The week that was (9 February 2017)

- In media news, Bauer have announced Sarah Oakes will replace Anthea as ed-in-chief of Gourmet Traveller. She comes via Girlfriend, Cleo and Sunday Life. Pat will move into the role of Managing Editor (from deputy). Meanwhile, Chef’s Table have released the trailer for series three. It premieres on the 17th of February and looks beautiful. Phaidon have opened pre-orders for Dan Hunter's Brae book
- The NYTimes announced Yottam has a new column of all things baked and sweet. I was intrigued by the opening premise: "Admitting to a sweet tooth these days seems rather illicit, what with sugar cast in the role of Public Enemy No. 1." Do we have to keep creating a baddy? I'm a little over the dietary swings and roundabouts ...
- And, staying with the Times, Wells’ review of White Gold led me to the story of the chopped cheese, a $4 Bronx/Harlem bodega invention “born at the intersection of taste and necessity.” It’s an interesting story that goes well beyond the ground beef, melted cheese and hero roll. Last year the chopped cheese inadvertently became a symbol of the disenfranchised, highlighting issues with the gentrification of food, the emotion that surrounds it and the politics of reappropriation. It's a good read.
- It's also an interesting topic - politics vs frivolity and the role of food somewhere in between. I found this article (by Zachary Sussman for Punch), questioning food and wine writing in times of anxiety, particularly compelling. 

“As the White House continues to pursue its “America first” policy, I’m reminded that the values we share as wine drinkers—curiosity, inclusivity and cultural exchange—are fundamentally incompatible with this divisive brand of nationalism ... As the expression of a specific country or region, wine celebrates local heritage as part of a diverse global whole. This is what we mean when we refer to the “world of wine.””

I wrote my history honours thesis on feeding the national body – specifically looking at the role of food in maintaining morale and identity during WWII. I was comparing France (as an occupied nation) and Britain and their politics of food and rationing and so this particularly struck a cord: "I once had the chance to taste a rare bottle of Bordeaux from 1945. I was poured just tiny thimbleful, but as I rolled the 70-year-old liquid across my tongue, I couldn’t help imagining the men and women who pruned those vines and picked those grapes. How did they feel at the end of that harvest? How did the future appear to them, after having faced so many unknowns and endured so much suffering?"

I believe food in times of crisis is more important than ever. Let’s not forget Elizabeth David’s first book was published when the British were still subject to rationing. It was a fairytale of the life and food in the Med. Ideas of food should be painted with very broad brushstrokes (see Yottam above). “It’s more than our latest fetishes: orange this, or pét-nat that … Wine reminds me that history’s arc is broader than the last four years, or what might happen in the next.”
- So why not do good, and book your place at the #CookforSyria table at the Ducks in Rosebery? The dinner will be held on the 27th Feb with Muu Lindsay, David Thompson, Kylie Kwong, Clayton Wells, Luke Powell, Mitch Orr et. al. cooking alongside the Ducks. Syrian sister chefs, Sharon and Carol Salloum from Almond Bar, will be cooking a selection of traditional Syrian vegetarian dishes for the dinner too. All proceeds go to UNICEF Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal for Children.

- The drama in Tassie’s farmed salmon fisheries continues with Huon Aquaculture now taking the government to court over their proposed stocking densities. This is not because they want greater density, but, in fact, because they want less. The submission is based on a report that was conducted by an independent scientific regulator claiming current densities are so bad that there is a death ring almost 500 metres out from the ponds. Dissolved oxygen levels are also frighteningly low. You may remember last year’s Four Corners report? As Huon, Tassal and Petuna fight it out (I have heard this tale may also be clouded by business vs business) let’s hope the fish (and good sense) prevail.
- In happier fish news, you might like to read Brent Savage’s seafood-sourcing tips. Not as benign as those columns can be, this one had some great advice. 
- And, whatever you do today, take the five minutes required to watch this video looking at the process behind making Le Beurre Bordier in France. There's a moment where they explain how the salt draws out  "tears" from the butter, and it is the salt and the tears that are the reason they use that particular wooden base, a base made from shipping timber, because it's "a product that knows the sea.” It was enough to make me want to weep. And then fly to France.