What a Carve Up!

In an attempt to avoid this thread turning in to A N Other debate about honest fare, we are reposting Brockley Ben's question in a new thread. He says:

Among all the tiresome "mung" nonsense that gets churned out on anonymous autopilot on this site, the bit that bemuses me most is the dishonest fare theme. 

I love food and care where it comes from. But equally I can understand people who don’t: people who either see food as fuel and don’t much care for what it is, or who enjoy eating but don’t care about how it’s produced. 

I’d argue against these points of view (particularly the latter) but I accept that it’s part of a multi-faceted worldview and one of the consequences of decades of development and investment into the industrialisation of food production. 

I like being able to buy food cheaply myself, of course. I just choose to be picky about certain foodstuffs where I can. What I don’t get is the “dishonest” label. 

How, for instance, can anyone label as dishonest a pub (whose food they haven’t tried) when all they’ve done is openly state that they like to produce seasonal, local food? In what way is that dishonest? 

I can guarantee there are pubs in the area selling “homemade” food that has come straight out of a freezer. It might have been home-assembled but most of the making has been done in an industrial unit in another part of the country. 

Is that more honest? I know I’m (ahem) feeding some knee-jerk trollish behaviour here, but I’m generally interested in this perceived disparity. How did caring about what you eat and where it comes from become seen as dishonest by some people in this little corner of the world?

---

BC gets the “dishonest fare” meme. It’s an attack on the affectations of (primarily, but not exclusively) middle class people, who fetishise food and are suckered in to paying a premium for things based on their labels.

Up to a point, it’s fair criticism: The virtues of “organic” are vastly exaggerated, all balsamic vinegars taste basically the same and bottled water brands like Fiji should be made illegal. There is no-one more worthy of ridicule than someone who insists that only chocolate with 70% cocoa solids is edible.

A bag of chips served up without any care for presentation or any claims made on its behalf other than it fills a hole and tastes great is, in some ways, “more honest” than something that lectures you about its provenance and the artisan love with which it is assembled. But that tiny, inconsequential truth is used as an excuse to dismiss issues like animal welfare, nutritional balance or environmental sustainability. If we reassure ourselves that some of the food claims are exaggerated, then we give ourselves a convenient excuse not to have to pay more for free range eggs.

"Dishonest fare" also denies the value of aesthetics and context in terms of how we enjoy our food. The thinking goes: "Food - and thus culture - should be purely functional. Anything more is aspirational. And there's nothing I hate more than someone who wants their lives to be more communal or beautiful." Before Brockley Common was created, there were people who argued that creating a place of beauty in Brockley was asking for trouble - it would just become a crime spot and be immediately vandalised. Better to put barbed wire up, they said. It's the same line of thinking that condemns freshly baked bread - why pay more, when it's all basically the same stuff?

Food is culture. When mums pushed Big Macs through the school bars to save their kids from eating Jamie Oliver’s new menus, it wasn’t because the new food was too expensive or they genuinely doubted the nutritional value: They felt that their lifestyle was being challenged / criticised by some uppity TV presenter. And they were right. Except that the cultural norms they wanted to impress upon their children were likely to shorten their kids' lives and impair their ability to learn.

Not everything is subjective. Some things are better than others. A diet without vegetables is worse than one with them. And a life which includes a dose of extra virgin olive oil or a stroll past a communal garden from time to time is - ceteris paribus - better than one that doesn't.

119 comments:

Mb said...

I remember the old Dandelion Blue selling litte bags of rice in twee hessian bags fastened with a ribbon at a silly price. Dishonest? Couldn't have been more so if had Lord Archers face on it.

(balsamic vinegar is not all the same. Pease hand in your middle class credentials and leave the building)

TM said...

Still enjoying my diet of Venison Burgers one day and Donner Kebabs the next....

Brockley Nick said...

@TM - precisely.
@MB - unless DB made any special claims about the product, not sure how it counts as dishonest. It's not like the price was a secret. It costs a lot - take it or leave it. People left it.

Rebecca said...

I agree with much of what you say, Ben, but like Mb, I do feel I have to point out that balsamic vinegars are most definitely not all the same!

