Monday, August 5, 2013

All the food that's fit to eat

We were confronted simultaneously, the morning, with two front-page news items about food, one of which was disastrously negative, and the other, amazingly positive.

First, the bad news. The presence of a dangerous bacterium, capable of inducing botulism, has been detected in products from the New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, obliging China to reject powdered milk supplied by the French Danone company, which processes Fonterra raw milk.

Meanwhile, in London, the world's first artificial hamburger—created by the team of Professor Mark Post—was served up to two privileged tasters who had financed this astronomically expensive research project.

For the moment, I don't think it's all that important to know whether this prototype stuff was edible, and whether it did in fact taste like real beef. The thing that counts above all is that researchers have indeed imagined and started to test a process for transforming stem cells into laboratory meat. Even if it takes years before artificial hamburgers can compete effectively with the real stuff, the project is so fabulous that the time and effort will be justified in the foreseeable future.

Over the last fortnight, at Gamone, I've been experimenting with a Greek recipe for moussaka comprising ground lamb cooked with red wine and spices, grilled eggplants and zucchini, and a thick white sauce incorporating lots of shredded goat's cheese. Back in the old days, before people got around to serving up shit food, I used to appreciate this dish greatly, but I wouldn't feel comfortable about purchasing it these days, neither as a pfrepared dish in a supermarket, nor in a restaurant... because you can no longer have confidence in what you might be eating. So, the ideal solution is to learn how to prepare it myself. And I must say that the first results are totally convincing. On the other hand, in the case of a dish such as moussaka (or lasagna) in which the meat is present in the form of a thick sauce, I can imagine that a successfully-engineered variety of artificial meat would be perfectly acceptable.

I've already pointed out in my blog that I consume a large quantity of pizzas, which I prepare and bake here at home. There again, I would no longer think of purchasing any kind of commercially-available pizza, except maybe in a reputed Italian restaurant. A recent TV program explained all the cheap and nasty shortcuts that the pizza industry employs in order to minimize the cost price of this product, including the use of some kind of fake "cheese". When I make a delicious pizza at home, I'm aware that the price of my raw ingredients (without attempting to evaluate the costs of my cooking operations) is already at least twice as much as what I would pay for a take-away pizza. So, there's a mystery somewhere along the line...

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