I was reading Coco's post and waxing nostalgic about those little mini doughnuts they made at kiwi school fairs and pretty much any public gathering.

In Germany, you can get cold donuts from bakeries (glazed or cinnamon donuts), but top consumption goes to the Berliner
(known as jelly donut in the States, though I'm having a serious memory block over what we call them in NZ. I think they are known as another animal to the ring-shaped and dusted variety, right?)
In Germany when it comes to bakeries the Berliner rules the roost. Witness the huge glass walled stacks of them at Merzenich chain bakeries for ambling shoppers and children of shoppers. Rather gothically, their jelly filling is injected with a large syringe post cooking.

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But when cruising Christmas markets and malls or supermarkets, for your hot fried and/or doughy treat, you will have much more luck finding either waffles or (mostly at Christmas time) the delicious 'reibekuchen'.

A typical scene at the entrance of Kaiser's supermarkets:

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The waffles are of course very good, especially when accompanied with a thick cherry compote like the ones at local theme park Fantasialand. (The waffles are pretty much the highlight of Fantasialand by the way, though supposedly Michael Jackson is a big fan of their roller coasters. But the Chinese acrobats in the Chinatown section performing to high speed euro pop in faded neon leotards? How hokey)

Getting back to the important stuff (i.e. fried treats), Reibekuchen - grated potato pancakes served scalding hot with apple mousse - are damn good.

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leads to this:

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and it all ends in this:

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Super on a freezing night with a cup of Glühwein.

Here is a recipe for banana-lemon waffles from a woman living in Berlin

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Aw, rats!

Yes and at the risk of stating the obvious, how awesome does this 'Ratatouille' movie seem? I can't wait to see it. It will be the best thing since 'Ants'.

[from trailer]
Remy: What is that?
Remy's Brother Emile: [Looks at the odd thing he is eating]
Remy's Brother: I don't really know.
Remy: You don't know, and you're eating it.
Emile: You know, if you can sort of muscle your way past the gag reflex, all kinds of food possibilities open up.
Remy: [to the screen] This is what I'm talking about.

From the subheading it seems Mr. Bird may have read the Time magazine article about restaurants being the new sweatshops.

Not only does the main character's voice remind me of David Schwimmer (whose brilliance cannot be denied), one of my favourite actresses Janeane Garafalo is in the movie and she says it is her favourite movie she's ever done. Quelle horreur!
Here is a description of her character:
"After many years in a male-dominated profession, Colette is a tough cookie. A talented and ambitious chef, she doesn't appreciate having to look after Linguini but is there a soft center under that hard exterior?"

Can't get enough of those cheesy puns! Cheesy! Get it??

Peter O'Toole is also in the film as the voice of 'Antono Ego': the ultimate food critic and feared by everyone in the world of cuisine. He is known as 'The Grim Eater'.

Then there is Auguste Gusteau, a world-famous chef who mysteriously died after his highly-regarded restaurant was downgraded from five stars to four by Anton Ego.

You can watch this:

You could also watch
this video review by A.O.Scott.
He calls it the best work of populist culture he's seen in a long time or something like that.

By the way, the movie is set in Paris. I have some Paris food blogging on the way for y'all.

Pork Roll

All this talk of bacon and chocolate and liver cheese made me remember the Ween album, chocolate and cheese...I don't know if they are the most prolific band when it comes to songs about food but they have a fair number including

- Candi
- Don't Shit Where You Eat
- Who Moved the Cheese

and this...Pork Roll Egg and Cheese

Pork Candy

Crisp, buttery, compulsively irresistible bacon and milk chocolate combination has long been a favorite of mine. I started playing with this combination at the tender age of six while eating chocolate chip pancakes drenched in maple syrup. Beside my chocolate-laden cakes laid three strips of fried bacon, just barely touching a sweet pool of maple syrup. Just a bite of the bacon was too salty and yearned for the sweet kiss of chocolate syrup. In retrospect, perhaps this was a turning point, for on that plate something magical happened: the beginnings of a combination so ethereal and delicious that it would haunt my thoughts until I found the medium to express it--chocolate.

Just when I thought that I was the only person thinking about covering crispy bacon in couverture chocolate, pretentious candy purveyors Vosges have apparently been thinking about it since their copywriter's childhood.

What's more is that they're pimping it on their website for US$7 a bar.

