Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The "slow food" movement shits me.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to open any “quality” publication these days without coming across some pompous bore droning on and on about “slow food”.

As implemented in Melbourne, “slow food” basically seems to consist of some self-satisfied bourgeois demonstrating their environmental credentials by gathering with other self-satisfied bourgeois to woof down “horse intestine stuffed with larks’ testicles” or whatever the hell this nonsense is supposed to consist of.

In the end, of course, it’s all about conspicuous consumption; showing to your friends how enlightened and cosmopolitan you are without actually doing anything practical for the environment like – you know – not driving young Felicity to her trombone lesson in the family four-wheel drive.

And isn’t it funny how the regions targeted for “slow food” are the usual foodie wank-objects; Italy, Spain, France. How come we never see “slow food” festivals for the northern European countries?

“Well Sven, what do we have for ‘slow food Norway’?”

“OK Jacinta, we have picked herring that’s been marinating in its own slime for six-months, matched with some yellow pickled vegetable and washed down with a spirit we make from rotting potatoes.”

“Sounds delish!!”

Not that I’m a great fan of “slow food” in general.

Some of its principles are;

“Lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering.” Why? If genetic engineering is safe – why not use it, why this blanket ban?

“Lobbying against the use of pesticides.” Well, why not genetically engineer plants to be pest resistant so you don’t need pesticide? Problem solved.

“Preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation”. FTW does this mean? Human societies change all the time, that’s what makes them human and that includes food. Should we preserve “local and traditional food products” from 1350 AD, from 1750 AD, from last Tuesday?

I like food as much as the next bod*, but honestly chaps – don’t you have anything better to do with your time?

*Although probably not as much as Witchie.


Perseus said...

Native food only, ay? So my diet should consist of:

Macadamia Nuts

like, every day. None of this imported cow / sheep / pig / bananas / sugar / strawberries / passionfruit / broccoli / spinach / carrots imported rubbish.

Aesophia said...

You forgot witchitie grubs there Pers... or however you spell them.

Ramon, I believe this comes in the same Concerned Upper Middle Class' faction that has to have all organic clothes, and all accessories made in California.

Organic everything is the go today, along with fair trade coffee, etc.,etc. And of course, due to demand, the prices are high. If it's fashionable, it costs more... and when it all comes down to it, it's all about what the Jones are doing and thinking about.

I'm all good with HomeBrand rice and my un-organic apples (oh no, I'll have to wash them before I eat them *gasp*) from the local fruit shop... I can afford them. And you know what, they still taste good :)

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

My native foods consists of

Fish and chips,

Boy, did I luck out!

Anonymous said...

Mr Ramon, I believe I might be able to assist you with your questions:

“Lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering.”

Because genetic engineering could introduce illnesses in humans that might not show up for many years, and many people (rightly) don't trust the government or the commercial companies producing this food to run stringent enough tests, or in fact run long-term tests to pick up such potential issues.

“Lobbying against the use of pesticides.”

Because most pesticides then end up being consumed by the end-user (ie. us) and they're really not that healthy for us either.

Preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation

In other words, a) grow a variety of foodstuffs - don't just allow many tasty crops to dwindle to near extinction because only tasteless yet high-yield and bug-resistant varieties get favoured,

b) Foods that have evolved to grow in your local environment are better adapted to growing under those environmental conditions, thus cause less environmental stress to be produced,

c) Locally produced foods require less cost to transport,

d) We still insist on European style farming and growing Eurpoean style food crops in Australia when we don't have the same four predictable seasons. Similar to point b) above, this also places pressures on the environment to support food production it is not ideally adapted to. Eg. Why do we eat beef instead of kangaroo, when the latter are better adapted to our environment, and the taste isn't that much different? Because we have been culturally conditioned to think that the former tastes good and the latter is too strong in flavour.

e) Lastly, I believe the Slow Food movement likes to emphasise a considered preparation of cooking, rather than whipping out a quick bland meal after work. Unfortunately this is not a position I can support much, because I'm not some bored stay-at-home doctor's wife who can afoord to spend 3 hours each day cooking up a meal the kids won't think twice about as they wolf it down. Quick bland meals after work are the best I can manage.

I trust this helps with your confusion, and should you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my department for a purchase order.

kind regards,
Boogey H Man

Perseus said...

Organic Free Trade Coffee tastes like Organic Free Trade Dirt.

squib said...

