PPC 089 (January 2010)



PPC 89 (January 2010)



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18 Christmas and Chanukah Chocolate Melt Together Deborah Prinz
23 Is Slurping Uncouth? A.R.T Kemasang
26 Constructing Identity: Tradition and Infiltration in Tuscan Food Culture Katie Phelan
35 Baked Realities: Big Fat Greek Breads Maria Hnaraki
67 Michelangelo and the Working-man’s Lunch Gillian Riley
77 Court-Bouillon: an Early Attestation in Anglo-Norman French? William Sayers
84 In vino veritas, in tuberi fraus – Essai sur la semantique historique du vin et de la truffe Rengenier C. Rittersma
92 Mushrooms in the Roman Kitchen Cecilia Hosinsky
101 The remenite Kitchen Sue Larkey
111 Vin jaune – a Rejoinder William Woys Weaver
114 Book Reviews Michele Field
119 More Reviews  

Notes on Contributors

MICHELE FIELD was formerly literary editor of the Sydney Morning Herald but now lives in London. MARIA HNARAKI is the Director of Greek Studies at Drexel University. She is author of the Cretan Music – Unraveling Ariadne’s Thread. CECILIA HOSINSKY was the librarian at the Swedish Solar Telescope in the Canary Islands. Since her retirement, she has lived on La Palma, pursuing her interests in archaeology and ethnology. A.R.T. KEMASANG is an Indonesian writer and researcher living in London. He is author of articles and longer studies of the history of tea and of the Chinese in Indonesia. SUE LARKEY lives in Israel and is the author of Hamithah Hatemani (‘The Yemenite Kitchen’) and Lehem Tari (‘Tresh Bread’). KATIE PHELAN did her first degree at Dun Laoghaire and then a Masters at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Parma. RABBI DEBORAH PRINZ is Director of Program and Member Service at the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Her research has been assisted by a Gilder Lehrman Fellowship at the Rockefeller Library, a Starkoff Fellowship and a Director’s Fellowship from the American Jewish Archives. GILLIAN RILEY is author of the Oxford Companion to Italian Food and omniscient about food in art. RENGENIER C. RITTERSMA studied history and philology at Amsterdam and obtained his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence. He is currently writing a book on the cultural history of the truffle. WILLIAM SAYERS is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. He writes on medieval western European languages and literatures. WILLIAM WOYS WEAVER is a food historian and Adjunct Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.



I should apologize for the late-running of this issue. But all has not been entirely quiescent. Our Food and Drink in Archaeology 1 has been singled out a the best UK food history book for the year by the Gourmand Food Book Awards; we have had much notice and good sales of Rhubarbaria; and the reprints of Trifle and The Centaur’s Kitchen have appeared. We are now hell for leather towards completing Taste or Taboo and The Realm of Quince and Fig.


An enjoyable lunge through France to Auch (rhyming with posh) provoked interesting comparisons with Britain and the British condition. Although we may recognize, in our subconscious, that France thought up the big out-of-town supermarket – and indeed delighted in visiting early manifestations of the form on our way back home – I think we always reckoned that the French high street, and their weekly produce markets, would carry on regardless. Although we have experienced several premonitions, this trip brought home to us the extent to which France has lost much of its retail food sector. Whole towns seem to function without small shops; villages have lost all retail outlets of any kind (even bars and cafés). Particularly in the south-west, the urban landscape seemed moribund. Spirits did not greatly lift after visiting markets. Many of the weekly ones we visited seemed shadows of their former selves. We have a restricted list of produce to take home with us: yoghurt in glass bottles, butter and cane sugar are three staples. If you take the ferry from the Breton port of Roscoff, you have the charming port settlement itself (population 4,000) or St-Pol-de-Léon (population 7,000) close by. Ask for a creamery and the only answer is the supermarket: any one of a dozen that ring these towns. The same is true across the country. When musing on these facts, I was alerted to Peter Crosskey’s website (http://www.crosskey.co.uk) with a report on French supermarkets and their relationships with growers. It mirrors, of course, the debates we have in Britain. Peter Crosskey’s review of Hervé This can be read at the end of this issue. He himself is a journalist working on French issues, and who also runs the English-language site promoting Isigny butter and dairy goods (www.inside-isigny.com). His report reads thus:

