Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Longitude 20 >35 degrees: Global Feast arrives in Eastern Europe

Frank Fforde runs Rodborough supper club, from an eponymous village in Gloucestershire. His grandmother is half Polish so he is our guest chef for the Global Feast East European night. Since Eastern Europe joined the European Union and many came to live and work in Britain, we've seen the rise of the Polish shop. One of my favourite shops in Kilburn is called Where2sav (don't you just love shops with numbers in their names?), a Polish mini-mart with an intriguing dairy section full of strange sounding sour creams, shelves heaving with giant glass jars of pickles, and exotic but brutally named biscuits.

A cocktail of Krupnik (honey-spiced vodka)

Canapé: Buckwheat blinis with sweet herring, horseradish, salmon roe

Starter: Borscht with sour cream, garlic bread, Polish sausage or smoked cheese, lightly-pickled cucumber

Main: Golonka (pork knuckle) braised in beer, lightly-pickled vegetables, pierogi

Vegetarian: Coulibiac (Pithivier of mushrooms, eggs and rice)

Dessert: Baked cheesecake, Hungarian cherry soup, Ogl Mogl (honey foam)

By the way, Frank's mum is the celebrated 'chick-lit' novelist Katie Fforde, you have probably seen her novels in all the major supermarkets. Turns out Frank has never read one!
I have to say Frank's home made pickles were so moreish, there is nothing like a freshly pickled cauliflower floret, crunchy and acidic, so different from those in jars.
We are now onto the second week of Global Feast. I feel like I'm reporting from Scott's expedition to Antartica...provisions of energy are low, people are starting to snap at each other. I'm so tired I gave an order to my fruit and veg supplier and feel asleep in the middle of the phone message.
Logistically running an event in the middle of the Olympics is not easy: deliveries can only be made between midnight and 6 am. Orders have to made by 4pm the previous day which is hard when you don't know how many people are coming to eat. (People seem to book very last minute). Also provisioning for such varied menus each day is a full-time job and I'm already doing so many other jobs at Global Feast.
We have a core kitchen crew made of professionals and there is a culture clash between them and the supper club chefs. We don't know the lingo, we don't have the knife skills, we are not prepping machines but we are passionate and committed and creative, like tonight's supper club hostess, Selina of the Kuhama supper club, representing Tanzania and Ethiopia, who spent hours making handmade scrolled menus and individual canape trays from African cloth. Pros don't do that sort of thing, they bash it out, bish bash bosh. It's a macho environment still, the pro kitchen, and the often female gender of supper club chefs can struggle to be heard. Col, the old time battle hardened chef I brought in to support the supper clubs, and I are having to negotiate from our distant lands. He can go 'long and hard' as he says. So can I.
The important thing is that the guests are loving it.
Do come, if only to see if I'm still alive.

Pork knuckle braised in dark beer, dumplings, pickles, potatoes

Prepping mushroom pithivier, the veg option
Baked cheesecake, sour cherry soup
Bread rolls in Joseph Joseph bowls

Monday, 30 July 2012

19>25 degrees longitude: Africa by Arno Maasdorp: Global Feast

A plate full of sunshine: carrots cut into daisies, golden beetroot, marigold petals, yellow rose petals, pea shoots, pumpkin seeds, black sesame seeds, roast butternut squash, yellow cherry tomatoes, pineapple vinaigrette, avocado oil.

The fashionably hirsute Arno Maasdorp runs the Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton but he hails from South Africa. Last night he brought his innovative touch to Global Feast. He talked about how South African cuisine often has sweet and fruity flavours in their savoury dishes, and how he served polenta to represent this African staple food.

Raspberry muddled Courvoisier

Set Polenta with semi-dried tomatoes on a stick
Mussels in banana and saffron
Springbok carpaccio 
Meatballs in a cone

Sunshine salad as above 

Main course
Bobotie (a classic South African dish, a version of Shepherd's pie, sometimes cooked with curry spices)
Vegetable sosaties (kebabs) from the braai 
Herb salad
Sultana puree

