A mystery. We were puzzled. Why had our neighbour’s son not been going to his college course in catering?
We watched for a few days and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him. His younger brother was being transported somewhere by his dad (not that there is a perfectly good bus service directly to the college, much) but no older bro in evidence. [Note, environmental day, five or ten minutes in the car v getting the local bus … groan … how many would get the bus?]
Had he chucked it? Been kicked out? Got a job elsewhere? Ha! Not right now where we live in Andalucía. No jobs. Maybe he was on a secondment, I said, not really believing it.
Eventually Nosy Partner asked.
Yay! He was based in Sanlucar de Barrameda (fine sherry I add quickly, possibly the best), working in Cota Doñana. Because he can drive a 4×4, works with horses, and is training as a chef, he was taking food into the national park every day and generally having a good time. Presumably he and some others prepped the food and then he transported it.
That was a relief.
But I wonder what else they teach them at catering college? After reading a post by Brit on the Rock, about visiting the eastern side of Gib and the Caleta Palace Hotel, I decided to look up their menus on their website. Except there weren’t any. Apart from the banqueting ones which left a lot to be desired from a vegetarian point of view.
So then I looked back to the menu I posted for the Rock Hotel, some time ago:
I could have gazpacho followed by tomato salad for the bargain price of nearly twelve quid. That’s just for one person so £24 for anyone who hasn’t worked out there are two of us. For cold tomato soup and salad. That I could do as well, or better, and certainly cheaper.
If I want to eat in the Rock restaurant I can have risotto with dolcelatte and broad beans for a starter. No choice. £10.
For my main course, I have a choice. I can have beetroot and asparagus pie with soft cheese. Or a sweet veg bavarois with a tortilla and some tomato sauce, although it has a posher name than that. £17 for either.
So for two people we’ve now got to £54 for a rice starter, and either an omelette and soft veg thing or veg pie for main course.
What about the Elliott?
Starters – goats cheese tart, or more rice – this time with Parmesan biscuits. Cost – £7-8.
Main course – veg stir fry and noodles for the glorious sum of £13.50. So we’re looking at £22 each, ie £44 for a cheese starter and a veg stir fry.
So what, you might ask, as you are drooling over the carni/pesci options, is my point? Apart from the fact that none of those non-veg options on either menu would have interested me years ago.
The point is the veg menus are totally unimaginative. With the exception of the veg stir fry (cost of ingredients for two, a couple of quid at most), they are largely based on cheese/milk ie dairy products. Next question, is the cheese being used vegetarian? ie is it made with vegetarian rennet or rennet from cows/calves/pigs stomachs?
I’ll start with Parmesan cheese. You can’t call it Parmesan unless it is made with calf rennet. So that’s easy isn’t it? Anything using Parmesan is NOT vegetarian. Please note that, Elliott Hotel.
Goats cheese may be vegetarian. But given your lack of knowledge about Parmesan, Elliott, I wouldn’t be too keen on trusting you about your goats cheese.
Dolcelatte? Mascarpone? Allegedly vegetarian according to some sources, ie no dead animal rennet. But quite honestly, why can’t all you clever trained chefs offer food without dairy produce? If I can, and I’m not a trained chef, why can’t you?
And as to the Rock, for your veg main courses, no, a number of starter courses do not suit certain vegetarians and so can be served for a main course. There is one vegetarian starter only.
Both hotels offer a cheese board. And how much of that is vegetarian I wonder? Let alone vegan. Laughing at the thought of vegans even being thought about.
So I am left wondering exactly what my young Spanish neighbour is learning about vegetarian catering. If anything. A bit of cheese or a tortilla for those hard-to-please customers? Shall I get into the free-range egg issue?
And why is it even relevant?
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.
Er why are starving, emaciated, hungry people a theme for celebration? Wrong words there.
Foodprint. Oh no. These prints are getting beyond a joke.
While the planet is struggling to provide us with enough resources to sustain its 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050), FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.
I probably won’t be alive by 2050. I’ll have died off in the workhouse. Due to the negative environmental impacts. Or something like that.
This year’s campaign rallies you to take action from your home and then witness the power of collective decisions you and others have made to reduce food waste, save money, minimise the environmental impact of food production and force food production processes to become more efficient.
I think there is a way of saying that in English. Stop buying ready-made meals, bleating about your frozen mince being horse or donkey not cows, buy locally instead of cheap imports. Really. Do these people live in Dreamland? Honestly, who gives a shit about the environment enough to act on their principles?
Would you buy organic veg at premium price?
Would you support local shops instead of doing the easy supermarket run?
Would you buy local produce if it was more expensive than imported food?
And as for the last comment about making food production processes more efficient? Isn’t that the whole problem? Efficiency equals bigger bucks, more profit. Bad choice of words there, UN, very bad.
If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost. For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.
Well, there’s an easy answer to that one. Don’t use dairy products and don’t eat meat. But no-one wants to say that do they? They say just don’t waste it when you’ve bought it.
In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.
Really? Tell me something I didn’t know. Vegetarians, and more importantly, vegans have been saying this for years. So it takes the UN until 2013 to discover this?
Making informed decision therefore means, for example, that you purposefully select foods that have less of an environmental impact, such as organic foods that do not use chemicals in the production process. Choosing to buy locally can also mean that foods are not flown halfway across the world and therefore limit emissions.
So think before you eat and help save our environment!
What a cop out, UN. You could also point out that being a vegetarian, or preferably vegan, would do a hell of a sight more. You might also want to stop pussy footing around with silly statements, and realise that people don’t give a shit so long as their food is cheap, easy, and they have money to spend on important things in life. You know what they are. Holidays, clothes, meals out, status symbols, a few little gadgets around the house, a large screen television, a new car. The list is endless. An easy life.
Summertime, and the living’s easy. Because that’s what people want. Not this silly difficult ethical business.
After all, who amongst us would take a permanent drop in our standard of our living for the benefit of the environment when we have worked so hard all our lives? Take your wings and spread to the sky.
Thanks to ilargia64 for the alert
And UN link
For more on an environment-related theme, you can read about GMOs over on Clouds.