Baguette Roulette

I just made a banh mi from the left over chicken I had in the fridge from noodles the other night...was super yummy

But I forgot to take a photo for y'all to see....so I stole this one off google images


I had my first ever banh mi when I lived in Melbourne, we would hop on a tram down to Victoria St to go here Pho Dzung Tan (aka Chicken and Cow on account of the chicken and cow pictures they have on the front window), afterwards we would wander down Victoria and pick up asian ingredients at the different stores down there are buy a banh mi at one of the Vietnamese bakeries to take home as a snack for later.

The banh mi we had were always pork....and included an array of pork products, first the bagguette was smothered in butter then pork pate, then roast pork and sliced pork sausage. Then they add crunchy pickled veges, scatter through bullet chilis and sprigs of fresh corriander. Lastly it is seasoned with maggi soy sauce (must be maggi), fish sauce and white pepper.
The bullet chilis in the bun add an element of excitement...it's like russian roulette with a baguette....also on account of the fact that some people have been known to have gotten food poisoning from them....so double the roulette factor.

My version is much more simple

sliced cold chicken, preferably chicken that has been cooked asian style or with asian flavours (poached in water flavoured with ginger, fish sauce, garlic cloves, white whole pepper corns, corriander roots, light soy)
fresh baguette,
crunchy carrots and cucumber marinated in rice vinegar, fish sauce, chili, lime and garlic
sliced bullet chilis
sprigs of corriander
mayo (kewpie will do just fine)
maggi soy sauce
fish sauce
ground white pepper

Take baguette smother with mayonnaise, put in chicken and veges, add sliced bullet chilis and whole sprigs of corriander and then season with maggie soy sauce, fish sauce and white pepper

Feel self satisfied

Remember to Tip Your Waiter

We almost decided to quit Thailand and move back to Australia last month, but then Hock found out what a Head Chef can expect to get paid in Australia. It hasn't changed much since we left and with the cost of living high and housing affordability at an all time low, we decided to stay in Asia and keep on saving our pennies.

Although to some degree salary levels for chefs in Australia are low because profits are spread more equally in the kitchen between all workers, unlike in Thailand where bigger pay disparities exist, that doesn't mean that Australian workers are necessarily any better off than their Thai counterparts, relatively speaking. The cost of living in Thailand is comparatively low compared with Australia. However on a relative standard all workers in hospitality generally get paid shit. This is because people don't want to spend a lot of money on food.

So far the issue of ethical consumerism has so far only arisen in the retail supermarket arena where big supermarkets operate on economies of scale, selling large volumes at an average of 1% profit margin and thereby squeezing all those further down the supply chain to deliver you everyday savings....the magnanimous concerns of ethical consumerism are only now turning thier attention to those poor bastards (like secret here) who spend night after night serving rude diners and "dying a little inside".

So this month Time asks Are Restaurants the New Sweatshops?"

"Eating out has become as American as apple pie, but for those manning the kitchen, restaurant work is anything but an American dream. Dishwashers, waiters and delivery people are increasingly served up unfair pay, discrimination and dangerous working conditions."

Darwinism vs. Milkshakes

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Backing up Maytel's recent post on the topic that we are (as societies) what we eat, so an article by Nicholas Wade in today's NY Times presents findings by scientists that we have also genetically evolved, partly according to what our ancestors have eaten.

"A category of genes under selective pressure covers those involved in metabolism, suggesting that people were responding to changes in diet, perhaps associated with the switch from hunting and gathering to agriculture."

"People have continued to evolve since leaving the ancestral homeland in northeastern Africa some 50,000 years ago, both through the random process known as genetic drift and through natural selection. The genome bears many fingerprints in places where natural selection has recently remolded the human clay, researchers have found, as people in the various continents adapted to new diseases, climates, diets and, perhaps, behavioral demands."

It seems that a historical bovine influence has given an unfair advantage to Northern Europeans and East Africans in the field of lime milkshakes.

"A notable instance of recent natural selection is the emergence of lactose tolerance — the ability to digest lactose in adulthood — among the cattle-herding people of northern Europe some 5,000 years ago. Lactase, the enzyme that digests the principal sugar of milk, is usually switched off after weaning. But because of the great nutritional benefit for cattle herders of being able to digest lactose in adulthood, a genetic change that keeps the lactase gene switched on spread through the population.

Lactose tolerance is not confined to Europeans. Last year, Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Maryland and colleagues tested 43 ethnic groups in East Africa and found three separate mutations, all different from the European one, that keep the lactase gene switched on in adulthood. One of the mutations, found in peoples of Kenya and Tanzania, may have arisen as recently as 3,000 years ago.

That lactose tolerance has evolved independently four times is an instance of convergent evolution. Natural selection has used the different mutations available in European and East African populations to make each develop lactose tolerance. In Africa, those who carried the mutation were able to leave 10 times more progeny, creating a strong selective advantage."

So there you have it. Crusts may not make your hair curly but milk & cookies might have a startling effect on your procreative powers. Well, at least after 7000 years or so.

C.R.E.A.M. get the Money:
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However, a Harvard School of Public Health study reported in May that eating low fat yoghurt may actually decrease one's likelihood of conception.

"Recent research has shown that women who eat low-fat dairy products when trying to conceive may be dramatically cutting their chances of pregnancy. Drinking a pint of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk or eating two pots of yoghurt a day almost doubles the risk of anovulatory infertility, in which women stop ovulating."

Horror! And what's more, skim milk can give you zits, also decreasing your ability to procreate I'd say.

"Processing milk to make low-fat versions may raise levels of the hormones, making the situation worse.
The US researchers looked at the teenage diet of more than 47,000 women and then compared dairy product intake with cases of acne. Worst off were those who regularly drank skimmed milk, with two half-pint glasses a day raising the risk of the condition by 44 per cent. Those who drank a pint of whole milk a day were 12 per cent more likely to develop acne, while semi-skimmed milk increased the risk by 16 per cent. Cream and cottage cheeses also raised the risk of the condition, however, chips, chocolate and pizza did not."

Studies are still inconclusive on donuts, frikandel speziaal, pineapple fritters, Kyupi mayo and rhubarb cheesecake.
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Man I always bum out that I'm the one who brings the teenage mutant ninja turtle element into this food-radical community and lower the tone. But daaamn. Today I lost all control and ate THREE donuts from my 'scum-bag on the corner open til 3am cos its thats how we roll' fish n chip shop. I felt so ghetto but have you ever appraised these guys? Or any fish n chip provided 'dessert' menu? My donuts were fried almost dark brown, slathered in cinnamon sugar and had me hooked for two reasons. Crunchy as a mf on the outside. Soft on the inside. Bonus ghetto points if you can see half the fluffy inside is secretly infiltrated by the grease. I hate Dunkin Donuts cos it has too many Homer Simpson theatrics - I love these guys. This is dedicated to my 'pineapple fritter' skulling homies everywhere.

Next week: why I love 2 for Tuesday Taco's. $5 dude!

Geek's Corner - Food and Humanity

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are"

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825
French gourmet & lawyer (1755 - 1826)

A while ago, when I was writing my thesis proposal (so a very long time ago) I read a great book called "The Rice Economies" by a woman called Francesca Bray. It explained that many people have failed to understand Asian agriculture and therefore culture because they try to understand it and continue to compare it with western agriculture. The book explains the fundamental properties of the rice plant, how as a plant the highest yields are traditionally achieved by labour intensification as opposed to capital extensification like wheat. Think of the traditional image of small bunded rice paddies with peasants hunched over in the sun versus enourmous wheat fields with combine harvesters rolling off into the horizon. This is what she means. Rice also produces more tonnes per hectare of food than wheat thereby supporting larger populations, which in turn can add to labour intensification. Rice also typically, not always, requires complex large-scale water management systems if one is to get the most out of the crop. While disputed, Karl Wittfogel claimed in his book Oriental Depotism, that this requirement led many Asian societies to develop what he termed hydraulic civilisations based on the control of water through authoritarian managerial regimes.

Anyway, the point is when you study food systems you usually arrive not too long into at culture systems.....so I thought the geeks among you may enjoy reading this small thesis entitled "Human societies are defined by their food". The final sections present, what I consider to be some pretty humdrum, standard lefty comments at the end, but the initial sections are useful.

