The week that was (8 June 2017)

- I enjoyed the Fin Rev's story about Gayle and Mike Quarmby, who have tackled the issue of getting indigenous ingredients into our restaurants and onto our plates. The premise for their business, in part a tribute to their son after his death, was to put the pride back into the outback – a lovely mission. They are now producing up to 40 tonnes of 25 different Australian native plants, fruits, berries and vegies a year - no mean feat, dealing with produce that has never been tamed in the way our ag is. The article finished by listing five indigenous plants to try at home, unfortunately starting with the crystal ice plant, which, while prolific, I understand is not actually native.
- I also stumbled upon the obituary of Fred A. Kummerow today. Kummerow was a scientist who spent most of his life arguing against the inclusion of trans-fats in our modern diets (the “hydrogen-treated oils used to give margarine its easy-to-spread texture and prolong the shelf life of crackers, cookies, icing and hundreds of other staples”). It was a war he waged, almost single-handedly for 60 years. “Interviewed for this obituary in 2016, Professor Kummerow said that in the 1960s and ’70s the processed food industry, enjoying a cozy relationship with scientists, played a large role in keeping trans fats in people’s diets.” That's one we still have to watch. Two years ago Kummerow's fight was won and the FDA announced a ban on trans-fats in food production, effective 2018. It may take a while, but great things can be done with one voice. You know you're leaving a pretty good legacy when you're being interviewed for your own obituary.
- Remaining with small voices and big ideas, the Adelaide Review ran a look at The Food Forrest, a local farm teaching permaculture principles. “Permaculture is a way of thinking, behaving and designing as if humans were going to live on earth for thousands of years more. Unusually, its design principles are based on ethics rather than raw productivity or profit.” I have been thinking a lot about this while traversing the country researching the book. For more on the same topic, you may like to read Joel Salatin’s “profitable permaculture principles.”
- If you can work your way through the terrible puns, you may also like this little story in Orlando about turning front yards into "farmlets". As we continue to ask the question of how we can bring the small lots in to urban areas, bringing the food closer to the people, this is a rather delightful solution. Looking at the recent tree-lopping in Queensland, we could certainly take a leaf out of their book (sorry).
- With so many big issues at play in the world, the celebration of food and wine, culinary culture and, indeed, conviviality can seem fickle. Justin Davidson wrote an interesting critique of Pete Wells’ lack of critique (and justification for the omission) of Noma Mexico. Wells was critical of the cost, scornful of the cultural implications and suspect of its short-time frame. Davidson, to my mind quite successfully, argued against that. “No critic can know what another diner brings to the table or an audience member to a concert hall, what vicarious joy - or scorn - a reader draws from a review.” When done well it's an art form. He's right that, in and of itself, is reason to celebrate - perhaps a celebration that is even more poignant in the ugliest of times. 

- And so, I enjoyed Bonné writing what could almost be described as a pre-eulogy for NYC “ur-wine bar” Terroir. “... wasn’t much different than the patois a lot of restaurant people already used to talk about wine when customers weren’t listening; they saw wine not as a luxury item but as something as culturally meaningful and crush-worthy as their favorite band.”
Theirs was a push beyond straight consumption: “What set Terroir apart more than anything, though, was that aesthetic Grieco and Solomon finessed … Grieco filled the list with essays in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson. (On Austria’s Heiligenstein vineyard: “Vineyard workers still attempt to tame this outcropping of Middle Earth, accompanied by geologists looking for a rationale and prostitutes looking for Eliot Spitzer.”)” Food, words, wine, design. The astute among you will also note the reference to one of our own "ur-wine" bars - Love Tilly (incidentally, just crowned Australasia's best in The World of Fine Wine).
- Conversely, what is all this carry-on about “millennial pink”? Perhaps the millennials were not yet born when the sanitary bins were the same colour. Apparently, it’s a thing, particularly in restaurants. I'm not convinced it should be.
- Finally, my apologies. Last week I forgot the link to the mousy wine story. It’s here.