A few interesting stories here.
Firstly Fairtrade. I think that Fairtrade is hugely important. Millions of people in developing countries reply on the the sale of their crops to the developed world for their livelihood. Over 20 million people are reliant on the tea industry. This is a huge number. Much attention has been paid to Fairtrade coffee and chocolate, but rather less to tea. With 165m cups of tea drunk every year in the UK, it is a huge market, and for what is essentially a luxury good (despite our protestations that we need our daily tea or coffee), it seems only fair to pay the farmers and producers a fair price. Visit Make it Fair for more information.
Here is a fun video making the point with the Fairtrade Taste Test.
It is Chinese New Year on Thursday and here are some tips from Chinese Chef Ken Hom:
Shooting off firecrackers on the eve of Chinese New Year is our way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year; and don’t forget that on the stroke of midnight, every door and window in the house has to be open to allow the old year to go out.
Key ingredients to include in a Chinese New Year banquet:
- Chicken for fortune
- Fish for prosperity
- Noodles for longevity (never cut noodles)
- Duck is a symbol of fidelity
- Vegetables represent cleansing of the system
- Wontons represent gold ingots (wealth)
- Seaweed for wealth
Chinese New Year is steeped in superstition – here are just some of the ones you could come across:
- The entire house should be cleaned before New Year’s Day. On the eve of Chinese New Year, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment should be put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year’s Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.
- Shooting off firecrackers on the eve of Chinese New Year is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year.
- On the stroke of midnight, every door and window in the house has to be open to allow the old year to go out.
- All debts have to be paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light to others.
- If you cry on New Year’s Day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.
- On New Year’s Day, we are not supposed to wash our hair because it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New Year.
- A home is thought to be lucky if a plant blooms on New Year’s Day, as this foretells the start of a prosperous year.
- It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.
- Do not use knives or scissors on New Year’s Day as this may cut off fortune.
- Whilst many Chinese people today may not believe in these dos and don’ts, these traditions and customs are still practised. Most families say that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.
A few weeks ago I was asked to the Sainsbury’s spring preview for Valentine’s, Mothering Sunday and Easter, the press embargo is now lifted and I can show my favourite Valentine’s items. I think that all of these are lovely, well thought out and affordable, the bugs and gingerbread would be perfect for giving to children or for lunchboxes. Also available are cupcakes, chocolates, chocolate hearts and more flowers.
- Mr & Mrs Loved up – £1 each, with gingerbread hearts at 85p.
- Chocolate Roses £1 each – I’ve love a bunch of these
- Cute “love bugs” £1 a packet
- A bargainous dozen fairtrade red roses for £4.99. I heartily approve!
For those that like foodie films Eat, Pray, Love is shortly to be released on DVD / Blue Ray on the 7th Feb. Naturally I am most looking forward to the food parts!
And lastly a bit of fun: As a child I played with Sindy, and coveted the very numerous, and very expensive accessories that could be bought for her. Sindy’s older transatlantic cousin was Barbie, who’s boyfriend was Ken. Barbie and Ken spilt up a few years back. In a bid to win Barbie back in time for valentine’s day, Ken has asked the Magnolia Bakery to create a special cupcake for him. A classic vanilla or chocolate cupcake iced with Barbie’s favorite shades of pink buttercream and sparkling sugar crystals, topped with a white chocolate heart inscribed with a special message from Ken.