Monday, June 13, 2011

Naivety about food

This may be my last entry for a while. I really should be setting up trenches and digging into books for my upcoming exams in September and going to general outpatient clinics next month. So it will mean less time looking at Japanese race queens and US cheerleaders in the foreseeable future.

I also want to keep up my monthly rate of whining about not having a girlfriend.
In recent weeks, there has been two major news stories about contaminated food. In Germany, nearly 2000 people were infected with E. coli from tainted vegetables. I'm not here to speculate which vegetables they were since nobody seems to know the source. Taiwan has been embroiled in a food fiasco recently, with harmful plasticisers being put in a variety of products, from food to skin products.

I marvel at the naivety of people who think this shouldn't happen in today's society. I like to say to those people to wake up, since this has been happening every since we started mass producing in the middle of the 20th century.

With an ever increasing population and the need to cut costs in production, multinational companies will find any way to cut corners, even if those mean less quality assurance. To boost the food production, society has been injecting all sorts of chemicals into animals and vegetable to maximise the yield. Unfortunately no food can escape a contamination scandal.

The first food contamination scandal I can remember was when eggs in UK were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria in the late 1980s. This carried on into the mid nineties, with the BSE scare which made everyone go vegetarian for a little while.

China are not exempted from this kind of controversy. Everybody who lives in Hong Kong generally thinks the quality assurance is China is very poor. How can you account for the fact that most pirated goods come from China. The mainland has been embroiled with the melamine dairy product scandal and a ton more scandals since. Generally, I don't really buy anything from China, even if it is dirt cheap.

From feeding animals antibiotics and chemicals so they can grow bigger to pesticides on vegetables to heavy metal contamination in fish and seafood, everything we eat has something we don't want in it.

You just have to accept - do you want cheap food or do you want quality assurance. You can't have both.

Monday, June 06, 2011

As plain as fish and chips

In the past few years, I've been more immersed in cooking and baking, now that I have more free time in the evenings and weekends. I should be studying but after spending nearly nine years working my arse off for my mediocre medical degree, I think I deserve the opportunity to explore other avenues of pleasure. Some of my friends and work colleagues may have noticed my new found choice of hobby, by the pictures I post up of my culinary creations or even sampling some of my experiments themselves. The most indirect way they have noticed my recent fascination in food is the increasing size of my abdominal girth and my ever expanding cheeks. Clearly it is easier to gain weight than to lose weight.

I have tried all areas of culinary cuisine, apart from Chinese since I have my parents who can provide many dishes in this area. From chicken tagine to miso soup and mostly everything in between, I've tried a fair few recipes with some disasters and some successes. I do go back to my roots (kind of) by trying out typically British recipes, which include fish pie, cottage pie and roast chicken.

Now for all those non-English people out there, I know British food has a reputation of being bland and unoriginal. Even though I don't like nationalism and patriotism, I think I need to stand up for the humble chicken pie and toffee pudding. British cuisine may not be as exotic as Thai or Indian, or as delicate as the French or Italian. It doesn't try to be that way. British food is simple food or what I like to call "comfort food". It's not for ordering at a fancy restaurant. It's suppose to be easy to make at home and fills up your stomach.

Neither do I like people calling British food 'roast meat and potatoes'. To the naive person, what they usually order in most British pubs and restaurants may be roast beef and potatoes with gravy but there is a wide variation of British dishes if you just explore. Calling British food just roast meat and potatoes is like calling Chinese food just rice and noodles, Italian food just pasta and pizza and calling Indian food just curries. Each cuisine has its own variation and it is up to the eater to explore for him/herself the diversity.

So please, give the humble fish and chips a chance. Just don't try the pickled egg.