Malva pudding, Granadilla curd and Melktert cream

It was very interesting to work with Arno, to see his design touches for the place settings, his energy and caustic humour and the flirting that occurred between him and head chef Col who he called "sweaty Betty". Service was tight and precise with very specific instructions going to front of house: "Each of you take one canape so that you know the dish" "Lay the table with the sharp edge of the knife facing inwards""Are you doing sweep service?" (which means you start one end and clear rather than clearing up here and there as people finish). Arno used to be a restaurant manager so we saw a bracing professionalism in attitude towards front of house in particular.
He also greatly enjoyed, as did our guests, the fantastic wine selection sent by Wines of South Africa. There was an intriguing range from minerally whites to heavy rounded reds.
Music was provided by Lanré, a Nigerian singer-songwriter who performed for me at The Underground Farmers' Market. She's a star in the making with her sweet soaring vocals, melodic haunting songs and funny wry stories about Nigerian life.
We also saw the remarkable Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor who performs under the name The Venus Bushfires who played an interesting and unusual metal drum. 
The love that has no name: Arno Maasdorp with his Springbok carpaccio and again with Col Rich, who has made Arno a sourdough loaf as a sweet present.
White chocolate dipped cape gooseberries with chocolate transfers; Arno's version of the table settings; the amazing dessert. I loved it, and I'm not even a cake person.
Sosaties, Boboties; Service; dressing the salad.
Venus Bushfires and Lanré
Fantastic plating and flavours from Arno Maasdorp of The Saltoun Supper Club
Coming up at Global Feast: £45 including alcohol.
Tonight Poland/Eastern Europe with Frank Fforde of the Rodborough supper club. Book here.
Saturday 4th of August: Chinese night with Cherry Smart of FedbyTang and Courtesan Dimsum. Book here.
Thursday 9th of August: North America by United Plates of America. Book here

Go here to see the range of nights Global Feast is offering.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

15>20 degrees longitude: Northern European night at the Global Feast

Fresh as a daisy, Swedish food.
We have arrived at longitude 15 degrees, Northern Europe, including Scandinavia, Germany and Austria.  Guest chef Linn Soderstrom from Hemma Hos Linn supper club in Stockholm flew over (courtesy of Visit Sweden) to cook at Global Feast last night.


Vodka from Chase Vodka (the only potato vodka made in the UK) with sour cherries from Linn's mother's garden.

Skagen Røra
Prawns with sour cream, dill, lemon
Cucumber, Mint, Tarragon gazpacho

Pickled herring from Lerøy in Sweden salad
paired with Grüner Veltliner wine from small winery Rabl, courtesy of Merry Widows wine who specialise in Austrian wines.

Main course:
Rump steak braised in Porter with carrots, potatoes, black currant sauce

Icecream with caramel and berries

German strawberry cheesecake from German supper club hostess Claudia Stachelhaus of White Room Supper Club

Salted liquorice from Sweden.

Early in the morning Linn went into my garden to pick flowers and onions. It's been great having supper club chefs like Linn and Aoife to stay. In the Global Feast kitchen, ideas, recipes, ingredients, tips and tricks are exchanged. We all love and obsess over food. This is what they mean by melting pot.
Book here for Global Feast.
 Oregano flowers and onions from the dewy Secret Garden Club
 Top left clockwise: herring salad; rump steak; gazpacho; caramel icecream with berries
Top left clockwise: Chives and chive flowers; strawberry cheesecake; salty liquorice; Swedish crispbread with home-made butter.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

0 degrees longitude: Olympic opening night at the Global Feast

Chef Col has a machine; it's called a 'rumbler'. When Chef Kiren turned up today, he nodded approvingly "that machine saves me £400 a week in wages. Before I employed someone just on potato peeling duty, but the rumbler does it now." He showed me: you just tip in the dirty potatoes with a jug of water. Around the sides of the machine is sandpaper. The potatoes dance, the sandpaper rubs off the skins, the water turns brown and the spuds emerge white and shorn, their virginal flesh showing beneath the hirsute clothing formed by months growing in dirt.
Col has lots of tricks. A lukewarm bottle of white wine? Put it in ice, throw a handful of salt into the water and the temperature will plummet in double quick time. 
Today was the turn of the British at the Global Feast for we arrive at 0 degrees longitude, Greenwich Mean Time. The line runs through Stratford, shimmying through the bed shop on the corner near Stratford Town Hall, where Global Feast is located. Aoife Behan, who comes from Ireland but lives in Edinburgh and runs a supper club called My home and has since expanded to roving pop up merchants Jelly & Gin, made canapes and the starter. The vegetarian haggis bonbons, sponsored by MacSween, went down a treat, as did her thick cut home-made oat cakes, topped with Isle of Mull cheddar from Neal's Yard Dairy and Aoife's beetroot chutney. I've never tasted haggis before, vegetarian or otherwise, and it is not scary at all, just good tasting.
Denise Baker-McClearn of the Moel Faban Secret supper club got the train from Wales to East London to represent the principality. She spent the morning baking: Bara Brith tea loaves for icecream and gingerbread infused with exotic flavours, part of Britain's seafaring past, from Steenbergs Organic Fair trade spices. 
My contribution was fish, chips and peas served in a cartographical cone with a dollop of home-made tartare sauce, piquante with gherkins and capers.
Later, as light faded, a roar grew overhead, heads shot up as a flypast zoomed over, trailing red, white and blue. Champagne and Courvoisier cocktails were served as Danny Boyle's affecting opening ceremony beamed across the table. If you couldn't be there, Global Feast, right next door in Stratford, was the next best thing.
British menu:
Cocktails from Courvoisier

