Welcome to the Cafe Asia newsletter for April 2015: Easter is over, the weather is getting warmer and we’re now looking forward to the joys of summer. That’s not all you have to look forward to, though: we’re here again with our monthly round-up of top headlines from the catering, manufacturing, cash and carry and food service sectors, giving you an insight into some of the major developments, news stories and movings and shakings… Is charging for hygiene inspections on the cards…? EU member states, under the burden of public finance squeezes, are now looking to cut regulation costs even further - by making food and drink businesses pay for their own hygiene inspections. The final decision on whether to make this change is due at the end of 2015, with any new regulations unlikely to come into force until 2017 or later. It is estimated by Bob...Read More
Although star anise might call poached pears and stir-fries to mind, the spice is also grown in Arunachal Pradesh – a mountainous state in the north east of India. Known locally as badian khatai, star anise is a key component in garam masala, and is commonly used in conjunction with other spices to create distinctive Indian dishes such as biryanis, kormas and chutneys. Procured from Illicium verum – an evergreen native to Vietnam and China – star anise comprises the seeds and dried outer wall of the tree’s fruit. The star-shaped fruits are harvested before ripening, most commonly between March and May. Although it’s not related to regular anise, both ingredients contain anethole – an organic compound responsible for their strong, sweet flavour.
Green star anise: The spice is harvested before it ripens (Image credit: By fuzheado (Flickr: IMG_6719.JPG) , via Wikimedia Commons)
Nutritious... Read More
Mealtime etiquette is a curious thing. Some of the customs accorded to serving and eating food across the world can seem bizarre to outsiders but represent the utmost civility and respect to their practitioners. In almost any culture, mealtimes are given their own set of traditions and formalities that define a certain reverence to eating not to be underestimated by visitors. To break those rules can be seen as ignorance, impoliteness or consummate offence. To observe them can be the difference between local acceptance or no further dinner invitations. Symbolically, mealtime customs represent the value attached to food. They are often far more than mere superstitions, signifying cultural heritages and the importance of sharing food over centuries of observation. Chopsticks, for example, age-old utensils of choice for many Asian countries, have picked up plenty of practices, rituals and omens over their generations of use:
Chopsticks and empty platesIn China, lighting incense... Read More
Welcome to the Cafe Asia news round-up for March 2015: a time when most of our minds here in England are focused on the upcoming Easter weekend, and food of course. As such, we’re here again with our monthly round-up of top headlines from the catering, manufacturing, cash and carry and food service sectors, giving you an insight into some of the major developments, news stories and movings and shakings…
Food fraud fines set to rise...For more unscrupulous food and drink businesses, food fraud is seen as an easy way to cut costs and make more money with relatively low penalties imposed on those who are found out. All of that is changing, though, with the EU handing out far tougher penalties to those who commit food fraud. Fines can now be in the millions of pounds, while fraudsters now also run the risk of jail time,... Read More
Welcome to the Cafe Asia news round-up for February 2015: a month when Valentine’s Day and pancakes are on everybody’s minds. Here we’ll be bringing you a round-up of top headlines from the catering, manufacturing, cash and carry and food service sectors, giving you an insight into some of the major developments, news stories and movings and shakings…
Tesco demands price cuts from its suppliers...With investigations under way into the supermarket’s finances, and pressures due to the success of cut-price chains such as Aldi and Lidl, Tesco have now been revealed to be putting pressure on their suppliers to make price cuts. Reports state that the chain has been attempting to renegotiate deals over recent weeks, with threats of the withdrawal of their products if suppliers refuse to co-operate.
European Parliament backs new meat labeling regulation for processed food...Plans are in place to bring in
Welcome to the third Cafe Asia news round-up, and a very happy 2015 to you all! Every month, we’ll be bringing you a round-up of top headlines from the catering, manufacturing, cash and carry and food service sectors, giving you an insight into some of the major developments, news stories and movings and shakings…
New EU rules for genetically modified crops…New rules on GM crops have now been approved by the European Parliament; rules that mean that member states will have more power to decide whether or not to grow such crops in their own country. At present, just one GM crop - a maize used for animal feed - is grown in the EU, and any proposed new GM products in the future will still have to go through a European risk approval process. Should such new products be deemed safe, it will be up to... Read More
Welcome to Cafe Asia news round-up for December 2014! Every month, we’ll be bringing you a round-up of top headlines from the catering, manufacturing, cash and carry and food service sectors, giving you an insight into some of the major developments, news stories and movings and shakings…
EU Food Information Regulation takes effect…New EU food information regulations came into effect on December 13, with the new rules meaning that any food sold unpackaged now needs to feature allergy information. Manufacturers of all sizes have spent thousands of pounds on label changes, with Trace One claiming that the cost has been, on average, £3,000 per product. Trace One have also claimed that errors in labelling changes could cost manufacturers in excess of £100k per product.
Big savings from the reduction of food waste…WRAP’s Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA) has published its first year results which show... Read More
Chinese holidays and festivals have always valued tradition. The food eaten during these festivals is no exception: rich in taste, history and symbolic meaning. Here are a few of the most important festival foods.
Chinese New Year / Spring FestivalThe Chinese New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, is the longest festival in the Chinese calendar, lasting sixteen days from New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival. The foods eaten during the New Year celebrations take on highly symbolic meanings. Different types of fish are eaten based on their homophonics, which is when the names sound like other words. For example, the Mandarin word for Crucian carp, jìyú, sounds like the Mandarin word for 'good luck', jí, while the word for catfish, niányú, sounds like nián yú, meaning 'year's surplus'. There are also rules for eating the fish, such as that the head should go to the... Read More
We’re big snackers in the UK - eating both home-produced stuff and ideas we’ve taken from other countries. The market for snack foods globally is booming. According to market analysts at Mintel, the UK snack market alone will be valued at over £3.8bn by 2016 which by all accounts is a lot of crisps and Jaffa Cakes to consume. Some countries have snack foods that just seem plain odd, though - here we take a look at some of the strangest snacking options from around the globe...
1. Balut: Fertilised Duck Egg (Philippines)Balut is a duck egg that is fertilised and left to grow for several days before it is then boiled or steamed and served in the shell. Once the shell is opened, you can see the growing baby chick which is then eaten in its entirety.
2. Scorpion Suckers (Mexico)This Read More
Preparing authentic Indian food from scratch doesn’t always seem easy. The fearsome prospect of masala, ghee and amchoor, those mysterious goods in relatively huge bags, can have the would-be chef running for the takeaway menu or the jar of Uncle Ben’s.