Gastropod

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Indy Lifestyle Online
EBURY MATHIOT, the drinks distributor, has every reason to be grateful to Cacilie Rohwedder, staff reporter on the Wall Street Journal. She has given one of its products a much-needed fillip by writing an article about the craze among German teenagers for the nasty, red, over-sweet fizzy drink called Red Bull.

This so-called 'sports drink' is made by a small Austrian company (22 employees) and contains so much caffeine and artificial sugar that health officials in Germany were loath to approve it. Ironically, the fact that it was already sold in Britain (with conspicuous lack of success) meant that, under European Union single-market regulations, the Germans could not keep it out. So it has been crossing the border by the pallet-load. Eager to test its ability to keep you go-going until the cows come home, German disco crowds have spent dollars 31.5m on Red Bull in six months.

The Wall Street Journal story was obviously studied carefully by investigative reporters at the London HQ of News International, who combed the country for evidence of Red Bull abuse. It did not take them long to find the source: Ebury Mathiot, which has been trying to sell the stuff for more than a year. Thanks to a report in last Monday's Today newspaper, another expected in tomorrow's Sunday Times, and even this small item by the Gastropod, Red Bull could become the taste of the month.

THE Gastropod's readers may not be aware that Michael Winner, the all- too-fallible film maker, is employed by the Sunday Times as a restaurant reviewer. His opinions get right up the nose of restaurateurs, but supposedly provide good copy.

Mr Winner has upset the culinary establishment by attacking its heroes, most notably Michel Roux of the Waterside Inn and Paul Gayler of the Lanesborough, and by being particularly pally with gastronomy's young turk, Marco Pierre White. Late tomorrow night on LWT, The Restaurant Show (12.40am; not shown in other ITV regions) dedicates a segment to the Winner phenomenon and interviews a disgruntled Antony Worrall Thompson, among others. Mr Worrall Thompson has taken to putting up posters in his establishments that feature a photograph of Mr Winner's face with the caption: 'Not Wanted'.

But Torquil MacLeod, the proprietor of Kartouche, a new restaurant in Fulham Road, London, eloquently refutes a slating in one of Mr Winner's columns, and says his business has not suffered from the adverse publicity. Nor has Mr Worrall Thompson suffered from Mr Winner's scribblings; indeed, he is getting publicity by picking a fight with the man whom the restaurant establishment loves to hate.

Members of the public (ie anyone who does not either run a restaurant or review them) might wonder what the point of the programme's item is. All would have been clearer if the production company's lawyers had not given a fair amount of assistance with its editing.

NOT for nothing is the Gastropod's distinguished colleague, Sophie Grigson, known as the 'Carrot Queen'. Viewers of her television series will be familiar with her colourful earrings in the shape of dangling carrots; the Gastropod can only fantasise about a matching, 24-carrot tiara.

One of the reasons Ms Grigson is so fond of carrots is that she knows there is no better source of beta carotene. This is effective in combating the free radicals produced by environmental pollution, and also promotes a good suntan. Most importantly, it is converted by the body into vitamin A, without which we would go blind.

There are millions of children around the world whose sight is impaired because their diet is deficient in vitamin A, although pounds 15 buys enough of it to protect 90 children for life. Sight Savers is a charity that exists to help them, and Sophie Grigson supports it. She has produced recipes using carrots, including carrot jam. The recipes, plus further information, are available from: Sight Savers, Grosvenor Hall, Bolnore Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 4BX.

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