"All evolution is ultimately geared towards genetic reproduction, but to achieve that end, evolution works on two broad goals: the reproduction of life, and the maintenance of life (at least until reproduction has been achieved). These can be reduced with little violence to the truth to the essential drives for food, and sex. Most of the necessities humans require could be served by any social group. Any mixing of males and females will invariably lead to sexual relationships and the successful rearing of children. Protection from the elements is gained easily through any number of methods. That leaves food as the factor which society must spend most of its effort procuring. Not only is food a requirement which is needed on a much more regular basis than sex or protection from the elements, it is also a much riskier prospect than the others. Minimally, only a single sexual liason may result in offspring, and a single shelter can protect several individuals from the elements for an extended period of time--but most people must eat several times a day. In any social group with both males and females, sexual relationships will form, and protection from the elements can be easily attained in any environment--but famines often afflict whole bioregions for lengthy periods of time, and hunger and starvation can even become endemic to an entire population. Any form of society would suffice for our other basic needs. Culture develops primarily as a means of procuring food, and everything in a given culture serves that end."

Sugar Sanctions in Iran

After a months research, I have come to the opinion that if the US and the UN want to really tighten the screws on Iran they should look at sugar sanctions. In a country where alcohol and promiscuity is outlawed people overindulge in what they can - sugar. Iranians love sweet stuff, given that it is hot here and there is a lot of desert they particularly like cold sweet stuff. Rose water is the key ingredient to much of the desserts here, you can drink it, soak cake/biscuits in it and pretty much add it to anything with sugar.

Iranians also like to eat carrots and cucumbers as fruits. Two curious combinations of this is the very popular carrot juice with rose water (or vanilla) ice cream, or thin flat bread (lavash) with carrot jam and cream. In one small take away joint, one man was so intent on imbibing his carrot and ice cream juice as quickly as possible that he managed to spill much of it on his pants and had to leave immediately.

A more classic example of Iranian sweets is plain cake soaked in sugar and rose water syrup so that the cake is moist, syrupy and delicious. Another is the nice take on neopolitan icecream with a 3 flavoured ice cream (made from rice flour) slice with chocolate, vanilla and banana, a hint of rose water throughout and pistachios.

There are of course a range of regional specialities, in Shiraz we ate paludeh which is a vanilla ice cream made from rice flour (so that it is a little sticky) with grated fruit soaked in rose water and a lemon syrup sauce.

In Esfahan it is obligatory to try "gazd" which is lovely, soft (the heat helps) pistachio nougat (although Iranians are very disdainful of hot gazd apparently one should put it in the freezer first).

The staple and ever present quick fix available to the masses is the soft serve. Generally sold in dual vanilla/chocolate or rose flavour, it is consumed almost daily. We have observed though, that the height of the standard soft serve varies by city. Tehran has the stubbiest, most ungenerous soft serves in the country. Esfahan on the other hand has the tallest soft serves I have ever seen - apologies for no photo evidence - but we are talking 15 cm high of ice cream.

Click here to read about imitation beer in Iran

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Generally speaking I'm not a big pot fan. I used to be. In fact I smoked so much pot as a youngster growing up in NZ that I liken myself to Obelix from the Asterix cartoons, I fell in the pot when I was young and have had enough to last me a life time....in case you're wondering many NZ kids are the same....(shock horror, no your teenagers are not still tired at 3 pm in the afternoon from playing playstation). Anyways, the first time I had pot again was years later in Cambodia. The first time was unintentional. We ordered a pizza from a place called Happy Pizza. I had no idea until 3am that morning, when I still couldn't get to sleep, let alone stop talking. I put 2 and 2 together and figured it was the strange green herb sprinkled on our "margarita"

I smoked pot a couple more times in Cambodia during my stay. Unlike pot in most other places in the world where it has been hydroponically grown and manipulated to basically knock your head off, Khmer pot is still natural, smooth and above all relaxing.....

So I was unsurprised to hear the other day when Hock told me that many women in Cambodia will traditionally make a chicken soup with gunja when it is that time of the month. Apparently, in Cambodia men drink rice wine, the women smoke pot.

Recipe for Khmer Gunja Soup

- make chicken soup
- spinkle with gunja
- have a lie down


Whoever said that Fusion cooking was dead obviously forgot to tell the chefs of Bangkok

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hmmm chicken larb pizza and sauteed fried rice with strawberries....

Tell me what is your worst fusion horror story?

Chicken and cranberry and camembert pizza always takes the prize for me...

Gentrified Food

or You Can't Have Your Authenticity and Eat It Too

Of course in Singapore we did manage to sniff out a couple of bad meals in the way that only a western tourist couple can, in a city 99% full of yummy food, I believe that most western tourists have a special propensity to encounter the 1% that's bad and it doesn't take much to lure us in. All you need is a few promises of authenticity and a bit of swanky branding, try a logo like the one below

glutton's bay.jpg

WikiTravel says.....