‘“Today, we have come to sell our produce for a fair price,” declares Gérard Ricardi. The secretary general of radical farmers’ union MODEF (Mouvement pour la Défence des Exploitants Familiaux) has plenty of takers for tomatoes at €1.50/kilo outside the mairie of Ivry sur Seine on a blazing hot morning in late August. ‘The supermarkets pay around 45 centimes/kilo for tomatoes that cost 70 centimes/kilo to grow, Ricardi explains. There is 20 centimes/kilo to find for transport and packaging, before the same tomatoes are sold in Paris supermarkets for €2.50/kilo. ‘“Prices like that are a racket,” Ricardi grumbles. “Here, the growers are earning 70 centimes/kilo, there’s 20 centimes/kilo freight and packing, with 60 centimes for the distributor.” Total €1.50/kg. ‘“We want to make it clear that there is scope for everyone to earn a living. The state should face up to its responsibilities and support consumers and growers alike.” ‘Sixty years ago, the French state imposed a maximum retail margin on agricultural products. “The state recognized then that retailers were overcharging and took action to stop the abuse.” ‘Known as the coéfficient multiplicateur, retailers were able to multiply their cost prices by a factor of between 1.5 and 1.7, but no more. “The grocers were just lining their pockets, but it was not acceptable then in the way it is now.” ‘In fact, this policy had two important benefits: “Consumer prices were lower, because prices were linked to growers’ production costs and growers received a fair return for their work,” Ricardi observes. ‘“There was even a shared interest for retailers to pay more to the producer, so that the retail price could be higher. It was a virtuous circle that worked for consumers and producers, too.” ‘The coéfficient multiplicateur lasted until 1986, when the retail lobby finally managed to kill it off. In recent years, a watered-down form of the coefficient multiplicateur returned to the Code de l’Agriculture as an emergency measure, but it has never been implemented because there is simply no political will to question the integrity of multiple retailers. ‘MODEF is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. MODEF was founded to stand up for small family farmers at a time when the mainstream farming unions would have cheerfully excluded six million peasants from the political process. Today, the largest union FNSEA uses the word paysan (peasant) to pluck the heartstrings of a nation that has very varied notions of a time before industrial farming, which should somehow have been better than today but probably was not. ‘Against all the odds, MODEF is still fighting the same assumptions in harder times. There are fewer peasants – just under half a million – but the growing power of a handful of multiple retailers has become a stranglehold on the nation’s food supply. ‘“We are disappearing and the head of state takes us for a bunch of idiots,” growls Girardi. Around him are crates of nectarines, plums and melons, fruit on which supermarkets earn similar margins to the tomato bonanza he described above. ‘“They’re buying my potatoes for 5 centimes a kilo,” another producer chips in. “They cost me 20 centimes a kilo to grow.” ‘As he speaks, just 100 metres away a French-owned discount grocery chain is selling 2.5 kilos of potatoes in a net for €2.99. At 13 locations around Paris, there are queues to buy MODEF-produced potatoes priced at €4 for a 5 kilo net. ‘The previous night, when I first spoke to Ricardi, the growers had loaded an articulated lorry with tonnes of potatoes, melons, tomatoes, nectarines, plums and salad grown in Lot-et-Garonne before driving to the French capital to sell directly to Parisian consumers. Not that the public needed a lot of convincing. ‘The prices speak for themselves: two lettuces for €1, compared to €0.99 for a single lettuce in the same French discounter mentioned earlier, while MODEF nectarines were priced at €2/kilo against the retailer’s €2.29/kilo. ‘At a local shopping centre a bit further away, Spanish grade II tomatoes are being sold in a larger supermarket for €1.09/kilo. MODEF growers are not alone in resenting the kind of market distortion that arises from a European directive that has allowed countries such as Germany and Spain to exploit cheap foreign labour and undercut growers elsewhere in the European Union. ‘“The Bolkenstein directive must be revoked as a matter of urgency,” says MEP Patrick Le Hyaric, who was present at Ivry sur Seine that morning. “This directive has allowed Spanish growers to take on Moroccan farm labourers and pay them less than the minimum European salaries,” he declared. As a member of the European parliamentary commission for agriculture, he had just returned from Lot-et-Garonne where he had met a delegation of fresh produce growers, some of whom were on the same improvised market square in front of the mairie at Ivry sur Seine. “I knew the situation was difficult, but now I have a better idea of the scale of the crisis that is gripping the small and medium-sized holdings in this sector.” Over the past 20 years, Lot-et-Garonne has already seen a lot of growers go out of business. “Today, those that remain do not know if they will still be standing in six months’ time,” warns Le Hyaric. ‘He is organizing an urgent meeting with the French minister for food, farming and fisheries, Bruno Le Maire, to demand emergency aid packages for growers and the urgent implementation of the coéfficient multiplicateur. This is available as a crisis measure but has been studiously avoided by the French government. ‘“In its present form, the Common Agricultural Policy has a number of negative effects. But in its original form, it was a sound piece of policy. The préférence communautaire was not a bad idea, it just did not fit in with ultra-liberal ideas or the so-called ‘free market’, that is all. ‘“So Europe gave in to US demands. And now, for instance, France is completely dependent on imported soya to feed its livestock, most of it from Brazil.” As long as cheap food imports can be procured around the world, consumers in the industrial world can get by without small, local food producers. But abandoning an entire sector of the economy has a cost that should be neither underestimated nor trivialized. It is neither a secret nor is it difficult to understand. Talk to anyone who sells food direct: just don’t leave it too long.’


