Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Sticky Stuff

Q: What has a Mayan safe-guarded Mexican rainforest and Oxford Street got in common??
A: They both have an enormous amount of chewing gum there...

In fact, it takes 17 weeks to clean the gum off the length of Oxford Streets pavements.
The Mexicans have however, gone from selling the sap from the Chicozapote trees to global gum manufacturers, and have decided to create something brand new from the chicle (sap).
The first, 100% biodegradable, sustainably farmed, chewing gum has arrived.
The aptly named CHICZA, comes in three flavours: mint, spearmint and lime! It's currently available in Waitrose and the restaurant chain Wahaca.
The good news about the biodegradability isn't just environmental but it also takes the stress out of treading in a great lump of the stuff because Chicza dissolves in 6 weeks...which is also great for kids who insist on swallowing it!

Friday, 10 July 2009


It's not new...but it does seem to need some clarification. This week a PR woman said to me ' yeah, botox is really safe, I mean, it's safer than flouride'. To which I replied, ' you may want to change your comparison because fluoride is scary, bad stuff'. So here is the skinny on fluoride...

Thing is, like this picture of 'Darkie' or re-named 'Darlie' toothpaste, we once thought that was acceptable. We now look back at that with disbelief. We are just a moment away from thinking the same about toothpastes which say 'with Fluoride' as though THAT is a good thing.

It's about 60 years since they started adding fluoride into the water supply and it was in the 1930's that a whole new ad campaign made the populations of the Western World think fluoride was something we needed to make our teeth strong and white.
It was a new time of industry and the copper, iron and aluminium smelting plants were big business (if you recall all our pans used to be made of aluminium until they connect it with alzheimers and it is now noted that alum in deoderants has all kinds of bad side effects...aluminium and human ingestion are not happy bedfellows!) but they didn't know what to do with all the by-products of the process and after using it as rat poison and insectacide, some good PR and a goverment incentive created...Fluoride - good for cavities, good for your teeth...pictures of happy smiling kids and voila!

The masses of scientific research over the years show the link between fluoride and all kinds of health problems. Once example was in 1990 when a National Toxicology Program (NTP) study determined fluoride could be a cancer-causing agent. The NTP study “supplied a detailed description of the toxicology of fluoride, not only in terms of osteosarcoma, but also lesions in the oral mucosa, thyroid gland, skin and uterus…(which) prompted us to re-test the hypothesis of an epidemiological association between water fluoridation and cancer incidences…”, they found fluoridation status positively correlated to cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, colon, rectum, hepato-bilary & urinary organs and bone cancer.

The good news is that we have the benefit of almost 70 years of research so armed with this knowledge you can now get decent water filters and also fluoride-free toothpaste... so don't be scared, be pro-active, read the ingedients and vote with your wallet.

Say cheese....

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Old Fashioned Flavours are Back!

The chocolate bar wasn't invented until the 1920's but from the early 1820’s, the UK had developed quite a unique chocolate taste, initially refined by the Fry family and their company (Fry's Turkish Delight!? etc etc) and special flavors. Chocolate was a pricey comodity and came in individual units of dark chocolate, very often combined with strong, pronounced flavors like mint cream, rose & violet cream and ginger. The history of chocolate in Britain is very closely related to the royal family, as it was Queen Victoria who appointed companies like Charbonnel & Walker (1825), Ackermans Chocolates (1919) and Bendicks of Mayfair. Even today, some of these companies remain under royal appointment and still produce the same traditional UK chocolates.

Rose and violet creams with crystalised rose or violet petals on top, seem like an old ladies delicacy of years gone by but such victorian flavours are back and once again becoming best sellers. Fortnum and Mason and Charbonnel and Walker and even newby company Kshocolat are selling they floral morsels.

As the afternoon tea is once again vogue; these chocolates are the old/new sweet treat and the best new gift.
I predict that the wearing gloves and day hats will be back very soon...


You may not want to give up coffee and the thought of a chicory root beverage may fill you with unsavoury retching...but oh my goodness Vanilla Teechino is like drinking hot vanilla ice cream with the added benefit of being super healthy. It is caffeine free, helps mineral absorption, alkalinises the body and is full of potassium. So yummy!