Anonymous said...

All bottles of wine above £6 are the same quality. How about that one?

Brockley Nick said...

Rebecca, the Balsamic claim was mine. Ben would probably disagree violently with me, but I stand by it!

Fattyfattybumbum said...

What a well written piece Nick!

max said...

Nick, and yet you fail on the same sword:
"all balsamic vinegars taste basically the same"

You can't say that and then say that food is culture.
Balsamic Vinegar is one of the peaks of food culture.

In fact in its region of provenance a cask is gifted to the newborn children and kept on their behalf in the consortium cellars where they can go and draw some for the rest of their lives.
I have friends of my age that have a cask with their names and I have tasted their 40 year old balsamic vinegar, believe me, it's got nothing, absolutely nothing to do with what you buy in supermarkets.

99% of the balsamic vinegar on sale is not balsamic vinegar at all, only a rip off of the name of a great product after the consortium for balsamic vinegar failed to protect their product name.

The real balsamic vinegar is a spectacular and precious thing, it is very expensive and it is only produced in a limited amount, so limited in fact that it could never be stacked in supermarkets in the way you see it.

If you see that a tiny small bottle cost less than £15 then it's almost certainly rubbish.

BrockleyKate said...

Speaking as a fully signed-up member of Brockley's middle class, I have to add to the voices telling you that you're wrong about balsamic, Nick.

Maybe Ben should chain you to a stall at Brockley Market and subject you to a forcible food re-education campaign.

DJ said...

I think the 'dishonest fare' guy just had an aneurysm.

Brockley Nick said...

Max, that's a lovely story about balsamic vinegar culture. But I remain to be convinced that the taste is significantly different. However, if you want to treat me to some, I will be happy to be proven wrong.

max said...

It'll be my pleasure.

BrockleyKate said...

I smell a feature in this. Balsamic vinegar blind taste-test.

Anonymous said...

Rice in hessian bags is different, but is I think is the kind of thing that brings about the "dishonest fare" concept. That really is paying for packaging, which is understandably disliked.

However, quality meats, well-baked breads/cakes/pastries, good quality (and varied) veg etc. really deserve respect, but are tarred with the same brush, which is very frustrating.

What I also don't get is that if you decorate a place and try to make it look nice, it is immediately assumed that it is a purveyor of dishonest food whereas maintaining the status quo of a relatively unpleasant environment and business model in which a business won't ever succeed long term (e.g. the Wickham) is somehow to be applauded.

I was very entertained by comments after the launch of Brockley's Rock like "at last honest fare and honest prices in Brockley", despite the fact Brockley's Rock is clearly the most artisan chippy in Greater Brockley and actually fairly expensive... I don't think the honest fare brigade honestly know what they think is dishonest.

Brockley Ben said...

I'd like it on record that I have no particular Balsamic axe to grind. Hardly use the stuff.

But MB's point is illustrative of the point. I don't think it's dishonest to market produce at a premium. No more than any other marketing is dishonest (and as someone who works in marketing I'm aware that this asking for trouble). I do think it's pointless and that anyone who falls for it is an idiot – but is it dishonest? It's rice in a bag. You can see what you're getting and decide if you think it's worth it.

The fact that Dandelion Blue is no more, despite the apparent appetite for quality and/or premium fare suggests that they did overstep the mark but I think what they were doing was misguided rather than dishonest.

Mb said...

Buy some ham from Moons at Brockley Market for an example of great produce.

Agree about the Organic lable. Its misleading at best. Good, safe food with minimal environmental impact may or may not be organic. Man has been using science and technology to increase yields and improve quality since he realised he could selectively breed his crops.

Tim said...

Can we not legitimise the "honest fare" muppet by having a debate on it?

PS, Nick, you've had a mare on the Balsamic front

Brockley Nick said...

@BK - I'm up for that.

Mb said...

Misguided, it was misguided rice.

Blue Sky said...