I was interested to compare two books that came through this quarter. The first is by Jacqui Wood, Tasting the Past: Recipes from the Stone Age to the Present (The History Press, £16.99). The second is Ivan Day’s Cooking in Europe 1650–1850 (Greenwood Press, £31.95). I know the need that many have, whether re-enactors or students and enthusiasts, for usable yet authentic recipes. Jacqui Wood’s book, therefore, seemed to answer a need. She is described as the television series Time Team’s resident food historian and is by profession director of Saveock Water Archaeology. She certainly gives us lots of recipes all the way from the Ancient Britons to the post-war years, but with hardly a one is there any form of reference, explanation or historical context. Ivan Day’s work, however – although expensive – is matchless: accurate, referenced, in touch with the originals and instructive.


As the Copenhagen talks rumble on, the average man is repeatedly struck by the distance between intention and reality on the question of carbon. Take supermarkets and out-of-town shopping in my own small country district. While it is a given that new supermarkets will drive small businesses to the wall, the planning authorities continue to encourage them. The geographical texture of our district is that of four small towns, none of more than 8,000 souls, about ten miles distant from each other. Two large cities and myriad substantial towns lurk just beyond the district boundary. Ignoring these resources, the planners have encouraged supermarkets on the perimeters of three of our towns, complete with the inevitable car park. As if to encourage them further, the council is now imposing charges for all on-street parking. Thus should you wish to visit a butcher or greengrocer, you will pay to park, but if Tesco is your goal, the parking is free. A small country town is itself a supermarket avant la lettre; as is, to an even greater degree, a covered market in a medium-sized settlement. The only difference between these and Sainsbury’s is that you have to pay in cash several times over as you wend from one trader to the next. It seems remarkable that the planners and local politicians cannot embrace and encourage this view of their inheritance and secure the continuing prosperity not merely of individuals but whole networks of people and families. Why do not all town councils have a free covered market open to local producers? The farmers’ market movement, I have to say, is but a mild stab towards an answer. And we also respond to the insistent concern about carbon that seems the emotional burden of our generation. How quickly it caught up with us. There was a moment when many were eager to buy food from friends and neighbours because it was fresher, nicer, and more sensible as a way of life. No longer: each purchase is a proclamation of faith, a gesture towards a whole new disposition. You have only to read the cookery books, not a word of which seems written without acknowledgement of our predicament. This is becoming mighty killjoy; eating is now a responsibility – to yourself, your longevity, your neighbours, your suppliers, the whole world. Blimey, I thought cooks were bringers of comfort and joy, not priests at a secular altar. It’s no longer enough to respect your colleagues, your children, your chance encounters on a tube station platform; today, Nigel Slater writes in his latest, we should respect the radish. A step too close to the anthropomorphic. Part of our battle for more meaning on the table has been to take back into our own hands some of the processes of food production. The clearest instance has been the revival of vegetable gardening. A cabbage you grew yourself has more value than one you bought. You’re telling me! It will have consumed many hours of digging, much money in the purchase of seed or plants, long nights of protection against slugs, and days of scaring pigeons. By any reckoning, it will be costly. Yet the somewhat bedraggled, lacy-leaved and meagre specimen you proudly bear to the sink is no competitor to that grown commercially by someone who knows what he is doing. And the bought cabbage costs but a few pence. In my view the allotment-holders have their priorities wrong. The one thing that English farmers can supply cheaply, efficiently and without too much disgusting happening to the produce is green vegetables. Why waste hours in the garden? If you want to do something to imbue your kitchen with good morals, try keeping animals or butter-making, curing bacon, stuffing sausages – something of high value, difficult, subject to the operations of good taste. So I am advocating pig-keeping in your back garden. (I have noticed a great increase in pig-keeping in my own neighbourhood.) The most useful revival that we could all encourage would be that of the market garden. The cordon sanitaire that was the historic ring of small-scale but intensive plots around the towns of Europe has given way to industrial estates. Market gardening, as any who have read Malcolm Thick’s Neat House Gardens will know, is strikingly more productive than field-growing, and certainly more efficient than most do-it-yourself gardeners. I can’t help thinking that the disappearance of this trade has more to do with planning and zoning than the dominance of British retail by supermarkets and their ilk.


