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Health : Going Bananas about Bananas!

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I’m going bananas about bananas! The use of idioms would be perplexing to students of the English language, who could not deduce from the words used that I am very excited, or at least enthusiastic about bananas as a food. Who would not be when they realise that wrapped within a protective skin that mainly keeps out pesticides, even if not grown organically, there is both a perfect health and convenience food? 
While some people may not like their taste or texture, the banana is among the world’s most popular fruit.  It can satisfy a sweet tooth, while at the same time being low in calories. One medium sized banana has a hundred and five calories, containing fibre, minerals and antioxidants that are good for the digestion, kidney and heart function. 
 
 I remember a neighbour, whose daily regime after a coronary bypass operation, consisted of a long walk plus  – you’ve guessed it a banana!  The reason for this was that bananas are a great dietary source of potassium. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 9% of the RDI.
A diet containing adequate levels of potassium can help lower blood pressure.  Bananas also contain magnesium, which is also important for heart health.
A single medium sized banana also contains Vitamin B6 33% of the RDI, Vitamin C 11% of the RDI, Copper 10% of the RDI and Manganese 14% of the RDI. Think how much these supplements are going to cost in the health shop and you will see what a good deal you are getting with a natural fruit! There are only 0.4 grams of fat in a banana, so it can also be considered a weight loss food.
 
Bananas should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels as they contain pectin. However, people with type 2 diabetes should probably avoid eating a lot of very ripe bananas, as they monitor their sugar levels.  As in all circumstances people should take medical advice if concerned about their diet. 

In the nineteen sixties I worked in London stores. Worked as an Insurance Clerk in the City of London during the nineteen seventies. Divorced in the nineteen nineties. Now I am a retired Civil Servant, managing home and garden and escaping onto social media whenever possible.

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Food

Which was the first pizza restaurant in London?

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When it comes to pizza, there were several Italian restaurants that sold pizza in the 1950s and early 1960s but they weren’t exactly pizzerias and offered reduced quality and choice.

The first London pizza  restaurant was incredibly Pizza Express on Wardour Street, opened in 1965. The founder Peter Boizot had been in Rome and had searched for pizza on his return to London but finding nothing satisfactory he decided to open a pizzeria.

First he tried to buy a restaurant, which had gone bankrupt, which had a pizza oven but he didn’t managed and decided to buy an oven in Naples instead. He also managed to hire a Sicilian cook called Gaetana.

Initially the pizzeria offered a take away service. Others advised to make the pizza ‘more English’, for example, selling it with chips, but Boizot wanted a genuine experience or almost.

Together with designer Enzo Apicella he created the look of the restaurant with its open kitchen and simple but attractive decor.

The restaurant was successful and in 1967 they opened the second restaurant near the British Museum.

Peter Boziot was also a jazz fan and therefore thought he had a pizzeria with live jazz music. And here we have the idea for the restaurant on Dean Street which is also now famous for its jazz concerts.

Peter Boziot personally took care of the furnishing and look of about 85 restaurants in the following decades until his death in 2018. Ironic that with all the Italians present in London no one had had the courage to open a pizzeria and this task instead went to a Brit. Perhaps the Italians had decided that English people would never like pizza?  Think what you want of Pizza Express but it was the first pizzeria in London. Sometimes to break through you have to avoid absolute certainties and take a little risk.

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Food

Say Cheese! – What other food has the variety and versatility of cheese?

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The phrase dates back to 1943 when the Big Spring Herald newspaper in Texas encouraged people to use the word to induce a smile when having a photograph taken. Prior to that date, people were encouraged to look serious in photographs, and the word “Prunes” was used, which produced a tight closed mouth. Regardless of its use in photography, there are many reasons to smile when thinking of cheese.
 
What other food has the variety and versatility of cheese?  There are one thousand eight hundred types of cheese in the world and almost as many ways of classifying them. Starting with Cheddar, this is the most popular cheese in the UK, claiming 51% of the market. It is also the second most popular cheese in the USA, the most popular being Mortzarella.  Cheddar is named after the town in Somerset where it was first produced. Cheddar cheese is now produced commercially worldwide. Only West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, uses local milk, and since 2007, is a protected brand.
 
 
Imagine you are making up a cheeseboard. In my case I would of course, knowing its popularity, choose Cheddar. Then I would choose another English cheese, Stilton. This can only be produced in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, since a law was passed in 1993, protecting products made from traditional recipes, in a particular area.  Such a cheese is Yorkshire Wensleydale, a mild cheese traditionally enjoyed with fruitcake.  A third cheese I would add to my cheeseboard is Boursin, a soft creamy cheese, originally flavoured with garlic and herbs. This was first produced in 1957 by Francois Boursin in Normandy, France. 
 
Finally, I would choose Edam, a semi hard cheese with a low-fat content. This Dutch cheese was the world’s most popular cheese in the fourteenth and eighteen centuries. There are a wide variety of biscuits sold that are made to compliment cheeses, so I would make a selection of these available. A cheeseboard, apart from the enjoyment of the cheeses,  can make up for any culinary deficiencies in the preceding courses at a dinner table!
Apart from fine dining, there is also that great social event, the Wine and Cheese Party, where guests are able to help themselves to the perfect combination of wine and cheese.  There is no need for people on a low-fat diet to miss out on cheese.  Cottage Cheese, with zero fat content contains as much calcium as full fat cheese and is delicious with fruit.  A very small piece of full fat cheese, the size of a small matchbox is sufficient for daily calcium requirements, and unless the diet is very strict, enables the sampling of the cheeses. 
 
Cheese can be used in many ways in cooking. Just heat up the grill for a cheese toasty, or mix with pasta or rice, or use as a topping for a Jacket Potato. As well as being versatile, commercially produced Cheddar is also relatively cheap! A £2 slab will produce a variety of meals for several days, requiring very little preparation. I am tempted to say it has often saved my bacon!
 
Finally, there is a cheese, which is likely to raise a smile, but which I have never tasted. It is called “Stinking Bishop” It apparently has a distinctive odour, but the name derives from the Stinking Bishop Pear, which provides the Perry, used in the production process. (The Pear itself derived its name from a nineteenth century famer Frederich Bishop, who gained the name of “Stinking Bishop” due to his eccentric behaviour.)   Made from the milk of Gloucestershire cattle, only twenty tons are produced each year and it is not on sale in supermarkets. It is a handmade cheese and may be found in Harrods, or Fortnum’s, or artisan grocery shops. It can also be purchased online from Charles Martell & Son Ltd estd 1972, Cheesemakers and Distillers. 
 
Bon Appetit!

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Food

Boozy Croissant Pudding – Recipe

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I came across a basic recipe in a book after thinking I should find a way to use up stale croissants one Christmas holiday. However I tweaked it myself and invite you to do so using your favourite tipple or whatever is left in the dregs of your bottles !

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 stale croissants
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 250 mls of channel islands milk or a mix of double cream and  full fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons ( ok i tend to add rather a glug oe so extra!) Of your fave booze I LOVE amaretto or brandy.
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/gas mark 4/350ºF.
  2. Rip the croissants into pieces and put in a small dish
  3. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, mixing to dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob ,
  4. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it boil until it all turns a deep amber colour; this will take 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Turn heat down to low and add the milky mix and booze stirring carefully.
  6. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs.
  7. Pour the mixture over the croissants and leave for a few minutes so they soak up all the liquid.
  8. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and enjoy!

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