Phew, I'm glad people have already taken Nick up on the balsamic point. I was having palpitations. Nick, you have obviously never tasted really good genuine balsamic! Saying all balsamic is the same is like saying all wine basically tastes the same - ridiculous. The production of proper balsamic is a skilled and very long process and real true balsamic can only come from Modena and Reggio Emilia. It has to be matured for a minimum of 12 years in 7 barrels made from different woods. This is NOT what you buy in the supermarkets, as Max has explained.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tim - bit late for that. BC readers have been debating honest fare for months / years.

Re: Balsamic - I am not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. I also like Dairy Milk chocolate and deep pan pizzas! ;)

Rebecca said...

Sorry, Ben! Nick, you definitely need to taste some more balsamic vinegars! Some are watery with an overpowering vinegary taste and some are mild but sweet and dense. I would like to treat you to some good balsamic vinegar, Nick, but I can't afford it!

Brockley Nick said...

"real true balsamic can only come from Modena and Reggio Emilia. It has to be matured for a minimum of 12 years in 7 barrels made from different woods. This is NOT what you buy in the supermarkets, as Max has explained."

I didn't say it was the same and I don't deny that there are romantic stories to be told about its production. I said it tastes pretty much the same.

Anonymous said...

great article

Blue Sky said...

@Nick - fine, but challenge conventional wisdom AFTER you've tried the real thing!
Dairy Milk is good; deep-pan pizzas are a travesty. Are you trying to upset all the Italian-food-loving BC readers out there?!

Brockley Nick said...

Max is going to come along to the BC drinks armed with the rarest, most delicate balsamic vinegar, which has been fomented between the thighs of Italian virgins and I am going to bring a bottle of decent, honest £10-15 balsamic vinegar. Only one of us is leaving with our dignity intact. I am prepared to consider that it might not be me.

Anonymous said...

This article was good, honest and fair.

Brockley Nick said...

@Blue Sky - how do you know I haven't already tried the real thing? Admittedly, I have never asked for the history of the bottle I've tried, but I've had lots of different ones from lots of different places, including Italy, and they all taste yummy. Some a bit different to others, but not significantly so.

Don't get me started on coffee and Whisky.

Blue Sky said...

@Nick, they're not romantic stories, they are details of the production process that give the vinegar its unique taste and consistency, which can't be achieved without this process. As Rebecca has pointed out, even without tasting them, the difference between a cheap balsamic and a proper one is evident in their differing consistency. The taste bears no comparison. I think you shouldn't waste your money on balsamic at all, you should stick to chippy vinegar...

Brockley Nick said...

Two different production processes can yield products of similar tastes. For example, the Champagne region is the only place that produces Champagne and Champagne producers will regale you with stories about how the soil quality or the master makers mean that it's a product that cannot be replicated elsewhere, but there are loads of good sparkling wines made in all sorts of places (including Cornwall) that are at least as good and often indistinguishable to all but the most highly trained palette.

Anyway, I'm sorry I find them all delicious :)

Blue Sky said...

@Nick, you're right, I made an assumption that you can't have tried proper balsamic. I guess that's because I can't believe you wouldn't have noticed a significant difference if you had. I enjoy and am interested in food but I wouldn't say I have a particularly sophisticated palate; I have only tried a red-label balsamic (aged for at least 12 years), not a silver label (18 yrs) or gold label (25 years, take out a 2nd mortgage). However, even the red label one (which did come from an Italian supermarket) rocked my world compared with the stuff I'd previously bought.

Brockley Nick said...

@Blue Sky - maybe this is a discussion about price again, in a way. I am sure that there are top-of-the-range balsamics that are more delicious than mid-range ones. Perhaps what I mean is that I regard the difference as marginal and not worth the extra cost. That of course, is matter of personal priorities.

I accept that I am a tightwad with a caveman's palette. I don't regard either of these things as personal virtues.

Blue Sky said...

Mind you, I must be biased (hypocritical?) about the whole vinegar thing (and parmesan), because I do agree with you about champagne. Overrated and overpriced. Prosecco for me, or a nice Cloudy Bay Pelorus... Mmm, is it time to start drinking yet?

Anonymous said...

A caveman's palette? Does that mean you like drawing pictures of horses and bison on cave walls?

