Food, hunger and happiness in Armenia

lunch in Hermon Valley

I went to Armenia in April 2011 for Oxfam, the Times and the BBC. On The Culture Show BBC2, 28 October I told how that story was done, in words and pictures. Here’s more from the trip:

Food foraging in Armenia: an Audio Slideshow

June 2011, BBC Online

Churchill and Armenian brandy

BBC Radio 4, From Our Own Correspondent, July 2011

Is this the worst dish in the world?

May 28, 2011, The Times.

The worst dish in the world found in Armenia

Khash must be stewed for 32 hours

Recipe: Take 4 cow’s hooves and ankles and 1 brain (optional); boil for 32 hours (without seasoning); remove scum; gnaw bones with salt and pickles. Drink a shot of vodka with each mouthful.

KHASH, “the masterpiece of Armenian cuisine”, is always eaten early in the morning. “It is not wise to eat it late,” says our host, Shirak. “Khash is so rich, you need all day to digest it.” He takes us to visit the kitchen the night before the feast; we inspect the great pot where four cow’s feet and ankles and one bovine brain are bubbling. “It started cooking last night, because khash must be stewed for 32 hours,” says Shirak. We agree to meet when that time is up: at 7am.

I wake with a sense of dread. I dreamt I was back at school, faced with an important exam: Shirak was the invigilator. When I get downstairs, I think how much I would give for a cup of tea and no breakfast-time challenges. But on the table is a pile of crispy lavash flatbread, some radishes, a bowl of crushed garlic and salt. And a bottle of vodka.

Read on at The Times Online

The Truth about Tesco’s not-so-big price drop

The Truth about Tesco 2011, graphic, The Times

The Truth about Tesco 2011: graphic from The Times

17th October 2011, The Times

Dozens of the savings offered by Tesco in its “Big Price Drop” — the £500 million campaign that started a supermarket price war three weeks ago — are on foods that were sold only briefly at the higher price, research by The Times has shown.

Huge advertising promotions this month have promised discounts on 3,000 items. “Sometimes you have to put aside just the pursuit of profit in order to get back in tune with the nation,” said Tesco chief executive Phil Clarke as Big Price Drop launched. But Tesco appears to have raised the price of hundreds of items in the weeks before the promotion, perhaps to make the subsequent offers look more attractive.

You can read the full article on Times Online

How will climate change affect Britain’s crops?

11th October 2009, The Observer

Olives, kiwi fruit, almonds – as the climate gets hotter in the UK, we may well be producing our own exotic crops

Far from the failed harvests, droughts and floods of Asia, Mark Diacono is expecting some good to come of climate change. On his 17-hectare farm beside the Otter river in north Devon, he is experimenting with the crops that might provide a living for farmers in the warmer, wetter Britain of the near future. So far the only thing he has really harvested is TV coverage – it only takes British agriculture, “food security” and climate change to be mentioned together for television news to be on the phone asking if they can send a crew to his orchards.

Nearly five years since he started his “climate change farm”, Diacono says results have been mixed. “Two olive species did well and two not. The almonds have not worked: there were two bad summers in a row. You have to take it on the chin if you’re going to try this stuff.”

Read the rest here at Guardian Online