I found my bag of loose teechino in a large US supermarket and first tried to use it like instant coffee...then all the bits ended up floating on the top of the cup...it doesn't disolve. THEN, I used a tea strainer to make it the second time and the bits were so small that they escaped through the holes. Third time lucky...put in individual teabags...it works. Looks like tea, tastes like sugar-coated heaven nectar!

Ok so you like coffee? or even think decaf is better? but just so you know:
Decaf Coffee increases acidity - so people with heartburn, joint pain, arthritus might want to make some changes. Metabolic acidity contributes to demineralization of the bones. The high acidity of decaf coffee increases the risk for developing osteoporosis.
Studies demonstrate that decaffeinated coffee use may be linked to an increase in homocysteine and inflammation, which are all risk factors for heart disease.
Decaf coffee has been linked to increased cholesterol levels, especially in those people who have switched from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee. Decaf coffee has been shown to raise the LDL cholesterol or so called “bad” cholesterol 8-10% in 3 months.

Seems like a few US supermarkets are selling it in various flavours and maybe even in ready made sachets...
Hope you get to try it!

Thursday, 11 June 2009


I was sold some dried jujube in the Culver City market in LA. 'Good for your blood, iron and vitamin C' the stall holder told me. He also said they tasted like dates. They may be related to the date family but they really do not taste like dates. Wikipedia says they taste like apples. They do not taste like apples, either.
Crisp, red and brittle on the outside; the inside texture is not dissimilar to roof lagging. I suppose they taste bland and like a powdery sherbet.
The Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese use the jujube to make potions, teas, medicine, potpouri, love spells...in fact everything from the fresh and dried drupes with a strangely voodoo sounding name.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

King of Fruits

Once described by Stephen Fry as something like 'smelling like the arsehole of Satan but tasting like the sugar-dusted nipple of an angel', durian evokes a strong response in everyone who comes into contact with it.
Illegal in most public places in Asia, due to it's pungent smell, durian is thorny-monster of a fruit, which can weigh upto 7lbs and is a beast to cut open...but oh my goodness it is SO worth it!
Inside, the creamy, glutinous flesh is sweet with a complex flavour of roasted almonds, custard and vanilla. It is intoxicating, not to mention its incredible vitamin and mineral content. Apart from fats, vitamin C and potassium, it is a great source of the illusive tryptophan; one of the key nutrients depleted in depressives, and in natural sources works as a superb mood enhancer.
The way to find a durian fruit that is ripe and ready is when its husk begins to crack, that is when it is at its most pungent and creamy. A big, thick stem is a sign of freshness or the sound of the moving seeds when the durian is shaken. The seeds themselves can be boiled or fried for an aditional yam-like accompaniment.

So, this is what I think, but I don't want to lead you into a false sense of durian-loving, so here are some quotes from the otherside of the table...and I quote:

British novelist Anthony Burgess: Like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.

US chef & author Anthony Bourdain: Its taste can only be described as...indescribable ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother.

Travel & food writer Richard Stirling: ...It's odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.

Well, I'm a fan.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


I have been banging on about the power of smell as a great marketing tool for eons. I always thought that the Orange mobile stores would benefit from having the smell of oranges whafting through them. So, finally someone has developed the ideas of olofactory 'food like' experiences from early 2000's into a viable product. Enter, Le Whif which goes on sale later this month and comes in four flavors: mint chocolate, raspberry chocolate, mango chocolate, and plain chocolate.

It looks like a small, sleek aerosol can in brown and pink and can be tucked away for a secret whiffing binge!

Harvard professor David Edwards, lead inventor of Le Whif, says: "Over the centuries we've been eating smaller and smaller quantities at shorter and shorter intervals. It seemed to us that eating was tending toward breathing, so, with a mix of culinary art and aerosol science, we've helped move eating habits to their logical conclusion. We call it whiffing."( I can't help but think that this name was not developed by an English person!) It was developed at the Foodlab at Le Laboratoire, in central Paris.

I have a sneaky feeling that anyone with an eating disorder will suddenly arrive in paradise with just a couple of inhalations. This could be dangerous...