A grain of hope
Sep 2010 09

First of all an apology is owed for the poor attempt at humour in the title of this post because actually the meaning is much more literal. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is currently downplaying fears of a global food crisis being flamed by the widespread drought in Russia which caused a drop in wheat production and a subsequent Government ban on grain exports. Senior economists at the FAO claim that overall crop production levels are historically high although they do admit to being concerned by the speed of the recent rises, which has seen grain prices hit two year highs on the commodity markets while the price of wheat has risen by 50% since the start of July.

World Food Programme delivers food to Haiti – Image: Peter Casier /UNWFP

Clearly the ability of one large exporting state to cause prolonged volatility in the commodity markets coupled with the unpredictable effects of climate change means that the potential of increasing food prices and possible shortages gives us all a reason to be concerned. Of course while some of us will be more than a little annoyed as the price of a decent pint goes past £4, it is in poorer households globally that the increase in prices is most keenly felt. Indeed, some of the world’s poorest countries are already suffering the consequences as witnessed by the death of six people in the Mozambique capital Maputo this week. Maputo saw riots have break out in response to the 25% rise in the price of bread this year, the declining currency and rising water and fuel prices all of which could potentially lead to political unrest.

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What’s for dinner today? Penis Restaurant anyone?
Feb 2010 24

Depending on who you are; when you are hungry a penis restaurant may not feature very high up on your list of places to go to satisfy your cravings. In fact, for large number of people it would not even make the list at all, however in China eating sexual organs is seen as a treatment for the libido, one that helps to increase virility rather than test of the strength of one’s stomach.

Indeed the Chinese believe that the penises from different animals can be good for different parts of the body, something that is echoed in many cultures where the use of unusual parts of animals or plants are an entrenched part of traditional medicine. However, the Chinese are far from the only people eating “exotic” and wonderful foods, the Japanese of course have Fugu the infamous pufferfish that is highly poisonous unless cooked with extreme care. In El Salvador people eat Iguana meat which like frogs (infamously a delicacy in France) tastes like chicken, only tougher. The French themselves have until recently gorged on an endangered songbird know as an Orlotan, which is swallowed whole, bones and all. In Lancashire, a county well known in the UK for the variety of its traditional dishes,you can buy lamb testicles that have been peeled, bread-crumbed and fried, whilst throughout Southern Africa, worms that look similar to caterpillars found in mopani trees, are and can be eaten alive, or fried and are an important source of nutrition.

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Royale with Cheese
Jul 2009 29

Now nearly everybody I know has seen the movie Pulp Fiction and most people remember  Samuel Jackson’s infamous line, “that is a tasty burger”! In fact the quality of a burger is a recurring theme in this movie and as the clip below highlights different countries have different names for the more famous burgers as sold by the likes of McDonalds. A quarter pounder with cheese being called a Royale Cheese in France as John Travolta points out. In some Middle-Eastern (Saudi Arabia and UAE) and Eastern European countries (Poland, Serbia, Czech Republic), McDonald’s provides both a Quarter Pounder and a McRoyale burger on its menu, the McRoyale having slightly different ingredients. Quarteirão com Queijo is used in metric Brazil, Cuarto de Libra con Queso in Latin America, whereas it is called a QP Cheese in Sweden.

Further the Big Mac, becomes le Big Mac or El Big Mac in french and spanish respectively. In India, the Big Mac was renamed the Maharaja Mac and was originally made with lamb instead of beef; however, along with the company’s other items it is now made from chicken. In Israel, where religious Jews do not mix dairy and meat products, a special Kosher version of the Big Mac is served without cheese. In Japan, there was a variant with egg, called the Mega Tamago, as well as a variant with tomato (called the Mega Tomato). So really what is in a name? Unless the ingredients vary significantly a burger is a burger right…..?

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Jollof and Chilli
May 2009 19


This is a quick easy recipe to make jollof rice and chilli simultaneously (they can be eaten together or used for separate meals). It’s nothing fancy; a bachelor’s endeavour, but we hope it will be the first of many diverse recipes to be shared here on aspecks. Please send in your contributions (preferably with pictures) to aspecks@gmail.com

Required Utensils: Stir fry wok or large frying pan and a cooking pot


Cooking Oil

Chicken pieces (or breast slices) seasoned to your taste

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What’s for dinner today?
Jan 2009 28


Me, personally don’t like certain vegetables; for instance broccoli, eggplant and spinach. I don’t care how good they are for you; the thought of some deep fried mountain rat is actually more appealing to me especially considering that it looks like chicken. And yes, it is really rat meat in the picture….
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