3 Nov 2008

H.P. Sauce: Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives

‘For years, nutrition has been regarded as the hobbyhorse of self-denying cranks. No wonder, we are confronted on so many occasions with so many contradictions and misinformation that our heads are left reeling…’
[Raymond Blanc OBE]
I HAD breakfast at the House of Lords, Friday. Once through the dubiously titled ‘Black Rod’s’ entrance, I was cursorily frisked, then ushered into the Cholmondley Room, which was actually more of a marquee. Earthy, underwhelming coffee was served lukewarm, stirred with portcullis stamped spoons. I wondered how many of these became souvenirs. Rare breed, free-range sausages, curly bacon and moist black pudding followed, supplied by Sillfield Farm in Cumbria.
It was remarkable to hear Big Ben chime from within the palace. The event I was attending effectively launched the next instalment of the ‘Real Food Festival’ (8-10 May ‘09, Earl’s Court). The philosophy: encourage loyalty between modest producers and purchasers of all means. In attendance, food hacks, M.P.’s and those who earn their bread by baking it. Culinary luminary, Raymond Blanc, who has vigorously supported the cause for half his life, was lead speaker. He was introduced as the most dignified of the celebrity chefs. Not one to mince words (just pies) he almost trembled with passion…
We face, he roared, several crisis: financial, health and environmental. A culture of short termism has untethered gastronomy from its roots. And intensivity, speed and convenience have dear consequences. Half the world is overfed; half is hungry.
He cited the choice of an apple as being a political one which will ultimately decide what kind of society we will wake up within. The variables: retailer, distributor and country and seasonality. He stressed the importance of the latter, which provides an abundance of produce with tangible taste and integrity of texture. He criticised an obsession with aesthetics and a civilisation frankly overdrawn on time. If we cannot spare minutes for a family meal, our future will be a very nasty one.
‘You wouldn’t put Coke in a Ferrari, so why eat rubbish?’
[Rosie Boycott]
Journalist, feminist, and most recently, ‘Food Tsar’, Rosie Boycott echoed Blanc’s check-up. She called for an end to our binge on denatured, industrialised food where it takes ten calories of fossil fuel to produce just one of comestible. London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, who is apparently as interested in a meal’s origins as its taste, has selected her to take London on a journey of re-connectivity. This seems a laudable appointment because whilst London has enough restaurants to provide a critic a venue a day for the next 30 years, we are actually further then ever from a state of self-sufficiency.
She coolly lamented her mantra from ‘Spare Rib’, a controversial feminist title from the 70’s, which was ‘don’t cook, don’t type, girls…’ She also assessed that over 90p/c of children appear to improve their eating habits when exposed to good ingredients and nurtured in how to prepare them.
Soil Association representative, Patrick Holden, mentioned that eating is one of our most intimate acts. Rather than sacrificing sapid and substantial for flaccid and junky, we could enjoy this necessity to an immeasurably greater extent if we were confident in the provenance of our daily bread…
FURTHER LINK: Real Food Festival