Friday, December 18, 2009

What do hungry owls eat in Britain?

It's turned colder, and readers, I've been missing my blog.  But I haven't been cooking without you, I've just not been cooking.  The last few weeks in London, I've been eating out a lot, making really simple dinners (eggs and toast), and not posting new recipes for the blog.

I've had some vegetarian adventures, including delicious East African Asian at Tooting's Kastoori and Mock Meat at Peking Palace.  I also had veggie bangers and mash at s&m in Spitalfields.

The sausages weren't mock meat, but Mushroom and Tarragon and Caerphilly and Leek patties.  Kind of the consistency of falafel.  Really good with the mash and red onion gravy.

I've also come across food in my research.  So many of the community organizations I've been looking at, focus on food as bringing people together.  Or suggest that the food of immigrants is a positive contribution to their societies.  I can't disagree!  This one organization, the Food Information Centre, published this guide for recent south Asian immigrants adjusting to groceries in London.

The brochure says that it is sensitive to the dietary habits of Hindus and Muslims, but their recipe for Kitchidi (rice and lentils, like pongal) includes Maggi beef stock!  Now south asians have a variety of food habits, and many people eat meat, but Maggi beef stock in Kitchidi?!  That's like putting Maggi beef stock in oatmeal.  This organization thought that Indians coming to England were poor and confused, and not getting enough nutrients (and that a vegetarian diet made you weak), and these recipes incorporate a variety of tinned goods (as well as Maggi beef stock) to try to boost nutritional value.  I'm skeptical.

I hope you observant readers noticed the symbol of this organization.  An owl with knife and fork!

I'll have to get a better image of the wee hungry owl.

This will probably be my last post from London.  I leave on Monday for California and Christmas.  Stay tuned, I plan on making a lot of cookies and other things in the next few weeks.  I am already drooling over Martha Stewart's Cookie calendar.

Happy Holidays everyone!  I hope the next few weeks are full of friends and family and food!


  1. Hi Radhika!

    Taking a break from your post! love the little owl!

    In Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, she talked about how when Indians moved to England, some got sick because traditionally cultivated rice from back home may have unintentionally had some insects in it that would have provided protein, but the more standardized and sterile English rice was insect-free (and therefore protein-free). I don't know where she got her information from, but it's a cool story. So maybe some vegetarian Indians were getting sick!

  2. Hi Jorj,

    I don't doubt that it was an adjustment to move to England before the advent of readily findable Indian grocery stores. I just think it's a little condescending to say that ALL south Asians who moved to Britain did so from poor villages and must not be able to figure out new ways of eating.

    Caerphilly is a hard cheese from Wales. It was also one of the words in the 2009 national spelling bee! I think the little speller got it right.