10 March 2011

You are what you eat?

Last night I watched The Great British Food Revival programme on BBC2.  I had no idea that the lovely cauliflower was under threat and when I consulted the programme site on line today, was horrified to see that supermarkets are charging up to £2 per cauliflower.  We have lovely cauliflowers over here and they certainly do not cost that to buy.  The programme really shows what damage supermarket shopping is doing to our culture and health.  Not long ago there was a programme uncovering the grisly details of 'low fat' products.  How many shoppers realise what ingredients and additives are in their purchases that might be marketed as 'traditional' or 'healthy'.  I make my own pesto sauce but could not resist looking at the ingredients on a famous brand.  One of the many ingredients was potato flakes.  Potato flakes!  Traditional Pesto is olive oil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts and lots of beautiful basil leaves and NOTHING else.  Read your labels and discover the world of additives and beyond.

The bread element of the programme was also interesting as I knew supermarket bread was like a wet sponge but had no idea that there was an actual 'method'.  I vividly remember the bread being grilled for toast in the Granada canteen and watching the steam rise off it!!! I am totally spoilt over here as our local village shops get their bread direct from the bakery in the nearby village of Janus.  Wonderful rustic bread or rolls are on offer, plus wholemeal, rye, seeded and in some of the bread shops you can ask for it to be sliced.  There was a postage stamp featuring bread too - can't quite see the supermarket white slice making that can you? The only downside is the fact you can't just have one piece - it is far too moreish!  Here are a few examples:

The bread postage stamp

And now for some bread rolls:

A mixed selection

These brown bread rolls come in this shape or round, oblong or square

Lovely white rolls

On market days there are usually queues by the bread ovens for the wonderful pao com chourico rolls.  Wood baked bread wrapped around spicy chourico sausage.  On a cold, winters day, the ideal thing to keep your hands warm whilst wandering the stalls.

The bread ovens in Sao Pedro de Sintra on a non-market day - queues normal on market day - 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month

Pao com chourico baking

Portuguese rustic bread makes the most wonderful cheese and ham toastie for those mornings when you have missed breakfast.

A 'split your lip' cheese and ham toastie

With all these wonderful breads to choose from, I fail to understand why the British abroad insist on having supermarket, mass produced pap, imported. I wouldn't mind if it were specialist artisan breads but no, Hovis sliced, Warburtons etc.  Sad and depressing.

If these examples have wetted your appetite, try looking at http://www.realbreadcampaign.org/ - a UK based organisation promoting real bread, with recipes and links to where you can buy real bread in your area.

I have to say that when I lived in Malmesbury we had two excellent bakeries in the town.  If I was in the area, I could not resist a visit to Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury.  Now pleased to see that Tom Herbert, the young and enthusiastic 5th generation baker, has now got shops in Nailsworth, Cirencester and Tetbury.  Check out his website at http://www.hobbshousebakery.co.uk/ for inspiration.

Let's keep real bread going and don't forget, check your labels and remember - you are what you eat.

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