I got to the food bank a little bit early and there was a young man called Deano outside. He was visibly distressed. A backpack on and a rolled up sleeping bag hung from the bottom: ‘I’m trying to get the Big Issue,’ he said. ‘If I can make enough money I’ll be able to get a b&b. You’ve probably seen me, I sleep in Queens Gardens.’ He went on to tell me how he plans to sign on and get a flat. ‘I can’t live rough for much longer.’ I asked him how old he was. Eighteen. We were both looking for different offices in the building. A volunteer spoke to Deano, advising him to come back tomorrow at nine. ‘Tomorrow at nine,’ he said, before walking away.
Hull Foodbank provides three days worth of food for those in an emergency. All food is donated by schools, churches, businesses and individuals from the area. Hull Foodbank make sure that the parcels are nutritionally balanced and the items they give out are non-perishable. Individuals in crisis are given a voucher which they can redeem at the food bank and offered support, advice and guidance to help them in the long-term. As Sarah puts it: ‘We don’t just give them the food and slam the door.’ Hull Foodbank is also concerned with helping people help themselves. Continue reading →
In the same way that Joseph Fritzl has ruined DIY for a lot of fathers, the self-righteousness and misanthropy of organic extremists is ruining dinnertime. We call natural produce ‘organic’ and genetically modified crap ‘food’. This seems a bit strange. The main problem I have with organic food isn’t the produce, however. It’s smashing. As ever, my problem is other people.
Some modern farming practices are unethical. Intensively rearing chickens isn’t pleasant. For the consumer, that means a cheaper product. A cheaper product, but not necessarily better value when you consider that intensively reared chicken has no flavour, has a higher fat content, and the nutritional benefits are diminished. You can almost taste their misery. Even a staunch vegetarian, as I once was, would agree that these chickens welcome death with both mutated wings wide open. But at the same time, it’s not very sporting to criticise the majority of us who can’t always afford organic meat, even arguing that we should just go without.
I’m not too sure about their ecological arguments either. Food production can never be completely green. And from an economical point of view, mass production should be the greenest way to produce food. I know this must sound like organic bullshit because organic farms have lower carbon emissions than their heartless counterparts. But their yield is vastly smaller and they’re not, by definition, efficient. This can be expressed by the CPC (carbon emissions per chicken) and FLR (farms to Landrover ratio). There’s usually a touch of hypocrisy thrown into the mix too. Most organic health-food shops sell nuts from South America, beans from Africa and spices from India. Just the other day I came face to face with a packet of dried and candied pineapple that had seen more of the world than I have, and at £2.59 for a mere 100g, I was expected to pay for its ticket. Pull the other one, sunshine. Continue reading →
My granddad used to joke that ‘you can eat every part of a pig except it’s squeel.’ The first time he said it I remember being puzzled, and thinking he must be wrong or it must be a joke I just didn’t get. There, there, I almost wanted to say. That was until I got a little older and was introduced to offal.
He was born in 1929, the year of the Wall Street Crash, and passed away last year during another recession, the worst in most other people’s lifetimes. During his life, he witnessed the most dynamic period in human history. World War 2, the Cold War, Margaret Thatcher…And I’m still not sure which he would consider to have been the most detrimental to humanity’s development. My point is, I should have listened the first time and asked questions.
Only fifty years ago, eating offal was a fact of life. We ate less meat and more of the animal. It wasn’t for ecological reasons, or for health reasons. It was purely for financial reasons and the food culture at the time. Because liver and kidneys and hearts and brains and lungs were cheap, we created recipes for them. And now, when most people are looking to save money, when we should be looking towards offal for an alternative to fillet steak or chicken breast, we don’t have the knowledge any more to get the best out of offal. More than that, we’ve lost our appetite for the stuff. Continue reading →
This pasta recipe has a backbone. The ginger, chilli and garlic give it a real punch. It’s quite easy and adaptable too. Very healthy. And it doesn’t take too long to make.
Traditionally, the Italians are very proud of their food heritage and have very strict ideas of how a dish should, and should not, be. More recently, there’s been an increasing Asian influence on Italian cooking and this recipe reflects that.
It’s a basic Alfredo sauce, very similar to my Godfather tomato sauce recipe. This recipe adds ginger, chilli and chicken. Ginger and chicken go very well together. And this recipe calls for thigh meat. Thigh meat is juicier, it has more taste, and it costs less than breast meat. The thigh meat is precooked to save time. When I made this recipe I used cooked chicken thighs from my local Sainsbury’s convenience shop, but using leftovers is even better. Continue reading →
I went to my first burlesque night a few months ago. Beforehand, my knowledge was almost zero. I knew that it was an art, and I knew that it was inclusive of women of all body shapes and sizes. I went to Tigers Lair, the historic Hull pub behind Paragon Station, to watch a showcase by Peek A View Burlesque. It was a great night. It was the first time I’d had a Cheeky Vimto (I ended up having too many, as well as that many shots a barman just kept bringing me them over on a platter). More than that, it was the first time my eyes were opened to burlesque. All of the performers were brilliant. Elegant, seductive. And there was even a special guest…Havanah Hurricane, who blew me away (that’s an expression, not a quadruple entendre.) Continue reading →
‘I don’t just sit at home listening to Dire Straits’ greatest hits,’ Alan Johnson said, laughing. ‘I listen to everything.’