Oat cakes with Isle of Mull cheddar, beetroot chutney.
Tartlettes with Welsh shitake mushrooms, and oak smoked tomatoes.
Marmite on toast with silver leaf.

Mixed leaf salad with Strathdon blue cheese, pickled cherries and radishes, toasted oats and violas.

Pollock in beer batter, twice cooked chips, petits pois à l'anglaise and tartare sauce.

Bara Brith icecream, gingerbread, vanilla caramel with a shot of Welsh whisky from Penderyn

Globe pops

Bottom pic: some guests reserved their seats off the coast of Africa. "We thought we'd be a bit like the Germans and their beach towels reserving the sunloungers first thing in the morning"
Claudia Stachelhaus of the White Room Supper Club and left: the map cone of chips looks remarkably like the Olympic Torch!
Tonight is the turn of Northern Europe with Sweden's Linn Soderstrom of Hemma Hos Linn supper club and German Claudia Stachelhaus of White Room Supper Club, paired with excellent Austrian wine from Merry Widows. 

Book here for the rest of the world

Friday, 27 July 2012

Mediterranean night Global Feast Day 2

Tonight's supper club hosts were The Italian supper club, a group of Italians who live in London and love to cook. They made fresh pasta lasagne al pesto, pane cunzato and rose water pannacotta. Cinzia Ghighoni, the new head chef of the table cafe, baked ciabatta and made an octopus salad. We started with a Rebujito, my favourite summer time cocktail, with Tio Pepe fino sherry, lemonade, and plenty of ice.

As I left Stratford Old Town Hall I walked through Westfields Shopping centre to the tube. People on roller skates whipped past, there is a whole skating culture there at night. Worth a visit for the balletic moves in and out of the shoppers, pliés next to the pound shop, an arabesque outside the fried chicken joint. 

Book for opening night on Friday.

Book for other nights here.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Global Feast: West Africa; the raw and the cooked

Chef Chris Massamba has a very London story; originally from the Congo he moved to Hackney and was inspired by the food of the other immigrants to the East End (Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi) and this informed and influenced his native African cuisine. Concerned with the provenance of food, healthy eating and animal rights, Chris became not only a vegan but it's militant wing: raw vegan.
Raw foodists believe cooking is harmful. Heating a food above 40 to 50 degrees, they say, destroys the digestive enzymes, removing the healthy vital components. There are many different kinds of raw food diets spanning veganism (the most popular), fruitarians, sproutarians (only eat sprouted food), juicearians, and, really bizarre, raw animal foodists who only eat raw eggs, meat, fish, seafood and raw dairy. Academics debate whether the big brain of our species is down to the development of cooking or the addition of meat and fish to the human diet. (The first evidence of humans using fire to cook occurred about a half a million years ago in China).
West African menu: 

Bissap (hibiscus) Drink
Infused drink with lemongrass, orange peel, vanilla, lemon thyme, dates, cinnamon and cloves

African Nori Rolls

Raw Hummus
Made with sprouted chick peas, raw tahini, smoked paprika

Raw Babaganoush
With raw Aubergine, sun dried pepper, raw tahini

Marinated Banana Plantain

Agusi Seed Pate in Wine leaves

 Main Course
Saka –Saka
Cassava leaves stew with coconut, plantain, apple, courgettes

Broken basmati Rice pilaf
Chikwang – cassava paste rolled in Banana leaves
Fried chips – yam, plantain, sweet potato

Raw coconut and Papaya Panacotta
with fresh sweet green puree, coconut and flax crisp

