Food and Drink: Gastropod

ORDINARILY staid and notoriously stodgy, the trade magazine Caterer & Hotelkeeper has appointed a new editor, and its publisher has acquired one of the Gastropod's favourite publications, Inside Hotels. Before the effects of these momentous developments can be felt, however, the Caterer's letters page has become required reading as a debate rages over the competence of restaurant critics.

The controversy was kicked off by an article in the magazine discussing the damage a bad review can do to a restaurant's business, and fuelled by restaurateurs' aggrieved reactions to the Sunday Times Restaurant Watch Campaign. First, Nico Ladenis wrote to the Caterer to let the world know that Fay Maschler of the London Evening Standard is banned from all three of his restaurants. Ms Maschler's editor, Stewart Steven, replied by calling Nico a 'spoiled egotist'. Then Jane McAndrew, wife of Ian, wrote to berate Jonathan Meades of the Times, whom the couple continue to blame for the sudden death of their Knightsbridge restaurant, 116.

Reviewers are frequently amazed that restaurateurs take their criticism so seriously, but chefs are famously temperamental and it is hardly surprising if some of them snap when subjected to a bad write- up with no right of reply. Jonathan Meades said in the Caterer's article that he had written 700 or so reviews without being sued, but Mrs McAndrew's letter points out that few small businesses can afford to initiate legal action.

Perhaps the Restaurateurs' Association should retaliate by setting up its own Critic Watch, establish a fund to prosecute the perpetrators of malicious or inaccurate reviews and circulate their descriptions. In fact, some places do this already. David Woolfe, until recently the restaurant critic of Decanter, was once approached by a waiter who asked if he was a critic. 'How did you guess?' asked the startled Mr Woolfe. 'Because we have a rogues' gallery on the kitchen wall,' came the reply, 'and you're in it.'

IN THIS, the European Year of Older People and Solidarity Between Generations, it is as well to remember that old age can happen to any of us and it is important when you are getting on a bit to keep your pecker up by eating right. That is the message of Easy Cooking in Retirement by Louise Davies, published by Penguin at pounds 5.99.

Dr Davies is a nutritionist who began her career in the wartime Ministry of Food, where she was detailed to write a monthly bulletin telling dieticians and home economists how to make the most of what was available on ration. When rationing finally ended, she began a bi-weekly radio spot, telling housewives what to do with the wondrous produce that was becoming available once more. Originally commissioned for a 12- week run, 'Shopping List' became a regular feature of the Today programme for 12 years.

Now well past retirement age, Dr Davies continues to advise various organisations on older people's nutrition, and fully supports the movement toward solidarity with younger generations. The chapter of her book that she most enjoyed compiling suggests recipes for grandparents to have fun with when entertaining children, including such esoteric delights as Hard Boiled Mice and Witches' Cake, made in a cauldron with a secret incantation. The Gastropod applauds Dr Davies's invention and is delighted she has been able to produce such a confection without recourse to the eye of newt and toe of frog.

OLD PEOPLE and food critics are not the only ones who will be profoundly moved by an announcement from the Manna Food Company concerning a product that it claims is considerably better than sliced bread. It is no secret that the body requires at least 1/2 oz or about 18 grams of fibre each day to keep it functioning efficiently, and that those of us lucky enough to be living in the developed world have untold problems as a result of our refined, decadent diet. Since the average rural African, subsisting basically on maize, excretes three times as much as you or I do in a daily bowel movement, it is not for nothing that constipation has been called 'the white man's burden'.

Help is at hand, however, in the form of a laxative fruit loaf, Fibrolux, made by a company called Manna Breads from germinated organic wheat, prunes, figs, apricots, linseed and honey.

A doctor writes: 'I welcome this attempt to put right the nation's bowels, about which there has been too much muddled thinking these last 100 years. Here at last is a concentrated high-fibre food which the colon will love: rapid transit, lots of residue and bowel action to end all bowel actions.'

Manna Breads says the loaf is made with sprouted wheat grain containing proteins and vitamins normally lost in milled wheat flour, and is full of the kind of soluble vegetable fibre that the body can most easily assimilate, not to mention complex carbohydrates. The recipe is allegedly based on that given by God to the Essenes, who lived by the Dead Sea 2,000 years ago. Manna Breads' press release quotes no less an authority on nutrition than Jesus.

The Fibrolux Luxury Digestive Loaf is the fifth in the range of Manna Breads, packaged to give a shelf-life of five months. The recommended price is pounds 1.39 for a 1lb/400g loaf in health-food shops around the country. Safeway will be test-marketing Manna Breads at selected London stores and the Gastropod, already a convert, cannot wait to become a regular consumer.

WITH ONLY a couple of weeks to go until there is once more an R in the month, the Gastropod is also looking forward to what is billed as 'the biggest and most exciting event in the bivalve diary'. The British Oyster Opening Championship, held in London on 2 September, is basically a race to find the fastest shucker of 30 oysters. The winner goes on to Galway to compete in the International Championships at the end of September. In recent years the competition has been dominated by dextrous professionals from London's leading oyster bars, such as Armando Lema of Green's and last year's winner, Sam Tamsanguan of Wilton's. This year the organisers are keen to broaden the field and are looking to the Gastropod to find fresh blood. Are there any slick shuckers out there who fancy their chances?

You will have to be good to win - Sam's average time last year was under 10 seconds per oyster - but you do not have to be that good simply to take part. Potential contestants and wannabe star shuckers should contact Cathy Stuart on 071-371 6466 for an official entry form.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor