By Duchess of Hackney

Hackney livin' n lovin'. Sarky frosty knickers always gobby, and perpetually pissed off for good reasons. Wind up merchant extraordinaire, but a nice old fashioned unusually unusual gal... Writing lots of wrongs.

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Hackney ‘foodies’ and eateries, your obsession with locally sourced is doing my head in

Hackney ‘foodies’ and eateries, your obsession with locally sourced is doing my head in

Actually it’s pissing me off, but I didn’t want to use the P word in the heading.

Locally

a. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular place: a local custom; the local slang.
b. Of or relating to a city, town, or district rather than a larger area

When a local restaurant starts rattling on in their blurb about using “locally sourced” ingredients, it instantly puts me off because I’m not stupid, I see the ruse and I don’t buy into hype, buzz words or pretentious clap trap. That goes for farmers markets too.

For example you in Hackney, wouldn’t refer to a farmer in Norfolk as a local farmer would you?  So why would you refer to his or her carrots or asparagus as “locally sourced”? If you want to make it known that your strawberries didn’t come all the way from Spain or Morocco or your beef from Argentina or some grubby abattoir in Eastern Europe that passes off horse meat as beef, just say “British grown” or “British reared”.

Listen, I understand Brits feel displaying patriotism is dirty and vulgar and don’t like to show love for this country openly, but I saw y’all get all misty eyed and your lips quiver during the Diamond Jubilee last year and then again for the birth of a new royal sprog last summer.  I know you have it in you to be patriotic, so lets call it British grown even British sourced if you really must use the word ‘sourced.

If you squint, you can pretend you are seeing sheep in on the grounds of Alexandra Palace.

If you squint, you can pretend you are seeing sheep on the grounds of Alexandra Palace.

Yes I know, it means you can charge stupid money for a bowl of soup or a plate full of tasteless kale I wouldn’t feed to my dogs, but I promise you, I’m not parting with my money because the chef or owner reckons claiming it’s “locally sourced” will sway folks with the belief it’s  superior food.  Of course if you can prove the food was grown or the lamb was rared in Hackney or even an adjacent borough, I just might bite. Until then, I’m calling bull shit on all of you.

I’ve lived in and traveled through small towns abroad where people don’t find the need to use this gimmick, so why the need to do so here in the UK? I blame all this crap on the turn around or should I say the development of “British Cuisine” over recent years.

I spent some of my formative years in London and remember as a child feeling grateful that my family were African and Caribbean, because it meant tasty seasoned meals at home and not the slop we had for school dinner. Back then the shallow pond of  British fare was, well, shallow.  Fried meat, boiled starch, pies and gravy. Dessert or pudding was a mind numbing, uninspiring assortment, that I sometimes look back at nostalgically,  but wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole today. Back then British Cuisine was the joke of the world, I was so grateful for Indian, Italian and Greek restaurants in London. Thankfully not so anymore, I’m spoilt for choice not just in Hackney but all of London.

We grew everything

Not the ranch I lived on, but just down the road and similar views. We grew everything here.

One of the places I lived in, was a small town 20 minutes drive from the Los Angeles county line, just over an hours drive to down town Hollywood and 20 minute drive to the beach in Ventura. The towns economy was largely driven by agriculture and was known for its abundance of orange, lemon groves and everything from coriander to avocados grow there. When I wasn’t buying genuinely local produce I was growing my own potatoes, tomatoes, habaneros peppers, squash, celery, courgettes (zucchini), aubergines, cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce, corn, strawberries, and we had a few apple trees and a few acres of orange groves.

Locally sourced was never a buzz word and if they had to, restaurants would inform their customers produce was “locally grown”. I imagine with NAFTA in place, some folks wanted to know they were truly buying produce or food  cooked with genuinely local produce from Ventura County and not Mexico or Canada.

Then I returned to old blighty and you’ve all made hero’s of Jamie, Nigella gets pubescent boys and grown men reaching for a wipe up tissue when she licks her fingers (and not to wipe up spilled food if you know what I mean 🙂 ).  Then there’s  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who’s in a whole other class. Nigella I dig, because she just cooks and seems to have fun, it’s the others who want to dictate a life style. Sure she has her line of products, I’m down with that, girls got to make her mullah right? It’s the crusaders I have no time for.

So Hackney, until Norfolk or Kent becomes part of East London, it ain’t locally sourced.

 

 

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