Inside a Chile Pepper or how to connect the global with the local

IMG_2081Mexican food is famous for its inclusion of chile peppers; British food is not. This is why it is particularly fascinating to me that an old high school friend and his partner have made a wonderful business out of growing, promoting, and selling chile peppers in the UK–in Bedforshire, no less, where you are more likely to find a Clanger (rather like a cornish pasty) than Mole. Edible Ornamentals, runs workshops (including one on hydroponic chile growing), does tours (Chile tour to Texas anyone?) and has a tasting kitchen (visited by the likes of Heston Blumenthal). Their core business, however, is the growing and selling of Chile plants–nearly 150 varieties of chile plants.  Recently I had the opportunity to add to this collection. Continue reading

Food, fear and the price of limes in Mexico

Limes in Jamaica Mercado

If I could describe Mexico city with one word I would have to say food. When engaging with this city it is almost impossible not to notice the abundance of food possibilities. On nearly every street corner you can find juice vendors, paleta stands (fruit ice lollies), or taco stands. Women sit in doorways selling tomales to passers by on their way to work. As you move along the pavements you must make your way between and around those having a meal or buying their breakfast. In more affluent neighbourhoods there are tables on the pavements outside decorated with a basket of bread and where patrons linger over their meals in the pleasant warmth of the weather. Fruit is sweetly ripe and visually vivid while the smells of cooked meat and tortillas tempered by the sharp smokiness of chilies assault your olfactory senses. In this city one cannot help but interact with food; food becomes part of every encounter, in one way or another, as conversations inevitably turn to recommendations and comments about where and what to eat. Eventually, patterns to these interactions emerge and it becomes apparent that food in this city, as is the case throughout the world is classed.  But what seems unique here is the role that fear plays in making these class distinctions. Continue reading