Some of the dishes, I'll be frank, were a little challenging to my palate, it was all so new and off the scale in terms of food experiences. Raw hummus for instance, tastes ...green....with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The raw baba ghanoush grew on me. The African nori rolls were fantastic, as was the marinated banana plaintain. The only cheaty bit was the rice pilaff which we cooked. Normally raw foodists would only soak the rice, in fact any grains, to make them digestible, rather than cooking them.
Chris requested vegan wines with the meal. Yes there is such a thing, for many wines contain fish scales and blood. I didn't know how hard-core the guests would be so I thought it best to be on the safe side.
Vegan chefs use a Vitamix machine and other specialist equipment such as dehydrators (which dry food) to process raw food. When I tweeted that Vitamix had lent Global Feast a couple of their machines, there was much jealousy and interest from chefs. How is the Vitamix different from just a blender? I'm not sure yet, I will find out as Global Feast progresses through the world cuisines, but it can grind seeds, create smooth sauces from anything, make soup and conversely, ice cream.
This melting pot of cuisines, one of the more positive legacies of Britain's colonial past, is a running theme throughout Global Feast, which is why it is a true celebration of London, during our turn to host the Olympic games.
Another highlight of last night, was the delivery from The Fresh Herb Company who have sponsored our fresh herbs. We are going to be using a huge range of fresh herbs as possible throughout the run, I'm a great believer in 'greening up' a dish. Fresh herbs transform any food; I remember when people thought it was acceptable to add dried parsley, generally a sticky dusty pot found in the back of a cupboard, to food rather than scissoring or pinching the leaves onto the food.
Herbs are also decorative: we used some of the pots from the Fresh Herb Company to create 'forests' and 'jungles' on the table. This was a pleasure for the eyes and the nose, the scents and oils of mint, basil, thyme and oregano wafting over the worldscape.
Book for tonight's Mediterranean night !  (with the Italian supper club and Cinzia Ghighoni from the table cafe

Book ahead for other nights.
Clockwise L to R: the Andean 'wall' on the South America tip; from the artic circle; green jungles from The Fresh Herb Co. and see our wonderful leek-shaped salt/pepper grinders 'No Spill Mill'  from Joseph Joseph. Love tableware! 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kitchen table hydroponics

Mixed salad seedlings growing hydroponically, without soil.

Growing plants hydroponically, or without soil, is a clean, and resource-efficient way to successfully raise a variety of produce. Yet it seems to be viewed with a great deal of suspicion in many quarters. This extract, from Green Harvest, an Australian website, is reasonably typical:

"A large quantity of the salad greens available in the supermarket are grown hydroponically, the complete opposite of organically. Hydroponics is a growing system that bypasses the soil in favour of a 'nutrient soup' made from chemical fertilisers fed directly to the plants. The lettuces in the supermarket might look like a lettuce but chemical cocktail might be a better description."

I don't know what they put in bagged salad in Australian supermarkets, but I wonder what the author thinks soil consists of, if it's not a chemical cocktail itself.

Conventionally grown plants have their roots in soil, which is typically made up of minute rock particles, organic matter (material which was once living, now decayed) and water. The more fertile the soil, the more chemically rich it will be, especially in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, the three main nutrients needed by plants.

However, the soil isn't necessary for plant growth; it's only there as the medium for delivering water and nutrients to the roots. Hydroponic growing eliminates the soil and concentrates on getting water and nutrients directly to the roots.

Growing hydroponically isn't the "complete opposite" of organic growing. You can incorporate many organic elements into a hydroponic set-up - using organic coir as a growing medium, for example. I suspect that what makes people suspicious of hydroponic systems is the micro-managed nature of it.

What an organic philosophy and hydroponic growing have in common is the desire for sustainability. Both methods are far less fuel-intensive than using manufactured fertilisers. Organic systems aim to reduce soil erosion and exhaustion with the addition of organic matter; in many hydroponic systems, the growing medium can be reused many times. For example, perlite, the rock granules which are often used to anchor the roots, can be sterilised in a microwave and then used again for the next batch of hydroponically-grown seedlings. The micro-management that delivers precisely the nutrients needed to the growing plants also means there is far less waste.

If you look around on the Internet you'll find off-puttingly long lists of technical equipment required for a hydroponic set-up: pumps, filters, hoses, lights. You would be forgiven for thinking it's less like growing plants and more like a laboratory experiment.

However, much of the expensive and hi-tech kit is needed for hydroponic growing on an industrial or commercial scale. To successfully grow salad leaves an herbs on a windowsill, some pots, water and a soil-less growing medium is all you really need. And your 'nutrient soup' of course.