The next annual meeting of the Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions will be held on Saturday 24 April 2010 at our current venue in York. The programme has been organized by Laura Mason and Ann Rycraft around a crunchy theme with a particular focus on historic biscuits. The full programme will be available in mid-January, and will be distributed to former symposiasts on our mailing list. If any other reader wishes to receive a copy, please write to C. Anne Wilson, c/o Special Collections, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT.


I apologize for not mentioning in an earlier issue the death of the pioneer of home-built brick ovens, Alan Scott. Although Australian by birth he spent much of his working life in California and any one who ever had dealings with him (as did I, by post alone) will know of his friendly charm. His book, with Daniel Wing, The Bread Builders, is an essential for any oven crafter. He really was a pioneer. There is a useful short obituary in the New York Times for February 6 2009.


It was remarkable how much of a fuss was made about the death of Britain’s favourite TV chef. This may indeed have been a true mark of the affection in which he was held by a large segment of the population. I wrote an obituary in The Guardian which can be retrieved from that paper’s website. While Floyd’s own revised memoirs were published post mortem, not long anti mortem there appeared a book from the television producer David Pritchard called Shooting the Cook: a True Story about Food, Television and the Rise of TV’s Superchefs – the Director’s Cut (Fourth Estate, 2009, 266 pages, £16.99). This is essential reading for any who would seek to understand the television process and something of its impact on Britain in the 70s and beyond. Pritchard, who famously fell out with Floyd (or maybe that should be the other way round), is a born raconteur and a mighty clever director and is perhaps the most creative element of all his lifetime partnerships.


I was sad to hear that Tessa McKirdy has been unwell. She feels that her health is not sufficiently recovered to continue her business. This is cataclysmic news to those who have relied on the McKirdys over the years and if Tessa had a collection of mint copies of all those books that have thanks to them in their forewords and acknowledgements she would fill a library. I am sure all readers join me in wishing her a successful convalescence.


from Wilfrid Prest My interest is biographical rather than gastronomic – my life of Sir William Blackstone, author of the Commentaries on the Laws of England, and much else, was published last year. But I am still sniffing around (and about to embark on a new edition of the Commentaries for OUP). Here’s the problem. In March 1978 the American Bar Association Journal, vol. 64, published (at pp. 374–6) a brief article entitled ‘Lady Blackstone’s Cookery Book’. This gave a summary account of a book of recipes seemingly compiled by Lady (Sarah) Blackstone, neé Clitherow (d. 1783), who married William Blackstone in 1761. The author of this piece and the then owner of the recipe book, was a Mrs Sara Chrzanowski, described as ‘a professional artist and housewife, living in London’, and a descendant of Blackstone. The Librarian of London’s Polish Library (238–40 King St, w6 0rp), a Ms Jadwiga Szmidt, informed me in 2002 that Mrs Sara Chrzanowski had died in July 1978; and indeed the Daily Telegraph of 10 July 1978 published a death notice for ‘Chrzanowski, Sara (Sally née Clapcott), beloved mother of Sylvie and Karol…’. That is really all I have to go on. In 1999 I attempted to contact by mail the only two Chrzanowskis then listed in the London telephone directory, but without success; I think one letter was returned ‘Gone Away’, the other went into the void. <wilfrid.prest@adelaide.edu.au>