Some of you might remember a documentary about Tony Blair’s rock star aspirations. The documentary portrayed him as a talentless guy who just blagged his way into the band. And journalists often ask senior politicians about their music tastes hoping to prove that they are out of touch with the modern world. Alan Johnson isn’t Channel 4′s portrayal of Tony Blair, nor is he David Cameron who revealed yesterday that he’s looking for a new favourite band now that Morrissey and Johnny Marr have told him not listen to The Smiths anymore. Alan Johnson, guitarist, came very close to landing a record deal and music is still a big part of his life.
At home, he enjoys cooking French food. ‘My speciality is anything French. You spend all day tracking down ingredients. Marinate vegetables for hours and then throw most of it away.’ He respects the importance they place on their culture and concedes that the standard of cooking is higher in France than it is in Britain, ’although we’re catching up.’ It seems like they’re catching up with us too. ‘The kids want Coca Cola now there, and McDonalds. Charles de Gaulle would be horrified!’
Hull’s bid for UK Capital of Culture 2017 is a hot topic at the moment. I asked him if he thinks we will win. Continue reading →
One of us was a little nervous, and it wasn’t Alan Johnson.
It’s always scary meeting one of your heroes. But he’s got a calm confidence that instantly puts you at ease. In the interview, he described Gordon Brown as ‘not always coming across as being comfortable in his own skin.’ This certainly isn’t true of Alan Johnson.
‘Gosh, you really are working class,’ Tony Blair once said to him. Alan Johnson is from a very modest background, but that has never got in his way. Far from it. He told me that his upbringing in 1950s West London was great preparation for politics.
His autobiography This Boy has been very well received and he describes his difficult childhood in detail. This Boy is by no means a depressing book to read. A large part of this is due to the frankness of Alan Johnson’s writing style. He said this was a ‘deliberate ploy not to describe my mother and father as “mother” and “father”, to create distance as though I’m my mother’s biographer.’ He said writing it wasn’t a painful experience. Alan Johnson enjoyed researching it and finding out information from his sister that he wasn’t even aware of. ‘Don’t tell Alan,’ was a phrase his mother would often say to his sister. Continue reading →
I haven’t watched much television since the digital switchover. So when I go to my mam’s I like to watch cookery shows. One thing that irks me about them, and it’s only a small irk, is the number of clichés that famous TV chefs use.
Calling a cake ‘orgasmic’ has been done so many times that ‘orgasmic’ has almost come to mean ‘tastes nice’ in common usage. Neither is it to die for.
Here’s 10 of about 60 clichés that you hear most often.
1. Seal the Meat. When you put a piece of meat into a very hot pan, you’re not creating a crust that traps the juices inside. If that was true, you could fry a steak for hours and it would still be juicy. It’s completely unscientific to say this. A better term would be ‘brown the meat’, because that is what you’re doing…non-enzymatically. Continue reading →
ASDA Kingswood, oh how I love and loathe you! We leave supermarkets feeling like we have just finished a half marathon. We feel tired, defeated, slightly poorer and like we haven’t got everything we intended to buy. At times you will feel like supermarkets are designed to stress you out. And it’s not a completely paranoid belief. To a certain extent, they are. The sounds, smells, lights and general confusion all make us more likely, they believe, to overspend. A lot of research suggests that when we’re not able to make rational decisions down a supermarket aisle, we tend to put any old thing in our baskets and go over budget.
This article doesn’t just apply to ASDA Kingswood, so apologies to anybody that is already offended. ASDA Kingswood just happens to be my supermarket. So here is a list of the 10 most likely obstacles you will find in [enter your supermarket] and ways to overcome them. Please don’t take them too seriously! Continue reading →
David Cameron, with his face like a pile of shiny gammon, proving that while ‘all art is useless’, not all useless things should be art.
Hull UK Capital of Culture 2017! Should we win, it would be great for the city. More than anything, it would be a more positive headline than Hull is the fattest this, or the thickest that. It also makes us look more closely at what we can do to improve the city culturally. Sort of like when you have guests round to your house, you start seeing things that could do with cleaning up a bit. And winning European Capital of Culture was great for Liverpool in 2008. I went there to get a passport rushed through and was taken back by how positive the people there were, and how much was ‘going on’. So, yes, like a pushy parent wanting the best for their child, I would be overjoyed if Hull won UK Capital of Culture 2017. But do we deserve it?
In the sense that Hull is a city that needs a kick-start, yes we are deserving. The recession has hit this city pretty hard. We’ve all heard the statistics about the number of people chasing each job and the lack of smaller council houses for the many people that this one-size-fits-all government seems intent on shaking down at every turn. And in the spirit of the scheme, promoting cities and boosting local economies, we deserve it. But, then again, doesn’t every city? No, for me, the question is, all things considered, is Hull a cultural hotspot? Continue reading →