+ Sustainable
+ Efficient use of resources - less waste
+ Takes up relatively little space, with high yields
+ Versatile – does not need fertile soil, can be grown anywhere
+ Cleaner to maintain

- Cannot be called organic
- Lot of management required to get the balance right
- Leaching if not managed properly
- Only suitable for some plants

We used a simple base kit from The Achiltibuie Garden. Based in the north-west highlands of Scotland, this company specialises in developing hydroponic growing systems for domestic use. Many of their systems are modular, so that you can add extra units to the base kit if your needs increase. This windowsill kit shown below, is good for raising salad cut-and-come-again leaves and herbs.

The kit: long plastic trough and four pots. The growing medium, a mix of perlite and vermiculite, containers with liquid nutrients and four packets of seeds.

The absorbent material which fits into the slotted base of each pot will take up water and the liquid nutrients into the pots.

The pots are filled with the perlite/vermiculite. This growing medium is there to anchor the roots and so keep the plants stable. Its structure means there is still air held in the growing medium and its ability to hold water means the plants can access the liquid feed.
Seeds are sown in each pot and lightly covered with more perlite/vermiculite.

The pots are covered to keep the seeds dark until germination. The funnel in the middle delivers water to the base of the trough, from where it can be taken up by the absorbent wicks protruding below each pot.

First signs of germination.
Once germinated the seedlings are covered with a strip of fleece to provide a protective 'micro-climate'.

Topping up the water beneath each pot via the funnel.
Our seedlings ten days after germination. From the bottom up: chervil, dill, salad mix and lamb's lettuce.

We'll be discussing hydroponic growing in more detail in a future Secret Garden Workshop, looking at ways to set up a simple system in a restricted space and the most suitable plants for this kind of set-up. Keep an eye on our Events pages for scheduled dates.

Further reading
Highly detailed discussion of hydroponic tomato growing, including a history of hydroponic development.

Sustainability of hydroponics, roof top gardening, using excess heat from air-conditioning units
The Achiltibuie Garden website, addressing issues of sustainability

A detailed overview of hydroponic systems.

Around the world in 20 supper clubs: Global Feast Day 1

The table finally emerged as something you could eat on approximately 30 minutes before the press arrived.
Map paper roses arrived painstakingly crafted by Dionne Leonard so did A to Z chrysanthemums by the PomPom factory. Together with the cartography poppies made by Achillea flowers, the table, perhaps I should call it The Table, it merits capitalisation, looked dressed, like an alien but beautiful landscape.
I've been searching for map-type fabric to make, ta da! the mapkins. I imported the material from the US but have struggled to find enough. Any readers that have a source of map fabric, get in touch. My dressmaker Ruth Bennett managed to make me a map dress and 50 n/mapkins but we need more.
Swedish supper club hostess Linn Soderstrom flew in from Stockholm with a suitcase full of herring. Flying on Norwegian airways, she was obliged to wear all her clothes on the flight to avoid excess baggage charges.
The rest of the chefs turned up with their canapés. One, Selina Rajan, wore a Tanzanian ball gown and looked stunning, especially when she revealed that her GBF had made it out of a tablecloth! What a talented bunch our guest chefs are! I can't remember having such interesting and creative canapés at a press reception.  Here are a selection of photos, plated on pages from an atlas. Seriously delish.

Courvoisier set up a bar for the night, with a cooling punch.
Finally, the global cake pops looked good. Although some melted in the hot car journey to Stratford.
Tonight is the first dinner. Chris Massamba, who hails from the Congo originally, is our guest chef who will give us a culinary tour around West African cuisine. I had some of his african sushi rolls last night, a brilliant fusion.
Book for tonight

Book here for other nights. We are spanning the globe so there is something for everyone.

See you at the Global Feast!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Dig this - potatoes and garlic fresh from the soil

We planted garlic at the Secret Garden Club back in December - on the shortest day of the year, as is traditional. Continual rain and cool temperatures aren't ideal for garlic, but our bulbs have survived and swelled well.

Once dug up, the bulbs need all that excess soil removed. Usually, in July, it's a case of rubbing off dryish dirt; this year the mud needed to be washed off. Garlic can be eaten fresh, but to store bulbs, hang them up somewhere light and airy to dry out until the outer skin is papery - about 2-3 weeks.