"Gluttons Bay, Esplanade Mall #01-15, ☎ +65-63367025. Daily 6 PM-3 AM. Run by famous foodies Makansutra, this outdoor eatery puts together 12 of Singapore's most famous hawkers. Breezy location by the river, great views of the city and good location make this a winner. $5-10."

So we got all excited and headed down there, only to be served rotting prawns, yes rotting...being kiwis we discussed for at least 5 minutes about whether to return them, we did. We were served the dish again this time with fresh prawns. But by then we were far beyond any interest in completing our meal that was over priced (5 - 10 my ass) and not at all fresh.....

And here in lies the lesson. You cannot take the best hawkers in Singapore, give them a charming river side location, gentrified stall carts and logos and expect the food to stay the same, and to expect the hawkers to remain the best in Singapore. What makes hawkers stands excellent and unique is their connection to locals and place. It is the locals that make it good and keep it good, they are the ones that keep coming back, that keep the ingredients fresh, keep the hawker motivated and they are the ones that can elevate some hawkers to fame status. If you remove the hawker from their place and their customers all you get is a bunch of old rotting prawns.

What makes good food is not just the cook or the chef. It is the location, and the community. Good food is as much a product of place as it is the skills of a careful and conscientious chef. That's why airline and mall food will always suck....they are non-place spaces a bit like Glutton's Bay.

burgers & salad: milking it big time!


When is a good burger not a burger?
The recipe I'm gonna share is not really a burger - it's a slightly different animal, better defined as a Japanese-style burger or really good homemade German frikadelle (meatball) perhaps. It is not grilled - but what it lacks in smokey, BBQ vibe it makes up for in juiciness, texture and general meat perfection.

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I was reading an article by Matt Lee and Ted Lee in the New York Times (whence the above image came), and after a few drearily fancy descriptions of meatballs made with foie gras or veal and stuffed with ricotta (etc), they wrote about a key burger/meatball truth which I'd inadvertently discovered when experimenting with Japanese-style burgers. It seems to be the key to a dream burger. Quite simply, the wetter the better. This may not be anything new to you chef types, but to me it's like a breakthrough: milky meatballs!

"On the vital issue of meatball texture, all the chefs we interviewed had good tips and pointers, most of which spoke to the same issue: water. For Mr. Campanaro, the key is simple. “Just like in Italian sausage, the filling is very wet when it goes into the casing,” he said. “So when it cooks, it’s juicy. That liquid that comes out when you cut it? That’s pork stock!”"

Another chef interviewed, Mr Psilakis, was fond of the same trick I had discovered in my trusty Orange Page japanese food periodical: using breadcrumbs soaked in milk. Except that in his recipe he squeezes out the excess milk, whilst the Orange Page recipe just dumps the milk in with the mince.

Orange Page took it another wet step further: not only do you include milk but after sealing the big, fat burger balls in the pan you steam them at a low heat for 10 minutes, upping the moisture value and creating an incredible burger! (or however you want to call it).

So I shall now share this recipe with you, dear reader, along with a similarly genius milk-based salad dressing which is SO awesome I urge you to try it today. Milk is the new maldon sea salt.

PS: For the vegetarians, here is a link to a very easy vege burger
demo by the New York Times popular food writer 'The Minimalist' - and here is his good tofu burger recipe

(I am curious to read The Minimalist's meat-based burger piece. It's not free to view anymore - only available to purchase... how elitist...but nevermind... I am sure the following recipe easily matches or outdoes his recipe. Yes I am that confident.)

Note: this Japanese-style burger has a very simple yet perfect flavour. That's sort of the point. If you require a more macho burger try Jamie Oliver's milk-free roasted Botham Burger
which can also be successfully grilled if formed in smaller patties.

(serves two)

Beef mince - 300-400g
1/2 an onion diced finely
1 egg
a slice of bread (white or brown)
2-4 generous tablespoons of milk
Salt & pepper

Crumble, finely chop or pulse the bread so that you have 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. How fine they are is not too important. (I generally just roughly chop some medium-coarse brown bread but most Japanese cooks use fine white panko crumbs).
Cover the breadcrumbs with milk (I don't measure but I think I use a fair bit more than 2 tbsp - really just enough milk so all breadcrumbs are soggy and soaking but not swimming in milk. As we have heard, 'the wetter the better').