Saarf London Bird said...

Balsamic vinegar. Right. Someone get me a KFC and a kebab chaser. Whilst we're at it, I'll pop and offer my support to the Domino's planning application. Good. Grief. 34 comments.

Osh said...

Yours made 35.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - haha, whoops. Palate

Mb said...

Salt. A whole wall of salt at Sainsburys.

Brockley Nick said...

Damnit, salt is a much better example than balsamic! It's all just sodium chloride!

Saarf London Bird said...

@Osh - thanks for keeping it real and keeping me grounded!

max said...

No it's not, I use Grey Normandy Sea Salt from a grinder (not joking).

Mb said...

I have three knds of salt at home. I realise this makes me an idiot.

P. Lain Inglish said...

'ceteris paribus' that's a dishonest phrase if I ever read one.

Brockley Nick said...

@Max - I am happy to be wrong on vinegar, but not bloody salt.

http://bit.ly/t3MscJ

However, research from Cash (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) and consumer watchdog Which? reveals that sodium chloride accounts for nearly 100% of all rock and sea salts surveyed and therefore is just a more expensive way of damaging health. The study found that health claims on labels fuel confusion with nearly a quarter of 1,358 Which? members polled (24%) admitting thinking rock and sea salts are healthier than table salt.

In the study the sodium chloride and moisture content of seven different salt products available from supermarkets and online were analysed – including "posh" salts such as Maldon and Himalayan (Best Care Products) and Saxa table salt. Sodium and chloride combine to form salt (NaCl), the combination of minerals which puts up our blood pressure leading to strokes, heart failure and heart disease and also linked to osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease. Cash said the results show they all contain just as much sodium chloride as each other.

Rock and sea salt cost also cost significantly more than table salt, and nearly half (46%) of Which? members who buy salt said they thought it was worth paying extra for. The study cites a 22-fold difference in price between the premium Halen Môn Pure White Sea Salt at £1.80 and Saxa Table Salt at 8p per 100g. Fleur de Sel from Zauber der Gewürze, a specialist salt, costs £9.29 per 100g. Despite these huge variations, they are all just as damaging for your health, the study claims.

A Troll said...

Salt Nazi.

max said...

Ok, I'll bring my salt grinder together with the balsamic, you bring the salad.

Seriously, what I use tastes different, it's grey, it's unrefined sea salt.

Saarf London Bird said...

@Nick - Can I borrow your soap box when you've done with it? Ta :-)

Mb said...

Party. ON!

Brockley Ben said...

Salt is just salt? Maybe. But there *are* subtle variations in taste derived from other minerals: sea water has more than just salt in it so it's natural that it might vary from source to source. Enough to justify paying extra? Maybe not.

But the way it is sold is a different kettle of fish. Maldon salt, for instance, which comes in flake form is worth it for that fact alone. There are times when you want to maintain some of the texture of the salt during the eating. You can't get that with fine-grain Saxa (although that's exactly what you should be bunging in your veg water or gravy). It's similar to the difference between grinding peppercorns and using powdered grey/white pepper.

Brockley Nick said...

@Ben - yes, flakes different to granules. Totally agreed. But expensive flakes different to cheap flakes? Nope.

terrencetrentderby said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trB5CSDmf1E

"I Saw You Coming" grocers sketch from harry enfield, mungtastic

overpriced crap from a wicker basket anyone?

nonny mouse said...

The only salt I pay a premium for is the celery salt in which I dip my freshly boiled quails' eggs.

crunchy salty goodness said...

I use Maldon because I like the crunchy texture - a box costs about £2 and lasts me for approx a year, this doesn't seem that expensive to me but maybe i don't use a lot of salt?
re balsamic, they do taste a bit different but i'll use cheap vs expensive in different ways. I got a really nice bottle for a present which I used straight onto things without anything else, lovely. Cheaper stuff i'll mix into a dressing with olive oil to add some sweetness, also lovely.
I'm very much on the prosecco side of the fence too (Aldi do a lovely one)
I would also like to point out that 6 eggs at Brockley market will cost you £1.00 - that is almost half the price of tesco eggs, hardly dishonest...

