades, fishos have relied on the hard-copy species guide stuck on their boat or packed in their tackle box.” I’m going to ignore the fact the article is a very lazy re-packaged press releasebecause they used the word fisho. I didn't know that was a thing, but I like it. 
 
Lucky Peach took a look at women in the kitchen via this article on the Mexican dining revolution and the women who fuelled it. "The confidence, economic freedom, and culinary ingenuity of Cámara, and of women like her, converged into a muscular fulcrum that elevated the dining scene. In creating a class of restaurants that generated international acclaim and drew the elite upper class to indigenous and regional Mexican food, these women were challenging the male-centric culture at large. They could be spokespeople and icons of the country; they could be powerful entrepreneurs; they could spearhead a culinary movement. Women had always toiled in the kitchen with no status or prestige; these women demanded that the profession be elevated beyond blue-collar work." There are some great thoughts (and I love the idea of a muscular fulcrum!) 
 
They touched on the "Best Woman Chef" award in the World's 50 Best awards. They raise a good point. “So the 50 Best comes out with the woman-chef category to compensate their macho leanings. Why do they have to make a special category for women? It just highlights how unequal the profession actually is.” And unequal it is. I have been saving this puppy for a while, but take a look at this pay gap. Whoah. 
 
And, in an article that just keeps on giving, I discovered huitlacoche. A beautiful word, I had to look it up. It is a fungus that grows naturally on ears of corn, also know as a corn truffle. It looks kind of disgusting, but in that fascinating, disgusting way. A beautiful ugly. Apparently it's a Mexican delicacy. I had never heard of such a thing, but I want to know more ... Anyone?
 
- From Mexico to France, with this interview with Michel BrasBras talks of his childhood (“permanently swimming in nature ... I grew up smelling flowers; I tasted things”) and the inspiration he drew from other metiers when teaching himself how to cook. He quotes Sartre, "Nature talks, experience translates it" and artist Pierre Soulages "Plus les moyens sont limités, plus l’expression est forte." (The more limited the means, the more powerful the expression.)
 
He then quietly and romantically challenges the Escoffier model of kitchen team as brigade (in the military sense) “As a cook, I am a merchant of happiness. I respect the producer, I respect my guest, but in between, I respect my collaborators [Ed note: Bras refers to his staff as collaborators].”
 
And then he brings it all back to “finding the magic of being around the table. It is simple, it is tomorrow's happiness.” Oui.
 
- In contrast to those beautiful, French, romantic notions of the table, the Oz ran this rant about the culture of the share plate in Australia. It’s a grumpy old man’s take on conviviality, but it did make me laugh.  

"It always starts the same way. A bushranger with an armful of tattoos saunters over just as I’m about to deliver the punchline to a filthy story, looks around like a schoolteacher for silence and ­attention, then asks: “Have you eaten here before?”

My heart sinks. I am about to be informed, after several decades of getting food successfully into my face (some say too successfully), how this restaurant “works”.

“Chef’s dishes are designed to be shared,” Ned Kelly drawls through his luxuriant beard. But they’re not. Outside a Chinese restaurant, they hardly ever are. They are designed to make you sad, angry and mean-spirited.”

Funny, yes, but I think we all know I'm on the side of the French.