Don’t be afraid to take whisks

Me: Will you be tuning into Bake Off, Chloë?
Chloë: Of course I will. I’m not one to hold a grudge.

We are, of course, referring to the latest series of The Great British Bake Off – which has now made its home in the colourful, advert and sponsorship-filled, bosom of Channel 4.

In contrast to Chloë, I do have a tendency to hold grudges. I’ve still not forgiven Mondelēz for ’rounding’ the famous block-shaped Cadbury Dairy Milk bars. (Apparently that move was to improve the ‘mouth feel’ of the chocolate – pfffffft.) And don’t even get me started on the fact that Nestlé ditched the foil and paper wrapping on Kit-Kats in favour of plastic. (It’s been 16 years, Gem. Let it go.)

But like all chocolate addicts, I grudgingly indulge in the above brands. And, grudgingly, I’ll give GBBO a whirl. 

My back is already up, however, because I know the episodes will be shorter to make up for all the sponsorship idents and ad breaks. It’s like when manufacturers make products smaller but still charge you the same price for them. We still end up going along with it despite feeling a little bit cheated on value.

There’s also the line-up change. We’ve all substituted ingredients in recipes before. Even some of our favourite foodie brands have had to make changes along the way. Sometimes the end product turns out even better than expected – not always, mind. 

I can just about cope with a lack of Mary Berry. Not to mention Mel and Sue. (Arrrrgh! This is really happening.) But, in the end, it will all come down to that key ingredient – the bakers. As long as the producers have found me somebody to love, the same way I fell in love with Selasi last year, we’ll be back in the old groove in no time. (And, yet again, I will feel a little bit dirty for being so fickle.)  

In praise of the periodical

I suffered hoots of derision. HOOTS. Last bank holiday weekend, I hunkered down with a glossy new copy of Modern Farmer magazine. I simply can’t see why it was so funny.

I have a passion for periodicals.

I stopped buying books years ago because I’m now all about the Kindle. But I do love a periodical. To me, they’re in a different league to magazines (though I do have a penchant for Tatler). They’re beautiful. The cover is thicker, the paper is dense, they’re for keeps.

They’re a celebration of typography, graphic design, illustration and great writing. 

Little pockets of magical mystery knowledge that someone, cleverer and more creative than me, went off and just found. Just for the publishability of it.

A few favourites:

Ernest: a trove that purports to cover curious histories, workmanship, slow adventure, timeless style and wild food. Fair do’s, there’s almost nothing in my life that resembles a ramble, but I do crave a house full of hand-tooled hand tools.

Found: a trove of photography of the stuff people just find. 

And let’s not forget, Modern Farmer. There’s a lot more in there than just ads for tractors. But the best thing is, it has those too. You just never know when you’ll need one.

*In memoriam* Lucky Peach: food porn with smarts. No longer with us, may it rest in peace. 

Lucky Peach

Getting ‘Fresh’ in the workplace

I used Amazon Fresh for the first time last week. Not for personal shopping, I should add. We needed some stim material for a foodie project and it was (not surprisingly) the fastest way to get everything. I’d already spent enough time sourcing what we needed in-store but my local supermarkets simply didn’t have the quantities I needed.  

After looking around, I tentatively checked Amazon (as you do) to see whether they could help. Indeed they could…for a fee – which was fine considering the super-quick delivery and the time it would save me. I clicked, paid and, the following day, those famous brown paper bags arrived at Razor HQ. Job done. Thank you, Amazon

As wonderfully simple as it all was, I couldn’t help feeling dirty about the whole transaction. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously already had an Amazon Prime account in place, so I won’t pretend that I’m a saint who’d never bought from Amazon prior to last week. Nor will I pretend that I only buy from small businesses the rest of the time. I live in London and am surrounded by high street chain stores. Shopping in crowded/noisy places stresses me out – which means I end up doing my in-store shopping late at night or early morning. Online shopping has come to my rescue many times.   

So what’s the problem? It must be the stark realisation of just how much Amazon, in particular, has taken over everyday life. It is something I’ve considered several times before, but it wasn’t until I actually bought from Fresh that it’s hit home. The idea of us buying everything from under one ‘virtual’ roof in the future suddenly feels like a much stronger possibility. It’s not one I’m that keen on – and that’s before I begin to think about what’s happening behind the scenes.  

Personally, I’m unlikely to use the service for myself. I’d much rather pick and choose my own fruit and veg. Also the staple items listed on those brown bags just aren’t me…except the prosecco – I’ll give ’em that one.