Food and Drink: Gastropod

THE fit young man in surfing shorts who has been leaping across the pages of your magazines and billboards is about to change into his ski gear. He is Meat Man - lean and healthy, just the kind of image producers of meat would like you to attach to their goods. With the '(M)eat to Live' campaign entering its second phase, you would assume it had been a success. After all, The Meat & Livestock Commission is spending pounds 1.5m on it this year.

The text of the adverts emphasises the nutritional value of eating meat as a rich source of iron and vitamin B (the subtext being that the body needs iron to make haemoglobin and B12 to feel good about itself, whereas vegetarians are frequently perceived as being anaemic, and vegetables contain no B12) and invites those who wish to know more to write in for a free information pack.

When The Gastropod rang the commission to ask what the response to this first generic advertising campaign had been, the answer was, 'We don't know'. It seems that it has yet to produce the brochure which the adverts suggest you write off for.

When the brochure does appear it will carry a quote by Sir David Attenborough, who points out that humans have 'the teeth of an omnivore and the gut certainly not of a vegetarian'.

The commission says that the campaign's main aim is to counteract vegetarian propaganda and reassure carnivores that their diet is perfectly healthy. The ads reinforce the image of meat as fundamentally masculine, but are aimed primarily at women. Not surprisingly, women purchase most meat, because they do most of the shopping, but they are also more likely to be vegetarian.

MORE dietary propaganda comes from Craig Sams, the driving force behind Whole Earth Foods. He has written a leaflet for shops that stock his products claiming that 'eating organically grown food is the practical way you can make a contribution every day to helping the Earth to survive'. Now he has gone further by recording a rap song with the chorus, 'Eat organic - save the planet'.

Controversial lines such as 'the weather round the world, it is getting very strange/ As the Amazon rainforest turns into a cattle range', may be crucial, Craig, but for The Gastropod's money you'll never equal the verbal dexterity of the New York rappers A Tribe Called Quest, whose composition 'Ham and Eggs' advises against the consumption of that popular breakfast on the grounds that it is high in cholesterol. It contains the memorable couplet: 'Asparagus tips looking yum, yum, yummy/Candied yams inside my tummy.'

'TASTING ITALY' is a series of three one-week cookery courses at a country-house hotel in Tuscany next month, hosted by chefs from top Italian restaurants in London. Claudio Pecorari has had to drop out following his appointment as chef at Tiberio, soon to be relaunched, but Maddelena Bonino of Bertorelli's will teach the first week, 12-18 October, and Francesco Zanchetta of Riva will take the second (19-25 October) and third (26 October-1 November). The course aims to develop culinary skills along with buying fresh produce. The sessions take up half the day, leaving afternoons free for trips to Florence and Siena and excursions to local sagras (food festivals) of sausages and wild boar. The cost is pounds 795. For further information, call Sarah Schwartz on 071-627 0475.

THE 1992 Restaurant Show, an annual trade exhibition not open to the public, starts tomorrow at the Business Design Centre in Islington, north London, and runs until Tuesday with a full programme of tastings, demonstrations and seminars. Sunday, the one day of the week that most restaurateurs can take off, promises to be the social highlight, however.

The demonstration kitchen is a new feature of the show, perhaps inspired by the fishmonger Cutty, whose stand last year featured demonstrations by a succession of starry clients, including a virtuoso display by Marco Pierre White. On Tuesday there will be an opportunity to see the new chef of the Ritz, David Nicholls, in action. Tomorrow, Bruno Loubet will be strutting his stuff, but attention is bound to focus on Michel Perraud, one of the most accomplished chefs in the country, who is currently looking for a job.

AS A voracious consumer of chocolate biscuits, The Gastropod has become a confirmed Hob-Nobber, substantially contributing to McVitie's coffers over the years. Now, though, nothing less than Choco Leibnitz butter biscuits, with their thick coating of milk chocolate, will do. Expensive they may be, but Leibnitz lovers will accept no substitute. Except, perhaps, Marks & Spencer's new own-brand milk-chocolate butter biscuits, manufactured by the same German company, Bahlsen, which cost only 89p a packet.

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