Bea said...

However, Wicki says

"Fleurs de sel contain more mineral complexity than table salt. The following is a chemical analysis of Flos Salis,[2] a Portuguese fleur de sel:

Mineral Quantity
Sodium Chloride 94.3 - 97.6%
Calcium 0.19 - 0.20%
Magnesium 0.42 - 0.79%
Potassium 0.22 - 0.67%
Iron 8.0 - 11.1 mg/kg
Iodine 0.5 - <3 mg/kg

and

Fleurs de sel are moist salts. Flos Salis, for instance, contains from 5.4 to 8.1% residual moisture while others can reach upwards of ten percent. Because of this, fleurs de sel do not dissolve when sprinkled on a moist food: they retain their crystal structure, giving a slight crunch to the food as well as a slight shimmer.

Due to the small size of the crystals, fleur de sel dissolves faster than regular salt when used in cooking. Hence it is best used as a finishing salt by sprinkling it over food just before serving. The crystals of fleurs de sel are irregularly sized and shaped and so dissolve at different rates in the mouth, giving several phases of salting.

So I would argue that despite the Which report not all salt is the same or tastes the same!

And the one I have from Degustation really does taste different.

Saarf London Bird said...

*Moves to Clapham*

iMung said...

I think you've got too much time on your hands Nick - you need a proper job

Anonymous said...

Oh noes! Some people like food! Some people even see gastronomy as a bit of a hobby! The end of the world is nigh, barricade the fried chicken shops, the Guardian-reading hordes are coming!

Honestly, the amount of faux-working-class aerated fappery on here about a choice of foodstuffs really is silly. And it comes from people who spend their time hanging out in ridiculously poncy hipster coffee shops, for god's sake! Hypocrisy or what.

Anonymous said...

Oh noes! Some people like food! Some people even see gastronomy as a bit of a hobby! The end of the world is nigh, barricade the fried chicken shops, the Guardian-reading hordes are coming!

Honestly, the amount of faux-working-class aerated fappery on here about a choice of foodstuffs really is silly. And it comes from people who spend their time hanging out in ridiculously poncy hipster coffee shops, for god's sake! Hypocrisy or what.

Anonymous said...

Salt is salt the same as eggs are eggs, but a fool and his money are soon parted, to be replaced by a twee bag and a ribbon.

Welcome to 2012 said...

"Salt is salt the same as eggs are eggs"

No.

Your choice of what salt to buy doesn't determine whether an animal is kept in barbaric conditions or not.

Salt's flavour and quality isn't affected by what you feed it.

Tamsin said...

This has been extremely interesting. I will duck entirely out of the vinegar question because I only use it when I chuck some Sarsons (anyone else recall the smell of the factory that used to be by the railway track on the way in to London Bridge?) on my occasional chips.

However for the rest, salt, meat, bread etc. it is a matter of degree - whether the premium in money or time is worth the increase between good and super-excellent. I remember seeing a cookery programme with one of the TV chefs telling you how to produce a super-excellent steak. It actually seemed a terrible amount of extra hassle and time and care and work to make a marginal improvement. When a decent bit of meat cooked with care in butter is delicious enough.

Some goods are worth the premium - strawberry jam, marmalade and museli come to mind - others are not - like bread flour. Buy a basic white (it is after all a staple - like the rice which started this conversation) and make things interesting by adding a bit of granary, rye, organic nettle etc.

But a good article and sensible discussion - thanks.

Mb said...

Eggs are not eggs, but rice in a twee bag is (or more accurately I SUSSPECT was) just rice.

Wish I'd never mentioned the ambiguous rice.

Egg hair splitter said...

@crunchy salty goodness, 6 medium free range eggs at tesco are currently £1.25 so not nearly twice the price; they also sell Farm Pride free range eggs for 89p. But I buy y eggs from the market whenever I can anyway as they're fresher.

Wendy said...

What a Carve Up is a great book. You will never eat a battery egg again if you read it!

NAT said...

There's clearly a deal of difference between a salt and battery eggs.

Mersham Games 6 for a quid at Brockley market is fabulous value given their flavour.

Cluck said...

Even if you're an utter shit who cares nothing for animal welfare - free range, fresh eggs just taste nicer. Anyone who says different has no taste (or is just a liar).

crunchy salty goodness said...

@Egg hair splitter said... Yes, but in the tesco I end up in most often (the crappy mini one on Lewisham way/wickham rd end) 6 large free range eggs are at least £1.75 (although they sell tins of tomatoes for 98p so their pricing is obviously well over the top!)

nonny mouse said...

@Cluck - it's so long since I knowingly ate a battery egg I don't know if they taste different. However, someone gave me eggs their own hens had laid and they definitely tasted better.

The real bugger to avoid is eggs used in other food products, e.g. fresh pasta.

Tamsin said...

Maybe as boiled (you can't actually hard boil a really chicken-fresh egg) scrambled or ommelette, but do you notice it in a cake? But there is the whole welfare business as a separate issue.

Once had a goose egg. And only once. Massive, but the texture was really strange. Like I imagine powdered egg would be like.

Saarf London Bird said...

Can anyone recommend a good salt to sprinkle on my foie gras & veal sandwich? Ta.

Anonymous said...

Danish Laeso Salt will really bring out the depth of flavour in the veal and foie gras.
http://www.saltsyderiet.dk/

mb said...

salt from the tears of disapointment as Lou realises I'm correct about almost everything.

Anonymous said...

Foie gras and veal would be minging in a sandwich. Shows how much you know!

Saarf London Bird said...

@Anonymous 14:29 - Irony darling, irony. It wasn't about demonstrating knowledge. There are others on here who are far more capable of being a foodie. It was a little humour. Wasted on you, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Were can I get his Irony? is is free range?

Saarf London Bird said...

Alas no. The only irony is bitter, twisted, caged, devoid of all rights with the key thrown away and fed on bitter sweet herbs mixed with Tesco salt and onion vinegar.

Anonymous said...

Not funny, though, sadly. Just a sad effort at reverse snobbery.

Saarf London Bird said...

Ah well. I do what I can. Alas, I'll never be a clever comedian. Still, the kids laugh at my jokes, so I'm happy!

This anon said...

Other Anon, did you seriouslyt think she was or was likley to tuck into a veal and Fois Gras sandwich? Really?

I'm surprised you learnt to walk on your hind legs to be honest.

(for the avoidance of doubt, this is not irony or reverse snobery. It's me laughing at your stupidity)

Anonymous said...

How many anons are there here?!

Anonymous said...

We are legion....or should that be 'I' am legion?

Saarf London Bird said...

@This anon :-)

max said...

This is the thing:
http://www.the-natural-choice.co.uk/Celtic-Grey-Sea-Salt-1Kg.html

max said...

BTW Nick, the article you linked is entitled "Gourmet' salt is no better for your health than table variety, study finds", and I don't dispute that, I only say it tastes better, not that it's any healthier.

Brockley Nick said...

@Max - fair enough, but it also says that chemically it's the same stuff, with the same concentrations of sodium chloride and other minerals. Given that salt is nothing but crystals of sodium chloride and minerals - that would suggest that it also tastes the same.

max said...

Well it happens that in this case those traces of whatever it is that this salt has the other doesn't are pleasantly detectable by the palate.

Brockley Nick said...

i don't believe that :)

max said...

Bring on the salad!

free-range foodie said...

Just shows, some trolls are not anonymous.

Anonymous said...

"The real bugger to avoid is eggs used in other food products"

AFAIK, Waitrose only uses non-battery shell egg in their own brand products, and IIRC they pledged to stop selling any products that contain battery eggs.

The *REAL* bugger is to avoid battery egg products used in NON-food products (shampoo, skincare products, beer, pet products).

Danja said...

the same concentrations of sodium chloride and other minerals

It doesn't actually say that. It says that within 5% confidence, they contain the same amount of NaCl - so their results actually showed NaCl of between 91% and 104%, which when subjected to the whopping 5% confidence level is all the "same" (oh apart from one which had more water in it apparently).

Amazingly precise this science business, sometimes.