In February, we planted our Secret Garden Club potatoes in a bin-bag - an easy space-saving way to raise a crop of spuds. Again, the weather hasn't been very helpful; normally, we would harvest these early Lady Christl potatoes from mid-June. This year they have been about a month late to develop to a decent size. 

The crop can be harvested just by up-ending the  bag in which they have grown. The compost using for growing the potatoes makes an excellent top dressing for the winter.

If you attended our garlic workshop back in December or the potato masterclass in February, do let us know here how you got on with raising your own produce. We'll be harvesting our onions and maincrop potatoes next month - a good few days of sun now should just finish the onions off nicely.

Press Day #globalfeast

Yesterday, after a month of rain, the sun shone. Suddenly, Stratford looks just fine. The kitchen has come down from Lincolnshire, with Col Rich, who worked for me at Bestival last year, and has been installed.
There were glitches: the walk-in cold room (cheaper and more efficient than say, getting 3 fridges) wouldn't fit at the back of the kitchen and is now jutting out at the front. Although the gap was measured, they reckoned without an iron post on one side and a step on the other.
The build or, as those in the event biz call it, the 'get in', is always satisfying. Suddenly that project you've been working on for months or weeks looks almost feasible.
In a parallel world, I wonder how it must feel to be Danny Boyle right now. He's the designer and choreographer of the Olympic opening ceremony. Whatever my worries and frustrations, his must be on a mammoth scale. Things are never quite as you expect them to be.
At the entrance to Global Feast, there is an Olympic information booth, with the London Olympic colours, a bright fluo pink. Around it are a pink telephone box (in the classic GPO style) and other pink painted furniture. It had to be sent back yesterday, it was all the slightly wrong shade of pink. Three thousand of these pink telephone boxes have been sent around London and they all have to be collected and repainted, in time for the opening ceremony.
The table: is being built. Imagine the most complex Ikea kit ever. The diagrams are mind-boggling. Fortunately numbers have been intricately scored into the table, which makes it easier to put together. One of the build volunteers, a lovely Spanish guy called Hannibal, is so excited: "I LOVE this!" he said "This project is so fantastic! I am so happy to be doing this". He's an architect himself, and he is in seventh heaven.
Global Feast is a marriage of design and food. When I was casting around for guest chefs, concentrating on supper clubs from around the world, one of the first people to say yes was Yuki Gomi of the Japanese supper club Yuki's kitchen. Her husband is an architect. "He said I must say yes" said Yuki. "It is very interesting". 
As well as organising the chefs and menus, I've been tapping up all my contacts for sponsors. No money but very generous actual stuff. On the right, Green pans are fantastic, a healthy ceramic surface non-stick pan that I will use throughout Global Feast and Bestival. On the left, a far cry from my usual junk shop vintage style, bright modern plastics from Joseph Joseph and Bodum that go perfectly with this worldscape table. 
Later today we will have our press launch. Twenty supper clubs and chefs will be bringing canapes from around the world. I've been sourcing maps and cutting them out with scalloped craft scissors, I will try to plate the appropriate canape on the appropriate map. Trouble was, it's easier to find road maps of Slough than it is of say, Tanzania, where one supper club hostess, Selina Rajan of Kuhama supper club hails from. Some of the exotic canapés may be nestling upon some very pedestrian road maps.

I love fresh flowers but they cost, so for table decorations I called upon talented crafters to make paper flowers from maps. Clare of my favourite local flower shop Achillea Flowers made some blousy poppies from a large scale A to Z. Dionne Leonard, a contact from Twitter, is sending some map roses.
The teen spent Sunday making global cake pops. Last night we decorated them, painstakingly trying to render them as geographically accurate as possible. There is nothing like staring at a globe for hours, trying to paint the continents in green chocolate on a blue ball of cake, to make you truly absorb the shape of our world. Hawaii! It's so far away, so isolated. Bang in the middle of the Pacific, in the big blue stretch of sea that separates a third of the globe, from the Americas to Europe. Australia, we decided, looked like a peanut shape. This led onto a discussion about global maps. I remember when I travelled through Tibet, seeing an unrecognisable world map, where China was central. Australia, on the other hand, up-ends the globe, refusing to be down under. "Who's to say what North is?" 
"Er, the compass?" I retort.
But it is true that the familiar worldscape is Northern and Eurocentric. Britain is almost as large as Spain.

Clockwise L to R: Hannibal points to his home town in Spain; coast; a Brazil shirt dumped on Brazil; layers