Top News
Check latest news Read →

Food for thought

  • Posted On: 11th June 2013
  • By:

Gone are the days of Fish & Chips, Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding and Apple Crumble. Over the last 10 years, the British palette has been transformed by numerous culinary influences from the world over. The most amazing feature of the show was the concerted effort made by food and supermarket chains; by restaurants; by the press; by producers, large and small; and by the government through the sponsorship of celebrity chefs and exciting displays in order to draw the interest and attention of visitors that thronged the aisles and the galleries.

The Cookery Experience, sponsored by Sainsbury’s, hosted an all-star line-up of celebrity chefs who offered demonstrations, sharing recipe insights and tips, at the Special Icons Sessions from Heston Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson, James Martin and John Torodo. Blumenthal gave an hour long talk on how to capture the memory of Christmas, the biggest British festive meal of the year and how creativity can tripper our senses of sound, touch, sight, smell and taste. Nigella Lawson, the kitchen queen, shared her views on how to create a variety of seriously delicious Christmas cookies.
The Restaurant Experience, sponsored by Penfolds Wines, brought together 10 of London’s top restaurants, offering the participants the opportunity of sampling signature dishes and tasting unique wines. With the array of tantalising menus from an assortment of exciting culinary traditions, one was spoilt for choice. Some international restaurants represented were Smith’s of Smithfields, Thai Blue Elephant, La Porte des Indes, Sumosan and Refettorio.
The Producer Village, sponsored by the Evening Standard and situated at the gallery level, celebrated all that is great about British food. The whole area was transformed into a huge farmer’s market, featuring Henrietta Green’s FoodLovers Fair and Slow Food.
Slow Food UK is a movement which promotes food that is wholesome, clean and fair. It spreads taste education, upholds standards and defends biodiversity, connecting producers with co-producers and engaging the youth.
Storm in a ‘cuppa’

The British taste for their favourite teas, such as the traditional English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Assam and Darjeeling, etc. is also being challenged by a host of new ‘teas’. Beyond the mint tea, the jasmine tea and the herbal teas, a whole new range of teas are being launched. A new company called Tiny Teas Ltd. is introducing more tea types, such as Chilli Mango, Berry Blast, Jasmine Bloom, Orange Ginger Sencha, Ollong Teas, White Teas, Rooibos Teas and Fruit Tisanes. ACS Fine Foods also displayed their revolutionary organic teas in infuser bags. They claim them to be caffeine-free and high in healthy antioxidants. Another company, Emeyu, is pioneering a new tea culture committed to taste, health and balanced living. They claim that their loose leaf teas are inspired by the ancient origins of tea and sourced from the most distinguished tea gardens in Asia. Some 20 different types with exotic names were on display.

Outstanding culinary contributors
The influences on British cookery were out in force at the Show. Says Levi Roots, inventor of the Caribbean ‘Reggae Reggae Sauce’, “My sauce has been selling at the Notting Hill Carnival for over 15 years, to which I have added more sunshine and introduced two more: Love Apple Tomato Ketchup and Fiery Guava Caribbean.” His stand was crowded with visitors; tasting, questioning and buying his products.
Chocolates, cakes, biscuits and cookie manufacturers had taken up over a quarter of the show. An Austrian liqueur company that produces the famous Mozart liqueur and chocolates was dishing out the Mozart chocolate balls in profusion. Germany’s Ritter Sport, which comes in 13 different styles, has introduced a new square chocolate with hazelnuts, packaged in a snap-open pack. Their products are made from three different types of cocoa with natural ingredients and no artificial colours or flavours.
A whole new section was dedicated to a full range of ‘gluten free products’ – bread mixes, breakfast cereals, chocolates, pasta, pesto, pizza mix sauces, muffins, marinades and more… Leading companies are Drossa, Gluten Free from Finland and Bakery on Main. There were also allergy-free products, free from wheat, dairy products, eggs and low in sugar content.
A Taste of Turkey is a family business for centuries, purveyors of traditional Turkish Olives and Authentic Turkish Delight (Lokum). They displayed an amazing variety of black and green hand-picked olives from the Gimlik region, situated south of Istanbul. Their Lokum contains no gelatine or animal products, made with fruit sweeteners and low sugar content.

Two varieties of new sweeteners in inverted bottles produced 100% from apples, grapes and carrots were presented by a new UK company called Freedom. These sauces, which are free from artificial sweeteners, GN, chemical additives and enzymes, can be used for tea, coffee, deserts, ice creams, sauces, marinades and any dish requiring a touch of sweet.

The most outstanding contribution made to changing the British palette has to be the the ‘Indian Curry’ flavour. They certainly created a ‘stir’. The company Masala’s sauces stood out from its competitors. Not only do they claim to have genuine Indian ingredients, free of wheat, gluten and animal extracts, but that every pack bought contributes to donate a meal to a homeless person in India. Curry pastes and sauces from several UK-based Indian companies abounded at the show. They came in all shapes and sizes – from small plastic packets to sophisticated sachets. Indeed, one company, which shall remain unnamed, went as far as suggesting, ‘Curry Makes a Tasty Christmas’. They suggest a curried turkey, curried vol-au-vent, curry pasties and spicy curry dips for the festive season! One has to admire the Indian bravado.
Sadly, Pakistan, the real home of good food, did not feature anywhere – not among the restaurants, not among the stalls, nor among the exhibitors. Even in the London telephone directories, restaurants such as Café Lazeez, Shezan and others are listed under the ‘Indian label’. That Indian and Pakistani cuisines are one and the same, is the general belief. That is, of course, not the case. After all French and Italian cuisines, both European, are not bracketed in one, although they are in many ways similar.
Just as there is no representation of a Pakistani Cookbook in the World Gourmet Cookbook Awardswhich takes place earlier every year and has entries from 127 countries, The BBC Good Food Show did not house a single Pakistani company. Nature has endowed Pakistan with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, meats, game and herbs. Pakistan’s cuisine too, is known for its variety, richness, presentation and taste. Furthermore, we are noted for our welcoming hospitality and generosity. Can we then hope to be among the Cuisine Oscar winners in the coming years? The Best in the World?

Leave A Reply