It did no analysis (at least reported on the CASH news release) of the trace elements.

Their only point really was that there is lots of NaCl in all salt and it is still bad for you even if it is fancy.

All they said about the trace elements is there are better (from a pure health perspective) sources than rock or sea salt, because you can get them into you without the excess NaCl.

Brockley Nick said...

Alright, what is the magic flavour-giving ingredient that even in tiny trace quantities is able to overpower salt?

I mean, rather than arguing the toss over confidence in concentration levels, it ought to be easy to explain what ingredient this salt contains that makes its flavour so different?

Max, what's your salt got in it that mine hasn't? I will not accept "minerals" as an answer. Nor anything to do with the memory of water. ;)

NAT said...

Magnesium?, copper? iodine?

Sea salt tastes different to me too.

Mb said...

If its from cornwall there's a chance it may have a trace of poo and Toilet Duck.

max said...

I really don't know what minerals there are there. There are whatever minerals were present in the sea water that left that salt behind, the label doesn't specify behind sea salt.

But, taste aside (which is great), if it's minerals what you're interested in I'd remind that there is an argument for compounds rather than isolated elements.
For example many people believe that squeezed oranges are better than a Vitamin C tablet becasue the vitamis are better assimilated as part of a compound than on their own.

And for the same argument I believe that to grind a bit of ocean over your bruschetta is not like sprinkling sone NaCl over a slice of toast.

Anonymous said...

I was told by a salt producer that Maldon salt is only packed in Maldon. The salt comes from the Red Sea.

Danja said...

I've seen Maldon being made from sea water* which would be a strange thing to import from the Red Sea when there is a whole load of it for free right outside.

I was under ten, so they may have adopted a fraudulent business model in the intervening years.

*in defence of my parents there is not that much else to see around there apart from all the webbed-feet.

max said...

You're right MB, it could also help building up antibodies. Another advantage conveniently glissed over by Which.

Anonymous said...

Posh vinegar may be expensive, but consider the cheap stuff.

Your non-brewed condiment is water, acetic acid and caramel to give it colour.

The acetic acid is the by-product of an Oil refinery.

Now surely there is middling ground Somewhere between the artisanal rustic concocting a special flavour recipe for the benefit of well healed gourmets and the surplus distillations of the petrochemical industry for the chip eating masses.

Once the marketing people get involved, the provinence of what you see being served up is so disguised, it bears little relation to actuality.

There is a case for knowing the truth about where your food comes from and it should not be the privilege of those who are prepared to pay top dollar.

Anonymous said...

What is this hustings for Prime Mungister?

Anonymous said...

"Meat is for the belly and the belly for meat, and both will rot."
St Paul

FrFintonStack said...

"@Egg hair splitter said... Yes, but in the tesco I end up in most often (the crappy mini one on Lewisham way/wickham rd end) 6 large free range eggs are at least £1.75 (although they sell tins of tomatoes for 98p so their pricing is obviously well over the top!)"

"NAT said...There's clearly a deal of difference between a salt and battery eggs. Mersham Games 6 for a quid at Brockley market is fabulous value given their flavour."

There is, predictably, someone on the market thread above claiming everything there is 300% more expensive than Tesco. The idea that independents are more expensive than supermarkets has become so ingrained that people don't even bother to check any more. Probably because they've never used an independent retailer other than a corner shop which are, for legitimate reasons, more expensive.

And yes, the Mersham eggs are fantastic, and amazing value.

Back on topic, the "(dis)honest fare" meme is one of the most idiotic I've heard, and the term, if used without a very heavy dose of irony, invariably marks out the user as a complete pillock, even if, on the very rare change, what they proceed to say doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Nick, "all balsamic vinegar taste the same" when you buy them in a supermarket.

Visit the producing regions and you will think otherwise. Olive oil does not taste the same either...

The fact is that supermarkets spend their time in educating clients to a particular taste, and then they make sure they only cater for that taste.

Mb said...

Hmmm... Not so sure. Supermarkets like to squeeze every bit of spending out of their market, they do have a range. Depends on the supermarket, doubt you'll find the tiny top range but the mid market is well represented.

