Posts tagged food

Christmas cancelled?

It’s that time of year again, when the rumour circulates that Christmas has been cancelled to avoid upsetting members of other faiths.

This is of course pure nonsense whipped up by fearful and over-sensitive right-wing commentators in the media and has been debunked every time it’s been mentioned.

Who’s to say that adherents of other religions don’t enjoy the Christmas celebrations as much as followers of Christ? Jesus was after all born Jewish and under the name of Isa, is regarded as one of the twenty-five prophets of Islam

As proof that this year’s Christmas has not been cancelled by the anonymous PC Brigade, here’s a shot taken of the window of my nearest butcher in Roman Road, Easton. Please supply your own stuffing and cranberry sauce. 😀

Poster reads place your fresh halal turkey order now

Cancelling Christmas has a long history in this country, stretching back to the mid-17th century when, following the English Civil War, the the Commonwealth of England was governed by a parliament dominated by Puritans, who objected to certain practices they viewed as unbiblical, including the long-established feast of Christmas. In 1647, the English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting and considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification“, as well as a time of wasteful and immoral behaviour. Protests followed: pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and indulged in other practices bound to annoy the killjoys who have been with us ever since.

All of which brings us to the infamous Winterval. Frequently cited as the ultimate Cancel Christmas event, Winterval was nothing of the sort, but a mere two events held in successive winters in November and December 1997 and 1998 to encourage people to return to the newly rejuvenated city centre. These featured secular and religious events marking religious and other occasions, including Christmas, during those two months. Winterval has since become popular shorthand for misrepresented events to “rebrand” Christmas so as not to exclude non-Christians.

Bristol Post exclusive: Journalist eats catering establishment

Today’s Bristol Post website features another of modern journalism’s highlights – the hidden exclusive (posts passim), although this particular style of hackery is not itself peculiar to publications in the Reach plc stable.

Yesterday’s Bristol Post hidden exclusive features Mark Taylor, allegedly the title’s food, drink and restaurant critic, who seems to have eschewed protein, carbohydrates and fat for a more substantial diet, in this case the shipping container housing the soon-to-open Choux Box Patisserie down by the city docks. At Wapping Wharf shipping containers replace the construction materials of more traditional eateries.

Headline reads: Delicious new patisserie to open in Bristol

There’s only one place I know of where eating buildings is not unusual and that’s the tale of Hansel and Gretel, first published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm.

Hansel, Gretel, the witch and the gingerbread house

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For some reasons known only the the residents of the Temple Way Ministry of Truth, Mr Taylor’s piece is strangely quiet about the quality of the ingredients used for the shipping container. 😉

Finally, your ‘umble scribe must remark that given his constitution, Mr Taylor may like to start training for food challenges of the Man v. Food reality show variety, of which there are plenty to punish his palette in Bristol.

Sunlit uplands – latest

How are matters progressing five years on from that referendum and over 6 months since the end of the Brexit transition period?

In simple terms, what was dismissed as Project Fear has very much become Project Reality.

Crops are rotting in the fields due to a lack of seasonal workers to pick them, whilst a shortage of lorry drivers means that any fresh produce that does get picked might not be delivered to shops and supermarkets.

Photo of empty supermarket fruit and vegetable section over shelving headed Pick of the Crop and Best of British

Floreat Brexitannia!

May blossom

We’re now in May and one reliable natural occurrence of the time of year is the flowering of common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), which is also known as the oneseed hawthorn, or single-seeded hawthorn.

Other common names include may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw.

The Woodland Trust have produced a short video depicting one year in the life of the hawthorn.

The specimen below can be found in the Easton section of the Bristol & Railway Path near the Brixton Road access point.

Hawthorn tree on Railway Path in Easton

Hawthorn is amongst the first trees to start budding in the spring (the above specimen first put out leaves in late January. Ed.) and is also a fast-growing plant. This may explain the alternative name of quickthorn.

As it forms a dense, thorny mass of branches, it is often used for hedging, particularly where livestock has to be contained.

Besides its agricultural value as hedging, common hawthorn can support more than 300 insects. It is a food plant for caterpillars of numerous moths. Its flowers are eaten by dormice and provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The haws (berries) are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by migrating birds, such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals.

Furthermore, the dense, thorny foliage makes fantastic nesting shelter for many bird species of bird.

Green Man ceiling boss, Rochester Cathedral

Folklore and symbolism

Hawthorn is a pagan symbol of fertility and has associations with May Day stretching back beyond written history. It was the forerunner of the Maypole and its leaves and flowers provided the source of May Day garlands as well as appearing in the wreath of the Green Man.

In medieval times hawthorn was never brought indoors as it was generally believed that bringing its blossom indoors would result in illness and even death. In those times it was also commonly believed that hawthorn blossom smelled like the plague. In more recent times scientists have discovered the chemical trimethylamine (which smells like ammonia or rotting flesh. Ed.) in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in rotting animal fish, hence the tree’s traditional linking with illness and death.

