...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Category: Snacks (Page 2 of 13)

Spud Sunday: It’s Complicated

There’s a section in journalist and food critic Jay Rayner’s new book, A Greedy Man in a Hungry World, which discusses the notion of comparative advantage. This is where, he explains, by dint of labour costs, climatic or other considerations, certain countries can produce certain goods better and more cheaply than elsewhere – he points to iPhones made in China and, foodwise, among other things, to crops grown in the corn belt of the Midwestern United States.

It’s part of his assault on those who blindly assume that local-is-best when it comes to food (people whom he also suspects are the proud possessors of said iPhones); his attempt, as he puts it, to “kick ten tons of crap out of the local food movement.” His point? It’s not that locally produced food is suddenly off the shopping list – there will always be cases where it’s the best choice we can make, and not just for reasons of taste, but because it’s also about food security and supporting local economies – but that local doesn’t always equate to sustainable and that imported foods – and the large-scale agriculture that may produce them – aren’t necessarily bad.

Jay Rayner: Greedy Man in a Hungry World

Nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned hyperbole:
in addition to the bold subtitle, the back-of-book blurb asserts that this volume will do no less than
“…change the way we shop, cook and eat forever”
Or something like that anyway.

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Spud Sunday: A Potato By Any Other Name

I would hazard a guess – for those in Ireland and the UK at any rate – that there’s hardly a man, woman or child who has not, at some time, been touched by the life’s work of one John Clarke. Certainly, if you’ve ever savoured a bag of fat, golden, creamy-on-the-inside, vinegared-on-the-outside chip-shop chips, what you’ve eaten owes a certain debt to this unassuming man of Antrim.

To say that Mr. Clarke (1889-1980) was a potato breeder of note is somewhat of a understatement. Though he left school at the age of 12 and had no formal scientific or horticultural training, he was responsible for the development of 33 certified varieties of potato, most of which bear the prefix Ulster, and some of which were subsequently cross-bred to produce varieties very familiar to us: Maris Piper, long the potato of choice for the chipper, is a second generation (or F2) descendant of a John Clarke variety, Ulster Knight, and most of you will have eaten Maris Pipers, even if, at the time, their name was a mite less important than their role as a welcome source of soakage.

John Clarke, Potato Wizard

John Clarke, Potato Wizard by Maurice McHenry

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Spud Sunday: A Bar Too Far

Warning: You may feel a slight dizziness as I plunge from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of a single post. This is a normal reaction and mostly nothing to be concerned about.
Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi à la Madhur Jaffrey

Last week, you see, I was all about the heady heights of the Ballymaloe Lit Fest.

There was me and there was Madhur Jaffrey and the world was a-glow with possibilities. First stop, aloo gobi, next stop, who knows where.

This week, there is cheese and onion chocolate. A place to which I didn’t particularly want to go.

Tayto cheese and onion chocolate

Cheese and onion chocolate. Did it have to happen?

Yet here it is (or, at least, there it was in my local Centra), the union, in a single wrapper, of Tayto cheese & onion crisps and milk chocolate.

Now, the first thing to know is that, in Ireland, the combination of crisps and chocolate is, to use that most nondescript of descriptions, a thing. I have – and I know I am not alone in this – enjoyed meals of Tayto cheese & onion and Cadbury’s dairy milk, usually in that order and most memorably when my Da would bring both items home as a treat. Perhaps a chocolate bar with embedded Tayto was an inevitability but – guess what? – that sweet chocolatey ooze in your gob smacks mostly of onion and, with that, all desire to let it linger disappears.

Afterward, it tastes like you’ve downed a bag of Tayto, which seems unfair, given that you haven’t had the pleasure. The fundamental problem, I think, is that the crisp-chocolate balance is all wrong (well that, and the fact that the chocolate isn’t great to begin with). The real joy of crisps and chocolate is that you get to have the satisfying savoury crunch of the crisp followed by some silky chocolate sweetness. This bar manages, sadly, to rob you of both.

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