Mix all the above ingredients (with about 1/2 tsp salt and as much ground pepper as you like) in a bowl, gently crumbling the mince and blending into a mush so that the white fatty flecks in the mince largely disappear and it is a mostly-uniform pinkish shade.

Make two large patties by dividing the mixture and palming each mass back and forth gently between your hands a few times. If you need to redistribute some meat, glue it onto the other ball as gently as possible. The aim is not to compact the meat too much.

Heat 1 tbsp oil at medium heat and cook the patties for about 1 minute on one side. When superficially browned, flip them over, reduce the heat to low, cover with a well fitting lid and steam the burgers for 10-12 minutes. When you are satisfied the burgers are done (most Japanese cooks wouldn't want them to be pink in the middle) and the juices don't run pink when a fork or chopstick is inserted, remove lid, turn the heat up to high and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute.

Serve topped with one of the following:

- KIMCHEESE: finely chop 40 g white kimchi and mix with 30 g grated cheese and 2 tsp sake. Add a-top the burgers before the final one minute of cooking with lid ON.

- ONE SCRAMBLED EGG AND KETCHUP: just what it says, artfully squiggling the ketchup. Egg should be plain egg, no milk added.

- CLASSIC STYLE: make a glaze using 2 tbsp ketchup and chinese-style sauce (or try Korean BBQ sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of powdered vege stock). A mostarda glaze could also be good! Or some kind of premade beef demiglace.

- MILD FRESH SALSA: very finely chop a de-seeded tomato, a quarter cucumber, and a quarter red onion. To let the meat flavour shine you might like to tone down the onion by salting it and letting it sit for a minute or two, and then rinse. Mix together with 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar and generous salt & pepper. This salsa is also improved with some capers and/or chopped anchovy, but again this may overwhelm the burger... try to think in the Japanese way where the dish shouldn't be overwhelmed by crazy sauces. Maybe it's better to just have some nice crunchy cornichon pickles on the side!

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Serve with the following kick ass salad (adapted from the recipe book '15分らくうまおかず', or 'easy main dishes to go with rice prepared within 15 minutes'). Original recipe asks for watercress which would be great (watercress rules) but I replaced with rocket and it was also excellent with the soy-ish lime-spiked light creamy dressing.
Who knew a dressing without pepper could be so beguiling?

(serves 2 people) (307 kcal per person)

2 eggs boiled 6-7 minutes, peeled and chopped in large non-uniform chunks.
1 avocado peeled and chopped in chunks (original recipe asks for 2cm cubes but that sounds too fussy)
4 handfuls of rocket/rucola/arugula or watercress
Lime or lemon
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp japanese kyupi mayo

Arrange the greens in 2 bowls and scatter the avocado over top. Squeeze lime or lemon juice generously over the avocado pieces.

Mix together the mayo, milk and soy (we use a handheld milk frothing device to get it blended well and ever-so-slightly foamy, but a fork should be fine!).
Scatter the egg pieces over the salad and pour the milky soy mayo dressing over top of everything.

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Typical Japanese-style hamburger presentations:

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Burger in a box?

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spew-like kinoko sauce (that's kiNOko as in mushroom):

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from one extreme:

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to the next:

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this looks delicious to me - does that make me a pervert?

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This Mosburger hybrid also looks damn good:

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Horror burger:

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Rolling of the cheeses

The Spanish enjoy "The Running of the Bulls"

The British enjoy the rolling of the cheese

Double Gloucester that is.

The Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake set to Bryan Ferry A Hard Rain’s A-gonna Fall

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Why throw yourself down a stupidly steep hill? To win the cheese of course


The current title holder


And of course the "ladies" winner New Zealander Jemima Bullock

What other country would have an annual cheese rolling contest?

Perpetual anglophiles New Zealand of course....cuppa tea anyone?


Not quite Bryan Ferry

Don't they look like they are having fun, how twee.

Hungry Planet


For those of you that don't read boing boing

Here is a link that they recommend checking out, follow it to a most excellent slide show of photos taken by Peter Menzel. Collaborating with Faith D'Aluisio to which they wrote Hungry Planet: What the world eats looks like a good read.

