Voices

These letters appear in the Monday 14th October edition of the Independent

Ching-He Huang: 'I put seaweed paste on porridge, which is wrong but delicious'

My earliest food memory... Sitting on my grandmother's knee in southern Taiwan, watching her wrap glutinous rice dumplings called zongzi in preparation for the Dragon Boat Festival. The other memory I have is trying avocados for the first time after we moved to South Africa when I was six. My mum's friend came over with two of them and slathered them all over bread. My mum took a bite and thought it was gross but then after [the friend] had left, she fried an egg, put it on top and then put some soy sauce on it. It's still one of my favourite breakfasts.

Beasts and Beauties, Hampstead Theatre, London

I can't remember a better year for soaringly imaginative Christmas shows aimed at the children-of-all-ages market. Following on from the seasonal smash hits at the National, RSC, Royal Court and the Young Vic, the Hampstead Theatre now weighs in with Beasts and Beauties, a wickedly gleeful and gruesome gallimaufry of tales by the Brothers Grimm as reworked by Carol Ann Duffy, dramatised by Tim Supple and Melly Still, and directed by the latter.

Are you getting your oats?: How to make perfect porridge

Porridge used to be a pauper's food – now we can't get enough of it. But should we make it with milk or water, salt or sugar. Or snails?

Leading article: Porridge that pays

It is a fortunate minister indeed, but also a shrewd one, who announces a set of reforms in an unpopular area of policy to almost universal applause. We are talking here not about Iain Duncan Smith, who presented his plan for the most substantial reform to welfare "for a generation" with a disappointing lack of detail, but about the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, who gave the Conservative Party conference an outline of his plans for far-reaching change in prisons. From party stalwarts to officials and prison reform lobby groups, Mr Clarke's plans were warmly received – and rightly so.

Outside Edge: Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny trouble

The inaugural fillies' and mares' race planned for 4 December at the Bundall racetrack in Australia's Gold Coast City has run into a spot of trouble with the sport's state governing body, Racing Queensland Ltd. The idea of women in beachwear bursting from the stalls for a dash down the main straight in the Bikini Track Sprint, first prize £3,000, somehow doesn't appeal to the RQL chairman, Bob Bentley, but the Gold Coast Turf club aren't backing down. Perhaps they should leave the final decision to Gold Coast City's mayor, Ron Clarke, who spent quite a lot of time himself running on a track in skimpy clothing in the 1960s, setting 17 middle-distance world records in the process. No such fuddy-duddy attitudes in Sydney, where last week four sheilas set a world record for the fastest relay race in stilettos, teetering the 4 x 80m course in 1min 04sec wearing 3in heels. Stay classy, Australia.

Half Life, By Roopa Farooki

A Singaporean woman disappears to her past

Pandora: Not Mrs Prescott's cup of tea, surely?

Once upon an election campaign, John Prescott found himself struggling with his temper after an onlooker pelted him with an egg. Now it's the turn of the former deputy PM's photogenic wife, Pauline, to bare the brunt of a grassroots protest.

Nice to See It, To See It, Nice, By Brian Viner

In chapter four, the author explains it was peer pressure that prompted him to a) throw big balls of soaked newspaper from the school bus window and b) watch Top of the Pops.

Consuming Issues: Porridge – a cereal thriller

Over the past two months press releases have been popping into journalists' inboxes with one recurring message: porridge sales have glooped into orbit. Manufacturers and retailers recorded rises of up to 70 per cent during the cold snap when shoppers sought a warming bowl for breakfast.

Voluntary Madness, By Norah Vincent

An American journalist, Norah Vincent made her name with her 2006 account of the year she spent living as a man, a project requiring her complete "immersion" in the experience. It also saw her locked up in a psychiatric ward by her own volition, after a nervous breakdown. Her time in the psych ward occasioned a second bout of "immersion journalism" and this, her second book, about her experiences. What she found was shocking, if not surprising.

The Virago Book of Food: The Joy of Eating, ed Jill Foulston

This mouthwatering anthology caters for every taste: the greedy, the curious, the lonely, the in love... Food spreads itself into many areas of life, and topics covered here in bite-size form are as diverse as kitchen cooking and food as a form of art. "The place I like best in this world is the kitchen," writes Banana Yoshimoto, while Angela Carter's protagonist seeks succour in the "domestic geography" of a new house – identity hinges on a slice of currant cake.

Doc Brown: The Comedy Reserve

As the rapper-cum-stand-up Doc Brown, aka Ben Smith, prepares for his show at the Edinburgh Festival, he tells Julian Hall why comedy is a family affair

'EastEnders' Barry is the new Ronnie

Fresh serving of 'Porridge': Clement and La Frenais bring Norman Stanley Fletcher back for stage show
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game