Nicholas Gray and Maggie Armstrong have sent me details of their publication Unveiling Apulia! They have adopted the pen-name of VarieMani and they describe their work as follows: ‘This new Guide aims to reveal some of the unsung treasures of a small area of the Basso Salento, the far tail-end of the Apulian peninsular. Billed as Paradise, the countryside around the towns of Salve, Presicce, Acquarica-del-Capo, and Ugento boasts a hidden backside that few tourists have the pleasure of discovering.  VarieMani snips the braces that have too long supported the breeches that modestly veil this enchanting prospect from the gaze of the curious visitor.’ I should warn you that this is no ordinary tourist guide. Read closely the words of their announcement. See also the cover to this issue. If you want to view a web-based version of Unveiling Apulia! follow link <http://issuu.com/variemani/docs/unveiling_apulia?mode=a_p> and if you want to order a book version contact VarieMani: <spigolizzi@libero.it>


Michele Field kindly sent me an extract from the website for Technology Review which offers readers for Christmas a super-duper DIY kit for molecular gastronomers. It costs $60 from cuisine-innovation.com.

‘Add a dash of scientific sizzle to your kitchen with a molecular-gastronomy kit. The kit contains specialized tools, including pipettes and silicone tubing, and ingredients (like agar and carrageenan) that can be used to create six unusual desserts, including red fruit juice caviar and sparkling soft toffees. A booklet explains the chemistry behind each recipe.’


I have been exercised of late by the connection between molecular gastronomy, food science and the processed-food industrial complex. We have all welcomed the new perspectives opened up by the late Nicholas Kurti, Harold McGee and like-minded investigators. Their impact might be paralleled to that experienced by the Victorians after reading William Mattieu Williams’ The Chemistry of Cookery (1885), which packaged and interpreted Rumford, Liebig and the scientific giants of his own age; or, in minor key, the great popularity of the British television chef Philip Harben in the 1950s who put a male, practical and pop-science spin on his recipes and demonstrations. A difference between these various stages of explanation is the giant strides made by scientists working on behalf of the food processing industry – and in food technology in general. The culinary interpreters simply have a great deal more to discuss. One consequence of our enthusiasm is reverence for the food-scientist, but should we not question his or her value? It is unfortunately not possible to dismiss or despise all processed food. Life would be so much simpler if we could. However, if we set aside the proto-processors that were the smokers, the cheesemakers, the salters and so forth, we then discern the canners, the ready-meal makers and the industrial producers that inhabit the supermarket aisles. These are the people that have driven food science. These, it seems to me, are of about the same social utility as an investment banker trading his next derivative. Much of what food scientists do might not exist were it not for the demands of the food industry. Why should we be excited about another gelling mechanism or the creation of an artificial flavour if their sole purpose is to manufacture processed rubbish? This is knowledge without function, looking for a worthwhile home. Unfortunately, there are chefs that offer it a bed to lie on. Do these ends justify the very dubious means?


I am grateful to Dr George Lewis of Leicester University for alerting me to a special issue of Southern Cultures, out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, devoted to food. To quote their publicity: ‘The Edible South: essays, recipes, reviews, memories, favorite dishes, and a free DVD full of the best short food films collected anywhere. On the menu: Nathalie Dupree on Grits & Yesteryear’s Lowcountry Shrimp; The Lee Brothers on Buttermilk & Every Dish It Touches; John T. Edge on African American Cookbooks; Drum Head Stew Connoisseurs on a Mouthwatering Coastal Delicacy; John Egerton on Custard Pie & “The Yank-Off & Cool-Down”; Kathleen Purvis on a Pimento Cheese Outrage; Fred Sauceman on Fresh Frog Legs & Mining Ponds at Midnight; Jean Anderson on Tidewater Sweet Potato Pie; Mama Dip on Fooling Her Papa with a Dessert; John Currence on Peas – and his Dad at the Stove, Screaming at the Saints; Jessica Harris on Okra from Memphis to Mumbai; Bill Smith on Halved-Crab Soup & Using Chicken Necks as Bait.’ The issue costs $9.95 and can be obtained through the journal’s website <http://www.southerncultures.org>. The use of photography in the make-up of the text is both instructive and alluring.


Here at Allaleigh we have a smallholding of twenty-five acres on which we run thirty sheep, the odd litter of pigs (though lately the sow and the boar have not been very productive), bring on a few acres of woodland and host a summer visit of half-a-dozen bullocks. When we started doing this in the 1980s, we were in happy receipt of an annual subsidy from the Ministry of something between £75 and £100. Its size depended on the number of stock. When the European Union reformed its system of agricultural support, now three or four years ago, it removed the link between produce and subsidy. Once every registered holding had gone through the extensive form-filling and mapping required, it was entitled to a Single Farm Payment which rose and fell according to size. Since the scheme’s inception, we have watched with rising eyebrows as the grant to ourselves went from £400 to this year’s £1,250 – for twenty-five acres. Hence a farm of 400 acres would see a payment of £20,000 (the average English holding, including minnows like ourselves, is 125 acres). We are also eligible, but do not ask for, supplementary grants if we enter into stewardship agreements with the Ministry. These impose some limits on your agricultural behaviour, but none very onerous. While skipping to the bank, I do wonder what is the point of these subsidies. Would our food be more expensive in the shops if they were not made? Do they in some way reconcile the farmer to the poor deal he gets from the food retailer? Are animals happier on subsidized farms? How can a system that increases payments to us seventeenfold in a handful of years (for absolutely no specified return) be described as reformed or improved. Why is not the populace as revolted by these payments as it is by bankers’ bonuses?

BOOK REVIEWS by Michele Field

Creative Commons License These reviews are published under the legal arrangements of Creative Commons (see www.creativecommons.org.uk). You may reprint the reviews – as many of them as you like – without cost, provided that (1) you acknowledge the source (PPC) and the authors, (2) you do not make commercial use of them or alter them, and (3) you attach the CC symbol  to your re-use, so the spirit continues. In other words, the ideas and information should circulate – to everyone’s benefit. Michele Field The Larder: The guide to Scotland’s food and drink Ed. Donald Reid The List Guides Scotland | 2009 | 160p | £7.99 The book is about organics, so not as inclusive as the title says. It is the micro-breweries and boutique whiskies that get a chapter, not the ‘industry’. There is a sweet lament for the Scots largely losing their taste for seaweed and not yet acquiring it for sea-urchins – in fact, unlike most promotional publications it is hardly uncritical. The plan is to have annual editions, and the next needs at least a page on venison. Nature’s Matrix: Linking agricultural, conversation and food sovereignty Ivette Perfecto et al. Earthscan | 2009 | 242p | £17.99 Academics’ arguments are crucial, but these authors scramble to find the hard statistics that so well support our climate change debates. They are right about the damage to the world now – but they endorse biodiversity (who doesn’t?) while not reconciling it to the efficiencies in farming that will feed a starving world. Journalists might translate this book into more practical approaches. The Iraqi Cookbook Lamees Ibrahim Stacey International | 2009 | 302p | £24.95 For Western cooks, the distinctions between various Middle Eastern cuisines come slowly (it is usually ‘Turkish & Other’ or ‘Israeli & Other’, depending on your starting point). Iraqi food is far better than Iraqi politics, though you may baulk at lamb-stomach soup. Often something is inside something else (marvellous stuffed green olives) or is stir-fried, like eggs with dates. Freshly Picked Jojo Tulloch Chatto & Windus | 2009 | 288p | £20 The book has an eccentricity which the format of seasonal menus, pictures and poems will not prepare a cook to expect. Yeasted tart dough is back in the centre of my life (so much easier than finding space for rolling in a small kitchen) and dampers on a stick are finally well-explained. Eggs in a spoon work on a gas-hob as well as last night’s campfire.  Nice surprises. Far Eastern Odyssey Rick Stein BBC Books | 2009 | 320p | £25 Stein deserves his wide following because among the hackneyed recipes are flashes of inspiration. Shredded deep-fried smoked mackerel – who would have guessed? Mucky-looking but lovely potato curries like no others in my recipe books. Burmese and Korean recipes are excluded, but otherwise beginners are taken from Bali to Bangladesh. Local Food: How to Make It Happen in Your Community Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins Transition Books, Devon | 2009 | 216p | £12.95 The idea that most pleased me is that GIS mapping might soon describe crop areas, so if you want ‘local peaches’ your computer can show you a sky-eye’s picture of where they are grown. Maybe only half what we eat truly fits the growing conditions close to us, but finding the ‘nearest’ may of interest. This book reflects the ‘Transition Towns’ movement – community-based solutions to living with a lighter environmental footprint. European Festival Food Elisabeth Luard Grub Street | 2009 | 335p | £20 Most of the food here feels nostalgic – but of what? It is curious that we often remember the food better than the festival it once marked. Cakes (June weddings, sticky Christmas events) probably evoke occasions better than savoury food, apart from roast turkey. It is not the usual ‘seasonality’ argument that Luard is making, but as with oysters and truffles – a peak of flavour usually does coincide with something’s role in f