Eight Days (12 January 2018)

- I am a little late to share this, but the most-excellent Parabere Forum will be held in Malmö this year on 4 to 5 March. Open to women and men, the theme is edible cities and the speaking line-up is excellent (including our own Ronni Kahn). The idea behind the forum, now in its fourth year, is to highlight the vision and role of women in the culinary arena, this year with a focus on ideas for the growing urban population. If you are (anywhere) near Sweden you should try to get there.
- Late last year, Jay Rayner penned an article on mental health in the kitchen. “The problem is that so much of this takes place not in front of the diners, but closed away behind the kitchen door. As diners we may complain about the cost of our restaurant meals. We may wish it were otherwise. But the reality is that, far too often, it’s not us who are paying too high a price. It’s the people who are doing the cooking.” It's always important.
Postcards (the one that gets lost in the post and turns up after you get home):
A few random thoughts I would have shared, had I not gone silent:
- Italians call all ham prosciutto. All of it. Not just the finely sliced, cured and hung number. Don't argue with the Italians about it, like I did, you won't win. 
- The Croatians cure their table olives in sea water drawn directly from the Adriatic. Unadulterated sea water, collected in buckets and driven home on someone's lap. We tried it and it worked beautifully. Nature is ever so clever. 

- In sadder news for the Med, we visited Coulliore (in France, near the Spanish border) to taste their anchovies but found the cupboard bare. The locals say the sea has been plundered for too long and she is now all but empty. 

- The Salers cow, a French breed used in the production of Cantal cheese (and beef), won't produce milk unless her calf is by her side. Another clever trick by nature (a dairy cow must calf each year, but most will have their calves taken away in the first few days). Incidentally, the sound of their cow bells floating on the wind in the mountains of Cantal is among my favourite memories from my trip.

- Elderflowers are best picked in the middle of the day, when there is the most oil in the flowers.