Festival de la Poutine: Quebec celebrates cheesy fries, gravy and music

At the event, restaurateurs compete to be named the best poutinier, adding unusual ingredients like shnitzel and salted caramel to the signature dish“Poooutine!” screamed the rapper in the Brooklyn Nets jersey. “Pou-pou-poutine!” a crowd of thousands shouted back.A good MC knows how to motivate a crowd, so when Acadian hip-hop duo Radio Radio sought to pump up the audience with a call-and-response during its set in Drummondville, Quebec, on Saturday, it invoked the name of a concoction of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. That’s how you rock the party at the Festival de la Poutine. Continue...

Why you should forget ‘nutraceuticals’ and focus on a healthy diet instead

Probiotic burritos and collagen beers are just two of the more unlikely ‘miracle foods’ to emerge in recent years. The food industry says nutraceuticals are the key to transforming our health – but the truth is far murkierThere’s no evidence that the father of modern medicine Hippocrates ever said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Some debate whether he’d even have agreed with the sentiment. Nevertheless that Facebook-friendly quote has become the motto for a whole industry of what’s become known as “functional foods” or “nutraceuticals”.By now most people are aware of the cholesterol-fighting stanols and sterols that are added to margarines and yoghurts, plus the omega-3, the “friendly bacteria” that, according to their manufacturers, can do everything from make us cleverer to boost our immune system. In the last five years, though, two seemingly contradictory movements have swept through the functional food industry. One is that ever more nutraceuticals have emerged. Everything from beer laced with collagen (it’s supposed to be good for your skin) to burritos with added probiotics. Yet, at the same time, European food authorities have restricted the claims that manufacturers are allowed to make. Do any of these so-called miracle foods, then, actually work? Continue...

Liberate your salads! | Everlasting Meals with Tamar Adler

A salad needn’t – shouldn’t – be dull. They can be made of almost anything you like. So why not do just that and make them with ingredients you like for once?A salad does not need to be a bowl of lettuce. It just needs to provide a tonic to duller flavours, to sharpen a meal’s edges, help define where one taste stops and another begins.Italian salads are often just a single raw or cooked vegetable, sliced thinly and dressed with a drizzle of vinegar and olive oil. In France, they are happy little mops of celeriac, doused in vinegar and mixed with crème fraîche and capers. In Greece or Israel, salads might be cucumbers and mint, or roasted aubergine, or spiced boiled carrots. There is a delicious Palestinian salad made only of preserved lemons, roughly pureed, and eaten cold with warm pitta bread. Elizabeth David suggests, after her lament about her native England’s bad salads, “a dish of long red radishes, cleaned, but with a little of the green leaves left on”. Continue...

The farmer who’s starting an organic revolution in Cuba

Fernando Funes Monzote’s theories of ‘agroecology’ bear fruit as he aims to inspire others to make the most of their landLike all homestead stories, Fernando Funes Monzote’s starts with an epic battle against harsh elements and long odds. Funes, a university-trained agronomist, settled on a badly eroded, brushy hillside outside Havana four years ago and began digging a well into the rocky soil. The other farmers nearby thought he was crazy, or worse – a dilettante with a fancy PhD whose talk of “agroecology” would soon crash into the realities of Cuban farming.Funes had no drill, so he and a helper had to break through layers of rock with picks and hand tools. Seven months later and 15 metres down, they struck a gushing spring of cool, clear water. “To me, it was a metaphor for agroecology,” said Funes, 44, referring to the environmentally minded farm management techniques he studied here and in the Netherlands. “A lot of hard work by hand, and persistence, but a result that is worth the effort.” Continue...

What can a South Sudan brewery teach us about business in conflict zones?

Done well, corporate investment in volatile countries but can have a positive impact - but companies need to first understand the risksSABMiller’s brewery in South Sudan is struggling and may face closure within weeks. This news is perhaps not surprising. Ethnic tensions and political discord have plagued the region for decades. Since civil unrest resurfaced in December 2013, over 10,000 people have been killed and 2 million displaced. Inflation and raw material shortages have also soared. The global brewer, which owns brands such as Pilsner Urquell and Foster’s, is unusual in choosing to invest in South Sudan, a country so unstable that it’s been described as a “war economy”. While SABMiller did not wish to comment for this article, it’s not unreasonable to presume its decision to invest in Sudan was motivated by economic interests: consumers the world over like beer, and, in South Sudan, a 25-year ban on alcohol ended shortly before SABMiller invested six years ago. Continue...