In spite of the beliefs and symbolism outlined above, the young hawthorn leaves, flower buds and young flowers are all edible. The leaves are often described as having the flavour of bread and cheese. They can be added to green salads and grated root salads. The developing flower buds are particularly good. The haws can be eaten raw (beware a stomach upset. Ed.), but are most commonly used to make jellies and wines.

A final personal note

In my own life, the blossoming of the hawthorn always reminds me that spring is giving way to early summer.

In particular, it reminds of when I was 8 years old and my mother took my 2 younger siblings and me by train all the way from Stafford to Harling Road in Norfolk – the nearest station to my grandmother’s home. The journey took the best part of a day (showing how difficult it was to travel cross-country in England, even in pre-Beeching times. Ed.). The fields on either side of the railway lines on which we travelled were thick with hawthorn blossoming pink and white.

Whenever I see hawthorn in bloom these days, I’m immediately reminded of that one train journey, even though it’s now almost 6 decades in the past.

Update: After writing this post, I asked both my siblings if they remembered that journey and if so, what they recalled. My sister replied that she recollected the journey as being interminable and her chief memory was all the trackside telegraph poles, whilst my brother – the youngest of us – responded with a question as to whether that was the railway trip during which he was sick. He obviously had other matters than lineside shrubbery on his mind. 😀

Fast food litter petition

in 10 years of campaigning for less litter and fly-tipping in east Bristol’s Lawrence Hill and Easton wards, one constant factor has been litter generated by takeaways, particularly the major franchises like Burger King, KFC and the like.

A petition has now been started on change.org to help tackle part of the problem, namely littering by their motorised customers, some of whom seem to have no compunction at just pitching the packaging their meal came in out of the vehicle window once their appetites have been sated.

Fast food litter

Fast food litter. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The back streets of Easton and Lawrence Hill are a good mile of so from the nearest McDonalds, Burger King or KFC, but that does not stop litter from those outlets blighting the neighbourhood.

The relevant petition is entitled “Fast food restaurants to print vehicle reg on takeaway packaging to discourage littering” and reads as follows:

The recent break in fast food companies business has given us time to be able to start to clean up the streets once littered with empty McDonald’s bags, KFC boxes and other takeaway restaurant litter.
KFC has been back open merely a couple of days and already pictures of carelessly discarded boxes are circulating on the internet. Let’s not slip back to where we were in terms of litter before the Covid lockdown. Let’s make compulsory that all drive through restaurants, who sell takeaway food, have to print the purchasers vehicle registration onto their bags or boxes. This will make it much easier to trace the litter back to the purchaser and result in a fine or preferably litter picking duties. I am proposing the idea of 3-4 stickers around the size of the bottom of the restaurants cup, printed with date/time and car registration, placed onto the bottom of the bags, cups and boxes to make it difficult for repeat litterers to remove their details without spilling the remaining contents into their cars/vans. The restaurants CCTV will back up this evidence with pictures of the driver and vehicle to provide solid evidence that they were the purchaser of said litter. The fine or community hours need to be big enough to cover costs of enforcement officers investigation times, resulting in nobody “slipping the net”.
If we can reach 100,000 signatures I can show clear public interest and go straight to the Secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and demand change. As this could result in a fine for the offenders this will make it much more appealing to the government to pass as law and thus resulting in a cleaner environment for everyone to enjoy.
Please help your local and national environment by merely signing this petition and sharing on social media platforms and as many large groups as you can, making a small but very needed step in the right direction.
Thank you good citizens.

Sign the petition.

If the petition is successful, that just leaves how to resolve the problem of those on foot who litter after eating their takeaways whilst walking home… 🙁

Iceland reviews bilingual signage policy in Welsh stores

Iceland logoFollowing hot on the heels of the sacking of its Director of Corporate Affairs for insulting the Welsh (posts passim), comes news that frozen food giant Iceland is reviewing approach’ to bilingual signage in its Welsh stores.

The company had previously been criticised for its lack of provision of Welsh and English signage in stores, even attracting protests, such as one in Rhyl in 2018 reported by The Grocer.

At that time, Iceland was not exactly amenable to bilingual signage in its Welsh stores and even went so far as to issue a statement asserting its monoglot stance: “We do not currently provide signage in any language other than English in any of our stores in any part of the UK or Ireland.

However, the company, which is based in Glannau Dyfrdwy (English: Deeside), had now announced this is changing, stating:

“We are currently reviewing our approach to providing Welsh signage in stores across Wales and updating this wherever possible. All new stores and those which are refitted have Welsh signage installed as standard, and this is also in place across all of our The Food Warehouse stores across Wales.”

The move has received support from Aled Roberts, the Welsh Language Commissioner, who has issued the following statement:

Research conducted by The Welsh Language Commissioner shows that customers in Wales want to see, hear and use the Welsh language in supermarkets in Wales. We have worked with a number of large supermarkets to develop their Welsh language services, supermarkets such as Coop and Lidl have responded brilliantly to develop a bilingual service. We would like to applaud their approach in working with us. We have contacted Iceland to inspire them to use Welsh, and encourage them to use bilingual signs, and we hope that they will respond to our request.