Anonymous said...

@ Max
But, taste aside (which is great), if it's minerals what you're interested in I'd remind that there is an argument for compounds rather than isolated elements.

Apart from past royalty and emperors, who ever ate isolated mineral elements? And that only in small quantities of gold leaf! Do you eat pure iron or tin? Or even pure iodine crystals?

MalB said...

max said...
This is the thing:
http://www.the-natural-choice.co.uk/Celtic-Grey-Sea-Salt-1Kg.html

Their advert says that the salt contains "a natural balance of more than 80 trace elements".

There are only 80 elements normally recognised as stable. That means that their salt contains at least some radioactive elements as well as dubiously helpful stable elements such as lead. Let us hope that the "natural balance" of these (whatever that may be intended to mean) is, in reality a vanishingly small trace.

Anonymous said...

Mb - supermarkets have a range of prices and bottles, the content is the same.

try this, you may change your opinion:

http://www.nifeislife.com/vinegars-c-78_99.html

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"try this, you may change your opinion:
http://www.nifeislife.com/vinegars-c-78_99.htm"l

£11.50 for a 25cl bottle of organic (sic) balasamic vingar.

I can get three bottles of plonk for that price and 10,000 times the enjoyment.

max said...

@Anon 11:02

That'd be Heston Blumenthal.

MalB

Indeed, there could be wierd stuff in there, and if you're really lucky it'll boost your immune system.
As it's unrefined sea salt it should reflect the content of the sea and if you analyze a sample large enough surely you'd find traces of pretty much anything. I can't see how it could be any different. But I guess pretty much anything ingested in amounts that you'd call traces don't have any substantial effect (unless you're keen on omeopathy of course) so I eat it without any problem.

Anonymous said...

@anon 12.43

The issue here is whether they are differnt in taste but let me show that you are a fool and Supermakets take advantage of you.

Product information for Sainsbury's Balsamic Vinegar Of Modena 4 Leaf, Taste the Difference 250ml


£11.99/unit
£47.96/ltr

Anonymous said...

Well google's targeted advertising is definitely working... just saw an ad for this under the Mung London banner

http://www.saltandgritsolutions.co.uk/

MalB said...

max said...

"Indeed, there could be wierd stuff in there, and if you're really lucky it'll boost your immune system.
As it's unrefined sea salt it should reflect the content of the sea ...."

Not that many elements. Lots of organic compounds though, I would guess, including most of the decomposition products of plastics. Not convinced I want my immune system boosted that way!

max said...

What about the fish soup I made today? Squids, red mullets, mussels and prawns. Mindless self-harm!

max said...

I bought a couple of things in Sainbfury yesterday and went to see the Balsamic Vinegar shelf and found the here mentioned £11.99 250ml bottle.
First of all, I'm sure it's a plasant condiment but on close examination of the label I could see that it has three ingredients, and I'm afraid that's one too many to be a traditional Balsamic Vinegar.
The original Balsamic Vinegar only conteins Cooked Must and White Vinegar - the thickening of the product is performend by time.
This Sainsbury Balsamic vinegar also conteins "concentrated grape must" instead, and although the label says that it's "aged" it fails to say for how long (but it's got a very amusing "tasted by customers" sign on the label).

Brockley Ben said...

There was an interesting article in The Times Magazine on Saturday about olive oil. That whole industry – ripe with cheap oil from all over the place being passed off as premium Italian stuff and largely meaningless expressions such as "cold-pressed" being bandied around to give the impression of peasant farmers lovingly squeezing individual olives by hand – is a massive, cynical stitch-up and certainly does deserve the label "dishonest" (but not the way it's come to be used so lazily on this site).

Honest Fare said...

I rest my case

Brockley Ben said...

@HF And beatifully argued it was too.

Tamsin said...

@ Max - like "Sain - b(****) - fury" as a slip of the fingers. How I sometimes feel there.

Does "tasted by customers" mean that they then spat it out rather than swallowing? Says it all...

max said...

"Tasted by customers" means that nobody reads the labels - and they know it.

Brockley Central Label Cloud