Jazz et cuisine

The one concert I went to in the London Jazz Festival was a pretty obvious choice: Jazz et Cuisine promised a “tasty fusion of food and music.”

What we got was a treat for the ears and nose: British musician Andy Sheppard playing clarinet and guitar, and wonderfully imaginative Italian percussionist Michele Rabbia playing just about anything – tinfoil, marbles, shopping bags, his face

– as they improvised around the Gallic bustlings of Ivan Vautier

as he whipped up oddities like Pan-fried foie gras with green asparagus, topped with an egg soft-cooked inside a pastry wrapper and served with raspberry butter,

or Fine pastry onion tart served with lobster, onion sorbet and crispy bacon pieces with sharp cider butter.

He made nothing I’d particularly care to eat or attempt to cook myself (even if I had some of the molecular gastronomy kit he was using), but it smelled wonderful and was engaging to watch.

And just as well it wasn’t to my taste since the curious British obsession with Health & Safety meant we weren’t allowed so much as a nibble, since the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Hall isn’t a licensed kitchen, and is therefore presumably considered toxic.

What we did get was a “special offer” to show our tickets at the cafe, and receive the opportunity to buy a plate of French cheese and a glass of Merlot for “just £7.50”. I passed, in favour of a nice piece of orange & lavender cake and a mineral water for about half the price. Hmph.

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0 Responses to Jazz et cuisine

  1. leah fritz says:

    Dear Rhona,
    At £12.50 a kilo, a 5 kilo turkey (not huge) would cost about £85.00 according to my bad arithmetic! Well, you'd have to be very rich indeed to afford that for a family Thanksgiving or Christmas. It seems sad that rich and poor must eat different quality foods. I suppose organic farmers would have to be heavily subsidised to provide food at a price most people can afford. What a shame!

  2. Rhona McAdam says:

    Agreed: it is outrageously expensive. But worth saving up for, if turkey means Christmas dinner to you.

    But cheap meat is an outrage as well, that incurs devastating costs to animals, environment and consumers alike. What is truly outrageous is to pretend that cheap food is the same (nutritionally or any other way) as more expensive, high quality, sustainably-grown food, produced by people paid a living wage.

    If we accept the economic poles that result from our commitment to capitalism, then we can't pretend that people will be treated equally where food is concerned, any more than the poor get access equal to what the rich can afford, in shelter, medical care or anything else that costs money.

    I feel that access to animal protein is like any economic marker that divides rich and poor: if we can't afford good quality meat, then we can't eat it.

    At least those of us with internet access can still watch The Meatrix for free.

  3. leah fritz says:

    It isn't a matter of accepting capitalism. It's what we have. But within it reforms are always possible. For instance, the NHS (free medical care in Britain) has been absolutely wonderful to me, with the most dedicated doctors and nurses. This functions within the general capitalistic system here, because the people demanded it. However, if people eat poorly because of the high price of good food, then it will cost the NHS more, so it's shortsighted economy. There has to be a way of providing food stamps or something like it to augment the money poor people can spend for good diets. I don't mean Turkey, necessarily. Just decent organic eggs, chickens, chopped meat, veg, fruit…Don't you agree that makes sense?

  4. Rhona McAdam says:

    Well Leah, I think *accepting* capitalism might be a mild description of the situation, when you see who's getting votes these days – UK, US, Canada 🙁

    When I lived in the UK the NHS was good to me too, but at times private healthcare was better: I got an MRI and my knee surgery after a week instead of the 6 months I would have had to wait under the NHS, and much improved access to post-op physio. Canada also has public health care, but certain treatments that I'd consider essential – physiotherapy, dental care – are not covered; for those you have to be in a salaried job with benefits. Or on welfare perhaps. Those of us floating in the middle go without.

    It would be great if health care did include good quality subsidised food as part of its programming. There's certainly awareness around it as a preventive measure. Some communities in Canada have Good Food Box programs (I do not know to what extent, if any, these are funded by health systems) that offer affordable fresh foods for a modest price.

    But as the likes of Jamie Oliver have discovered, there are problems getting people to accept a new and improved diet: it takes time that a lot of people don't have/don't choose to spend to prepare fresh foods; you have to have the skills to cook; you have to be able to afford to find out if your family will eat new, healthier foods when they've been raised on and often prefer high salt high fat foods; junk food is cheaper and less perishable than fresh.

    And what do people in upwardly mobile situations do? They go for meat. Lots of meat. Three times a day if they can manage it. Good quality, one hopes, but eat too much and it makes you as sick – in a different way – as living on cheap junk food. Human nature, go figure.

    But it is, as you say, worth trying, and worth hoping that health systems are able to incorporate more far-sighted policies.