Gibberish? You’re fired!

Iceland logo

Keith Hann, director of corporate affairs for frozen food retailer Iceland has been dismissed with immediate effect after he was found to have made disparaging remarks about both the Welsh language and Wales itself.

The supermarket, which has its corporate headquarters on Deeside (Welsh: Glannau Dyfrdwy) in North Wales, was forced to apologise on Wednesday after reports emerged of Hann describing Welsh as “gibberish

It also stated that Hann’s remarks did not reflect the company’s views and added it was a proud Welsh company.

Many Welsh customers contacted Iceland on Twitter stating they would be boycotting the company’s stores as a result of Hann’s crass insensitivity.

In addition to calling Welsh gibberish, Hann wrote on his blog that the Welsh language sounded “like someone with bad catarrh clearing his throat”.

Furthermore, in a tweet which has since been deleted, Hann wrote that the “inhabitants of the UK’s Celtic fringe loathe all visitors“.

Read the full story in the Daily Post.

Currywurst reaches 70

Although I graduated over 4 decades ago, I still look back with fondness on the days of my modern languages degree.

One of the absolute requirements for the award of the degree was a compulsory period of residence in countries where the languages being studied were used.

In my instance this involved 5 months’ residency in both Perpignan (France) and Saarbrücken (Germany).

While in Germany, I became acquainted with what would now be called German street food, including the currywurst.

Currywurst

Currywurst typically consists of a bratwurst cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, a sauce based on spiced ketchup or tomato paste, itself topped with curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup seasoned with curry and other spices.

It’s often served with chips.

The currywurst reaches the grand of age of 70 this year.

Here’s its history in brief.

Herta Heuwer had been running a snack stall in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district since summer 1949. There wasn’t much happening on 4th September, so she had time to experiment. She mixed freshly chopped paprika, paprika powder, tomato purée and spices together. The she poured the whole lot over a fried, chopped sausage. The currywurst had been invented.

Herta Heuwer subsequently gave her business the address of “The world’s 1st currywurst cookshop” and had the word trade mark “Chillup” (a contraction of chilli and ketchup) registered for her sauce.

You can’t eat a proper original currywurst any more, because Herta Heuwer took the recipe to the grave with her in 1999. In 2003 a memorial plaque was put up at the former site of her snack bar. According to the German Currywurst Museum in Berlin over 800 million currywurst are consumed every year in Germany.

To mark this culinary anniversary the Berlin State Mint has issued a commemorative coin.

Currywurst coin front

This commemorative coin is the sixth of a series of anniversary issues which the city mint started in 2004 and is limited to a production run of 2,500.

The ultimate cheese toastie?

Earlier this week, Bristol City Council’s licensing committee voted to ban the sale of toasted cheese sandwiches in a north Bristol park due to concerns about anti-social behaviour (posts passim).

Whilst doing background research for that post, your correspondent discovered what must count as the world’s ultimate cheese toastie, particularly if the main metrological criterion for the snack’s assessment is its cholesterol content.

Enjoy! 😀

Cheese toastie shocker

Yesterday’s online version of the Bristol Post (now renamed Bristol Live. Ed.) carried a shocking item about a hitherto unknown catalyst for violence: the toasted cheese sandwich.

According to the Post, this humble snack may not be served at a proposed catering concession in Monk’s Park in Bristol’s Southmead district “amid fears a proposed hot food van could attract booze-fuelled anti-social behaviour and motorbike gangs“.

The Post continues:

Councillors have agreed to grant a provisional licence for cold food, such as ice cream, and tea and coffee in Monk’s Park, Biddestone Road.

But the vendor would be barred from selling hot snacks following dozens of objections from residents, a ward councillor and the headteacher of a nearby secondary school.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by tomato soup.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by not quite so provocative tomato soup. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

However, the fear of violent behaviour was not the only concern for banning hot food: councillors on the city council’s public safety and protection committee also feared children from the next-door school would be tempted to skip lessons due to the lure of grilled fermented curd.

Following the committee’s decision the concession will now be put out to tender.

However, the story does not end there. When your correspondent posted about the article on Twitter, one person to respond was local artist Dru Marland, whose response about fermented curd addiction was hilarious.

XDru's tweet reads they start 'em on Dairylea slices, and before you know it they're mugging pensioners for their next fix of Stinking Bishop

For a more complete understanding of the violence-inducing properties of cheese, I should have asked the committee about their opinions of more exotic varieties of fermented curd, such as Roquefort or Graviera, but pressure of time dictated otherwise. 🙂

Update: Not forty-eight hours after Bristol was opened to national and international ridicule over this affair, Bristol Live reports that residents of Bristol’s Cotham district have branded a hot food catering van an “appalling idea“. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

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