Ten Things to Eat Before They Die

Ten things to eat before they die: not you but they--as in endangered foods from speciality and artisanal producers who are trying hard to stay in business. From Africa to the UK there are gourmet products made by local people whose production is threatened because of globalisation and and the homogeneous, supermarket dominated world that we live in. Organisers of a gala dinner event chose 18 ingredients from a list of hundreds of vanishing delicacies and narrowed it down to ten starring foods. The menu was devised in association with the Slow Food movement which campaigns for traditional local producers, and many of the foods were from their "Ark of Taste" list of endangered foods.

The dinner menu sounds gourmet but nothing extraordinary until the stories behind the different choices are revealed. For example, the raisins on the monkfish are from Herat in Afghanistan, a fertile area with a history of growing more than 120 varieties of raisins since the 4th century. The berry jam is from Transylvania, in Romania, where it is a speciality made in seven small villages that were founded by 13th century Saxon immigrants. Herdwick mutton, from hardy, slow-growing sheep in the Lake District, UK, come from the breed belonging to the late author Beatrix Potter. It was almost wiped out because of foot and mouth disease.

The Saint-Flour Planèze Golden Lentils, from France, used to be widespread, but now the land used to grow the crop has been switched to livestock farming. They will be served with the lamb.

Other local endangered foods on the menu include asparagus from Lancashire. It has been grown by four generations of family farmers in the area and was even served on the Titanic. Now it is grown on four acres and the farmer struggles against competition from cheap mass growers. It will be served with Jersey Royal potatoes.

Another story: the potatoes first became popular in the 19th century as one of the first seasonal potatoes available in the spring. They were grown on south- facing coastal slopes in Jersey using seaweed for fertiliser. Now they are grown under plastic everywhere on the island and the distinct flavour has been lost.

Most obscure food: Imraguen mullet botarga. Also known as Mauretanian caviar, the golden mullet are drawn from a lake in a national park in Mauratania, where only nomads with motorless boats are permitted to fish. The women cure the roe which is shipped to North Africa. :: Guardian
More on Heritage Foods

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Slow Food Movement
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Tags: Cooking | Diet | Farming | Local Food