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Food & Cooking

Change in the Kitchen

When Vice President (ial candidate*) Tim Kaine announced that “Humans don’t like change” he overlooked the fact that actually we introduce, create and endorse change all the time. In the political sphere, the Ancient Greeks created democracy but the right to vote was limited to a very select and limited group. In the nineteenth century, democracy in Britain began to include a wider range of voters but still only half of men were eligible to vote.

By 1918, all men were enfranchised and the size of the electorate grew from 7 to 12 million. Women were included for the first time but only if they were over 30 years old. By 1928 , women’s rights had changed again and came in line with their male counterparts: both could now vote if 21 or over. This changed yet again in 1960 when the age was lowered to 18. Even today, convicted serving prisoners are not allowed to vote and there is a movement to lower the age limit to 16 so the meaning of “universal” suffrage is constantly changing.

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Under The Plate of Fruit & Veg

Before the Second World War and right up to the late 1960s, most of the fresh fruit and vegetables consumed in this country were grown here and harvested seasonally. Strawberries appeared at this time of year just in time for Ascot and Wimbledon, ready to be doused in lashings of cream.

The asparagus season has always been short: it started in May and whilst featured on restaurant spring menus, asparagus slipped into our kitchens often to be over boiled, ending up rather mushy. Jersey Royals were anxiously awaited at the end of April and were greeted just as enthusiastically as the French welcome their Beaujolais Nouveau in November. Some produce such as potatoes and apples have long been safely stored to give almost year round availability Continue reading →

The Secret’s In The Holes

It’s wonderful to discover that it takes a Yorkshireman to invent a new way of making a great tasting cup of coffee. George Sowden was born in Leeds in 1942 and studied engineering before architecture. He was more likely to drink a strong brew of tea or a pint of bitter than a cappuccino but after living in Italy for more than forty years, he turned his attention to making a perfect full flavoured cup of coffee.

He had admired the English teapot which has been pretty much unchanged since the days of Josiah Wedgwood in the mid eighteenth century. The teapot is a wonderfully flexible piece of equipment that doesn’t need instructions on how to use it and makes a cup of tea just as you want it. As much as you like, as strong or as weak as you want and at the temperature that suits you. To George, it was bewildering that there wasn’t a comparable easy coffee maker. Continue reading →

Renaissance Pause

HAL-Rise-Table-Wood-TableIn the theatre, we still are allowed the luxury of intervals. The’ve generally vanished from cinemas but during plays, opera productions and concerts, the breathing space in the middle of  the programme provides the opportunity for a partially thawed ice cream, a luke warm soft drink or a pre-ordered and generally over priced glass of wine.

They used to be called intermissions but the origins of these programmed interruptions are considerably grander than the occasions that they have become.

In Italy, during the Renaissance, the dukes and the wealthy merchants Continue reading →

Home, Home On The Range

sarpaneva-potPeople mistakenly think that nomadic tribes just aimlessly wander about their countryside. In fact, they tend to follow established routes, arrive at specific places at certain times of the year and can stay there for extended periods of time. These routes are often determined by the weather when it is necessary to move to warmer, drier terrain or when it is better to move to high or low ground. Sometimes the routes lead to traditional meeting places where extended family groups gather together to celebrate cultural and religious occasions Continue reading →