Bogey a to c. agreed you reasonable voice of reason you

d. noooo! not Skippy!

e. this is a cop-out. I don't have a microwave and I prepare most dishes, far from bland, in under 30 mins

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Because genetic engineering could introduce illnesses in humans that might not show up for many years

On that basis Boogey, no scientific advance anywhere could be implemented and we'd still have cowpox.

Science can only operate on the basis on a "balance of probabilities" which states that on the basis of available evidence, this is less likely to be risky than this.

And I'm all for cooking and growing healthy food. We have a thriving herb garden in the backyard and The Boy loves to cook.

I just object to some upper-class putz sneering at me because I'm not eating grilled native earwigs.

Perseus said...

Boogey. Though you are the resident VOR, i put to you that Strawberries were once poisonous, but ancient farmers over generations and generations gradually un-poisoned them with breeding. GM is simply a more technical varaint of ancient processes. True, the speed at which we are varying the crops means there's not much testing time, but I suggest we should throw all our weight behind GM food in the hope people will be healthier.

If they can put a bit of Vitamin C into the rice so that half of Africa can avoid scurvy, what's the harm?

MrsK said...

Organic Free Trade Coffee tastes like Organic Free Trade Dirt.

I think you mean fair trade not free trade. And if you think it tastes like dirt I'd suggest the problem may lay with you and not the coffee.

Perseus said...

Mrs K:

1. Yes, you're right - I meant Fair Trade.

2. Yes, you're right. It doesn't taste like dirt. Fair Trade tastes exactly like great coffee. The fact I think it tastes like dirt is because I am mentally deranged or something. The problem is clearly with me.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong, I am not philosophically opposed to genetic engineering in principle. But some aspects concern me, these being:

a) the potential for a small change in the genetics to produce a big unpredictable change in the creatures that consume it. To mitigate such risk, rigorous testing over long-term periods is indicated,

b) the legal rights granted to commercial companies to patent the genetic changes, thus ensuring that a whole strain of food crop (including its descendants) then requires fees to be paid by every farmer that grows them,

c) the potential for GM crops to cross-pollinate other non-GM crops, thus expanding the reach of b).

Squib, we eat skippy regularly at our house. You should try it.

Also, I don't microwave anything except 1 minute pappadums, but I accept the meals I cook are hardly gourmet either.

Also, don't get me wrong: I like a Napolitana Duck L'orange with smoked capers, porcini mushrooms and caviar, served by a busty Sicilian wench smelling of rosemary, followed by a double soy decaf latte and a herbal cigarette, as much as the next red-blooded Aussie bloke; I just think it's a little crazy to be eating like that in a desert country like ours.

Perhaps if farmers had to pay the true costs of the river or arterial water sources they use for irrigation, and the carbon costs of the trees they cut down for farming land, then the price of crops like beef and rice might rise to the point where we could end up seeing Cookster flogging McSkippy burgers.

patchouligirl said...

I'm all for food cooked with love. There's nothing better than a healthy, well planned meal simmering away on the stove or in the oven. I don't see a need to invent the term 'slow cooking' as some recipes are inherently slow cooked.

On the subject of food sources, there are seed banks in existence to help stop many edible plant species becoming extinct. We only get a small selection of types of vegetables in the shops, there are many more that are only available if you grow them.

Christian Kerr said...

The truth about the slow food movement from The Spectator (which has a local politics correspondent of surpassing excellence) from 2004:

Farmers and gourmets from all over the world will be descending on Turin next month for the first ‘slow food’ conference. There will be nut-farmers from Brazil, yak-herders from Kyrgyzstan and raisin-farmers from Afghanistan, all gathered to celebrate and discuss traditional ways of cooking and eating.

I am sure the menu in the canteen will be jolly good but don’t let anyone fool themselves as to the true purpose of the slow food movement, which has been gaining much publicity in recent months and has signed up two British towns — Ludlow, Shropshire and Aylsham, Norfolk — to support its cause.

The movement was founded in Italy in 1986 not to support yak-herders from Kyrgyzstan but to look after the interests of Italian farmers. Its manifesto does not hold out much hope for Third World farmers wishing to better themselves through agricultural enterprise.

The drive towards free trade must be reversed, it demands, so as to ‘permit the use of trade tariffs and import quotas to regulate imports of food that can be produced locally....This is not to suggest that there should be no trade at all in food products but only that trade should be confined to whatever commodities cannot be supplied at local level.’ In other words, the world’s yak-herders would be welcome to export their produce to Rome’s restaurants because there aren’t very many yaks in Italy, but Ivory Coast tomato-growers would be frozen out, as would Chilean wine-makers and Chinese wheat-farmers.

