The week that was (15 June 2017)

- I'm generally sceptical of the pre-show hype interviews, but this week I thought some of MPW’s responses made for interesting reading. His take on consistency was thoughtful - less thermometer, more temperament: "Be punctual, be disciplined, stay focused, and you will deliver consistency. Emotions are for the bedroom, not for the kitchen." (Can we please leave "passion" in there too?) I also liked his advice to soak your pig trotters, not blanch them, so as to loosen the skin. Oh, and my favourite: "Great chefs, such as Alain Passard, have this underlying understanding of food and nature. They know that their job is to cook it and not mess around with it." Yep. There were plenty of other thoughts in there, some, perhaps, a little old-school, but valuable none-the-less.
- Unless, that is, you're Victor Liong, who penned a diatribe regarding how the "good old days" were actually not-so-good. It was a little predictable in its disruption. While I wholeheartedly agree we don’t need the yelling, I fear for the romance of cooking and celebration of nature that his scientific approach to food implies. Some of the best chefs and cooks I know are those that cook with touch, intuition and an intrinsic understanding of the produce. Food is no more perfect than any human – and that imperfection is what makes it so spellbinding. It may require for everyone to be a little more relaxed with what they get at the table, but I know what I (along with my bf above) I would rather.
- According to this article (which I found surprising), the amount of meat we consume per person has barely changed over the past 30 years - we still consume approximately 110kg of meat / person / annum (2kg a week, an awful lot, really). However, it is the type of meat we eat that has changed, dramatically. Chicken has stopped being the special occasion feast and we also eat way more pork. It is no fluke these are both predominantly industrially/factory reared animals. The article puts this shift down to two things: the impact of marketing (take, for example, the “other white meat" campaign with pork); and the impact of price (obviously the more intensively reared, the cheaper the protein becomes). But to what value an animal? Should 1kg of chicken really be that much cheaper than 1kg of beef? And do we really want our protein grown without variety, without seasonal variance and without a connection to the soil, the grasses, the outdoors? You are what you eat. But you are, in turn, what you eat, eats.
- This one for the “vineratti,” with another look at the state of play in our wine scene, and another argument regarding "natural" vs "conventional". Are we bored of this chat yet?? Again, the m-word is raised. ("They’re a marketing dream all the way to the top of the industry’s peak body, Wine Australia, as it seeks out excitement in an often jaded consumer landscape.") On topic, Max Allen also took natural wine for a little spin through the GT pages - a cursory glance at a few of his favourites.
- As a gauge of the industry, you may want to read the wines chosen for the MW test this year. For me, it was the accompanying questions, perhaps more than the wines, that gave me pause to consider: “Discuss the commercial potential (of a certain wine)”; "Who would buy this wine?"; or “Consider how the winemaker has sought to retain the wine’s sense of place” (ok, I love this one!) The ambiguity alongside the rigour, oh my.
- And back to chefs and restaurants, albeit with another familiar theme - that of the chef worship. More specifically "a roving club of people waxing poetic over their ability to shamelessly indulge one another. The amazing thing is how successful these chefs and critics have been in creating a cottage industry wherein consumers like me actively choose to live vicariously through them. I’m not immune to their charms. I love food, which means I also love me some food porn. I watch Parts Unknown. I eyebang the pretty photos in Bon Appétit.” Some very fair points and a good article, but eyebang? Really?!
Postcards from London:

- Peas, the sweetest, most delicate, little, peas, fresh from their pods - they're everywhere and they're beyond delightful: at Lyle's classically paired with (Ticklemore) goats' cheese and herbs; at P.Francothey balanced stewed borlotti beans and anchovies; but, perhaps best of all, at Rochelle Canteenthey were served unadorned, all alone, still in their pods, as a pre-lunch snack. The weak pound is somewhat helping to soothe these indulgences.

There was also a morning spent at Guildhall Library, where Elizabeth David's cookbook collection and her accompanying annotations have been archived. There's something about seeing someone's handwriting, their errors and edits on the page, that is so personal.

So, penmanship, peas and a weakened pound ...