Food and the Planet - Yes, BIO IS BETTER

The interview with Deborah Koons Garcia, writer and director of The Future of Food is a uesful starter for understanding some of the monumental issues and decisions been made about our food system, often without most people's knowledge of participation. Although it centres on the USA, with globalised food, the buck obviously doesn't stop there. It's worth knowing if you don't already. Some of the topics covered include political control of companies over food chains and regulation systems, the problem of cross-polination and gene mutations, possible health impacts, environmental impacts, and so on

And, yes some farmers are now being sued for patent infringement for the fact that genes have accidently (or not so accidently) cross-polinated with plants on their fields....not mentioned is the fact that one way companies have tried to avoid cross-polination is through incorporating the terminator gene in plants so they cannot reproduce. However, there is no evidence to say the terminator gene won't cross polinate with other plants rendering parts of the natural environment sterile....if you care about food, you should care about this

Anyway, she introduces a novel idea for bringing down organic food costs - buy raw ingredients and cook...."cooking is the new shopping"....as a friend of mine says "consumerism is so last century", I'm just waiting to see a papparzzi picture of Paris Hilton making jam.

Not that there is uniformity within the bio/organic movement, there is still healthy debate

This debate between Michael Pollen, writer of Omnivore's Dialemma and John Mackey CEO of Wholefoods illustrates some of the issues still to be addressed over what type of bio/ organic system exactly is better

Lastly here is a non-GMO product list for your next trip to the supermarket

Unfortunately, Australia seems to be taking the US's lead (again).

"Australia's Chief Scientist, Brian Peacock, in a speech to a conference two weeks ago, called opponents of GM "unprincipled minorities … self-serving organic farmers and ill-informed environmental activists".

Advice from the Age for Australians and New Zealanders and other unprincipled minorities

Dried Pregnant Bugs?

"Ever squirm at those reality shows featuring innocent souls forced to snack down on plates of crunchy bugs? The sweet kids' favourite used to be tinted pink with the innocuous "beet red" colouring, but the recipe has been changed to contain "colour (120)". That 120 is cochineal, also known as carmine, and is derived from the dried bodies of pregnant scale insects (the yummy sounding Dactylopius coccus costa). What's even more misleading is that 120 is usually referred to as a "natural colour" - the logic being that insects are "natural". And, apparently, snack-a-licious".

Melbourne Age sums up how to avoid meat in the age of industrial food

More on the scale insect...hmmmmm, scale insect

Beyond Pho

Another good meal we had in Singapore was here. It's on Hok Lam St.

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They serve an excellent bowl of Teo Chew (Chaozho in Mandarin or Chiuchow in Cantonese) beef noodles.

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The noodles are somewhat similar to a bowl of pho bo but much much richer with a far more deep fragrant herbal broth, my guess is probably more cinnamon, more star anise and probably some shaoxing wine.

Teo Chew cuisine is renoun as a herbal almost medicinal version of Cantonese food. Other famous Teo Chew dishes include a herbal pork anise stew, a great steamed fish in herbal ginger broth with wolf berries and chinese prunes, and dishes such as what is known in Thailand as goong woosen, frangrant glass noodle and prawn claypot, goose feet noodles and fried oyster omelette. Teo Chew people hail from Northeast Guangdong, they are the original rice smugglers and triads (yes the original gangstas) of China and make up the majority of the Chinese diaspora of Southeast Asia, thus most of Southeast Asia now has regional variations of Teo Chew dishes, I'm thinking of Thailand's Khai Paloo and Singapore's Ba Ku Teh. Thailand also has a beef noodle dish that is similar to above said noodles, but it's sweeter and they put Thai basil in it.

My Thai/ Chinese side of the family are Teo Chew, that's how come I know this shit.

Anyway, if your interested in learning more wiki has some info although I'm not sure about the fruit carving comment, this is prevalent everywhere in asia, not specific to Teo Chew people

Bored butchers of Bangkok

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This one is for the tiny man.

I have been on the look out for yummy goodies to fill the chiller at home with, as we have the infamous T man (if you are not familiar with his work check out his latest installation here) coming to our city soon and there is much planning to be done.

Although the way the general dietary practices of most Bangkok Thais are going I think this might be considered an all ages snack by most living here.

I made this the other day and not only does it have a great name, it tastes great. If I was in NZ I would add sweet little pipis and cockles at the last minute. Or you could replace the fish with mussels, or throw in heaps of seafood to make a kind of mexican boullibase or make a casserole version with chicken...