Under a section entitled the ‘failure of the industrialised agricultural model’ the manifesto goes on to claim that only by adopting a locally based agriculture can the world help to achieve ‘food security’. This is nonsense: the world has never been better fed, and this is entirely thanks to world trade. It is when people rely on local food, such as Irishmen during the potato famine, that they are in danger of starving. What the slow food movement is really about is ensuring the financial security of Europe’s feather-bedded farmers.

wari lasi said...

I must firstly go to bat for our beloved Witchie. Why did you pick on her Ramon?

Bring it on Boogey and Perseus re the GM stuff. But I'm with Boogey on this one. As is the case with nearly all genetic programs, the old adage, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" applies. We know how to fuck with the little buggers but we really are barging in where angels fear to tread. "Let's just change this and see what happens. Want to try some?" Easy easy I say.

That said this "slow food" bullshit is just that, bullshit. Thanks for the insight above Christian.

Now for my mate the microwave.

Being a sole parent (OK I've got a maid and a babysitter) I cook almost every night. The microwave is great for cooking rice, almost all vegetables (Emma loves her broccoli and mashed potatoes) and of course for defrosting and heating up pre-prepared stuff. And what's wrong with re-heating pre-prepared stuff I ask? And of course for heating up that cup of coffee you completely forgot about while you were running around in the mroning like a mad idiot. I love my microwave.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Interesting point, Christian.

My point is that it's meaningless to talk about "local" food.

Historians of the Roman Empire have discovered goods and food from Judaea popping up in Britian in the 4th century CE.

The point being, humans have always traded food and always will.

My, we have some interesting discussions here.

Wari, I was just pointing out Witchie likes cooking.

homesick said...

Organic Free Trade Coffee tastes like Organic Free Trade Dirt.

I beg to differ Pers. The oldies grow coffee up in the Byron Hinterland and it is great coffee. It may or may not be fair/free trade but it is organic by default ie Dad is too tight to pay for expensive fertilisers.

And it is 'native' coffee too so sod off to all that Brazilian/Guatamalan dirt eh!

Mad Cat Lady said...

I'd never thought about the origin of the 'slow food' movement before :) I'd just assumed it was a reaction against fast food, like Mcdonalds etc and parents being slackers and feeding their children on chicken nuggets etc, like my brother in law does.

I saw him deep fry bacon the other day.

catlick said...

"“Lobbying against the use of pesticides.” Well, why not genetically engineer plants to be pest resistant so you don’t need pesticide? Problem solved."

Trouble is they have engineered the food to be pesticide resistant so they can actually spray the crop (canola) rather than use traditional cultivation techniques. We therefore get more pesticides in the food, and Monsanto sell more pesticides to the farmer.

Melba said...

Can I add my hatred of dishes containing foam or anything with "smoked air" to your hatred of the Slow Food Movement, Ramon?

Fuck Foam, I say.

It could be a new movement.

catlick said...

Please substitute "herbicide" for "pesticide" in my last comment. Then ignore it as it does not go to Ramon's point, which was about pesticides.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...


The sort they make polystyrene cups out of?

Sounds delish!!

Anonymous said...

I'm all for the traditional Mediteranean diet - circa a few centuries BCE - no water, just wine and ale, and big servings of burnt sacrificial livestock. I just don't know how this new diet would go down in the public service though.

Melba said...

No, not that type of foam,Ramon. More the kind you see in the little waves at the beach. With bubbles, and stuff.

It's all that Spanish chef's fault, the el Bulli one. I blame him. They call it molecular gastronomy. I call it wankerdom.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

It's astonishing the ways people can totally fuck-up good food, Melba.

I had the worst meal of my life in Budapest because I insisted we eat "traditional Hungarian food".

If I didn't have my head up my own arse, I would have noticed all the Hungarians were eating Chinese and pizza - and with good fuckin' reason.

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

It'll end up like whatever the latest indie music trend is this week:

"Yeah, I really loved that pickled llama shank in goat's curd with turnip and wild rice recipe - you know, the one that I used to bake in a tajine for 17-and-a-half hours - until everyone started to cook it. Its newfound popularity has, like, ruined it for me."

With any luck, all the foodie wankers will turn from slow food to what I think should be the next great taste sensation for the "my food is so much more exotic than yours" set - cannibalism*.