Snapper Veracruz

- 2 snapper fillets large (serves around 3 - 4)
- juice of a lime
- tblspoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- can of tinned toms
- 200 gms green olives (pitted and sliced roughly)
- 2 tbsp capers
- 2 large pickled jalapenos sliced
- fist full of flat leaf parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregeno
- few sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- stick of cinamon
- 3 cloves
- 1 cup of fish or chicken stock

Marinade fish in lime juice and rub with a teaspoon of salt for about 1 hour.


sautee onions, garlic til soft then toms - cook for 15

add remaining ingredients except fish and simmer another 15

add fish and cover and simmer/ steam for 10 mins

serve with bread and potatos and tings

nB extra jalapenos can be added

Food & Music

Following on from DJ Han Baby's culinary brilliance, behold 'my mexican lunch' bought to you by The Brunettes front babe Heather Mansfield. Who wants to throw tv's out the hotel window when you could watch it while eating this - 5 stars to H-Bomb!
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Exotic Fruit - How'd Ya Like Them Mangos

In Singapore I recently had my first Indian mango...and what a revelation it was too.

Indian mangoes are squishy, sweet and delicately fragrant....they have a certain...perfume taste to them which makes them ten times a more exotic mango than your common all garden Southeast Asian mango, which are nice and mangoey but do not possess the same floral undertones as the Indian mango....overall I highly recommend Indian mangoes, they have lifted my enthusiasm for tropical fruits once again, just at the point when I thought there was little else to discover.

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Another favourite fruit sampled in Singapore was durian, although Phil describes it "like eating vanilla custard in a latrine". I tend to think that people that say this have not had a perfect durian in season. I agree that out of season they can taste a bit like this, but in season they are like a warm sweet avocado with what I can only describe as a certain nyum nyum -ieness.

The smell that most people complain of is imperceptible to me. I am, it appears durian proof. So I bought one on the street in Singapore. I was all excited until Hock reminded me that I could not take it back to the hotel, in a taxi or on the train. So I opted to eat it on the street.

As I stood there nibbling on large fleshy soft chunks of durian a group of Indian women wandered past and peered inside my polystyrene container and I overheard one proclaim just within earshot

"oh I didn't know that they could eat that"

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Rising Star

If you haven't acquainted yourself already with the prodigious talents of Cambodia's most famous food blogger and fast rising star food writer Phil (who also happens to be a Gut Feelings team member) then I suggest you do so now and begin with his recent review of Melbourne's only Khmer restaurant Bopha Devi

Phil writes

"In Cambodia, Princess Bopha Devi is best known for being the former King Sihanouk’s wayward daughter. Educated as a ballerina in France, the princess emulated the other princes by taking a succession of beautiful lovers but unlike the princes, this was much to the dismay of Sihanouk who once labelled her a “whore”. It makes for an interesting choice of name for a restaurant: Cambodians would more likely associate Bopha Devi with Sihanouk’s comments or her more recent political career as Minister for Culture. If the food had been better, I’d rant about the clash of feminism, modernity and tradition that the name embodies, and the difficulties of reconciling a modern education with the demands of Cambodian royal life. But it wasn’t.

Not only does Phil possess a highly evolved style of diction as displayed in his ever so eloquent equivication of a restaurant to one of dubious sexual mores, he can also single handedly increase the internet traffic on Gut Feelings tenfold in a day by a simple referral.

Ta Phil
Hock and I just arrived back from a four day eating excursion to Singapore.

I like Singapore. I never used to. Overall media sentiment and the general vibe on Singapore these days is that "it's changed, it's no longer boring and nerdy". Perhaps.... but I'm more inclined to think that I'm the one whose changed and Singapore is just as boring an nerdy as it ever was, however now I am just more content to eat a good plate of chicken and rice and go to bed early. The best of which in Singapore is located at Maxwell St food court

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The stall usually has a queue and we waited around 20 minutes for our plates of chicken and rice. It's good, simple fare and they serve it with a chili sauce and dark soy sauce, not with the salty ginger and spring onion sauce that I prefer.

Of course there are other things to eat at Maxwell street, including an excellent raw fish salad at the congee stand, deep fried silken tofu, also at the congee stand, endless variations of egg noddles, dim sum, fried oyster omelette and so on....

Maxwell St food court is the reason why we have stayed at the Scarlet Hotel twice now. The rooms may be small and dingey, there are no facilities and it is not a great hotel. But it is right in the centre of Chinatown and at any time of the day or night you can get up walk a few steps and put something yummy in your mouth...plus it is just around the corner from the trendy Ang Siang Hill that has bucket sized glasses of Hoegaarden on tap.

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