Problem solved.

* The previous nasty comment does not necessarily correspond to the views of TSFKA management.

Anyone offended by that comment should report it immediately to the internet police or their mother, stat.

** Good to see you back, Ramon.

WitchOne said...

Ramon, Wari, play nicely.

Slow food is bullshit. Only some dishes need to be slow cooked, Lamb Shanks used to be a throw away item until people started cooking the bejesus out of them and making them palatable. Of course, I have the best recipes for Shanks!

I also make a great soup out of beef shin bones (BIG dog bones), sadly once I say they're for human consumption and ask for the ones out of the fridge I get charged human prices. Cabbage rolls also take time but look at the ingredients you're working with.

Slow food is not a requirement and my microwave is for reheating and defrosting only. If a meal cannot be made and served in under 45 minutes MAX, 15 minutes otherwise, then forget it. Why waste my time? I love food, I love eating I don't love fucking around with food I could be eating in a few minutes if prepared and cooked properly*.

*My way.

Sorry, food is a slight obsession with me, I love it, I love it so much. Taste, smell, look, feel it, it can be the most erotic, the most sickening, the most emotional moment of your life if it's the right meal at the right time with the right balance for all the senses.

patchouligirl said...

I'm a keen cook too, and a slow cooked roast or tomato sauce for pasta or home made stock are all great. Didn't anyone's mum have a crock-pot? They were great - stick everything in before leaving for work, come home to a delicious meal. There's a new version (called a miracle pot I think) that you heat up initially then it cooks with no power for a long time.

I'm with you Wari on the microwave rice cooker, I par cook brown rice in it so I can make risotto or congee (theres another slow cooked food) out of it without it taking ridiculous amounts of time and chicken stock. I'll do small amounts of pasta in the rice cooker and its great for cooking potatoes for mash. It saves stove-top space when you are using a number of pots and pans, and is easier to wash up. Its a great invention. The microwave is also great for loosening up those packs of ready cooked hokkien noodles or defrosting whole limes I've frozen.

Anonymous said...

Why do we eat beef instead of kangaroo, when the latter are better adapted to our environment, and the taste isn't that much different?

Sounds good to me, but as far as I know, kangaroos don't have the same herding instinct that sheep, cows, goats, horses, etc. do. So I imagine that they would be a nightmare to try and farm on a large commercial scale. Unless you set up some sort of battery-farm - feedlot system, which I can't imagine would be great for the environment either.

WitchOne said...

But Patch, while a roast shouldn't be skimped it doesn't require looking after either, chuck it in a hot oven in the morning, turn the oven off and leave it closed. Turn it back on 30 minutes prior to serving to finish off the meat and it's done.

Roast Lamb in the crock pot is good too, with a bottle of Rose, 10 or so garlic cloves and a couple of other bits and pieces.

I'm making cabbage rolls tonight, you guys suck, I'm going away tomorrow so I don't have the time for this but now I have a craving! 1 hour in the steamer and 30 minutes in the oven, not mention rolling the damn things! Summer is for easy food!!!!!!!!

catlick said...

Whilst I am a fan of locally sourced, home grown and home cooked food, (control issues?...) I suspect the slow food movement is also somewhat derived from a human impulse to enunciate a point of difference. We love to demonstrate how special, distinct and knowledgeable we are, and this food esoterica is a lovely way to to it.

Anonymous said...

Alex - Nah, all they'd need is a big multi-hectare station and the farmers could use a eucalyptus leaf to round up the roos.

Farmer: (whistles) Phweeeeeeewweeee
Skippy: You called? Where's the emergency?
Farmer: Bang!

Anonymous said...

Of course there's no reason to stop with kangaroos. I can't be the only person to have wondered what koala tastes like (slight eucalyptus flavour maybe?).

Also, it'd be nice if someone could come up with a commercial use for all the cane toads that are about.

Anonymous said...

Also, it'd be nice if someone could come up with a commercial use for all the cane toads that are about.

An organic alternative to Ecstasy for ravers?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Anybody know any recipes for all the owls that are infesting this wide brown land of ours.

Anonymous said...

An organic alternative to Ecstasy for ravers?

Might be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Ramon, what are you going to do when your son grows up and wants to work for the Liberals, then later join The Australian as a journalist, all the while raising owls for a hobby?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Rip my sleeve, Boogey, all the while crying out "I haff no son" in a thick yiddish accent - as I believe is the accepted protocol in these situations.