Monday, 31 March 2014

Malva pudding, a comforting South African dessert

I have attempted to recreate a marvellously comforting winter pudding made by Jeannette, the housekeeper at the La Plaisante estate. Malva pudding is a classic South African dish, similar to sticky toffee pudding. Out of the rainbow that is South African cooking, the malva pudding comes from the Netherlands, but on African farms, it is often served on Christmas Day, middle of the summer for them. Go to lovefood.com for the recipe and more info!
Jeanette making Malva pudding

Saturday, 29 March 2014

February/March bites: Connaught hotel, Gymkhana, Afternoon tea at Browns, Claudia Roden, Paul A Young


This is where I've been spending most of my time the last few months, writing, at this rather messy, book-jumbled desk, in my nightie. Sometimes I attach an apron to my body, over the nightie, and go to the kitchen to test some of my recipes. (My nighties are all stained with food). As a freelancer, I don't need any proper outdoor clothes, I see-saw from nightwear to apron. But writing several books on the trot since last summer, I've practically got night blindness, so seldom do I leave the house. But here is a brief diary of what I've been up to in London in February and March, (aside from visiting South Africa and Botswana which was a welcome break).

Breakfast at the Connaught:
I won a night at the Connaught Hotel as a prize at the annual 'galette des roi' party hosted by chef Helene Darroze. I thought it was the perfect place to celebrate my daughter's 20th birthday, The Teen no more. They really pushed the boat out, giving us a suite, champagne, a cake. In the room, there was a mirrored lit cocktail cabinet, a telly in the bathtub, large heavy expensive art and photography books to leaf through, a George Clooney coffee machine with a dish of chocolate covered cocoa beans. Below is our butler. He told us a little about the history of the hotel; it was named after the Duke of Connaught, formerly Saxe-Coburg, a son of Queen Victoria, who changed his name into something less Germanic after the first world War. In fact there is an error in the book 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulkes, where one of the characters refers to staying at the Connaught, when the name at the time would have been The Saxe-Coburg. On each dark pannelled, gold embossed stairwell, there is a portrait of a dog. The staff wear small pewter badges of a hounds head, to signify fidelity and service. Later we went downstairs to swim and use the steam room. We met two gentlemen in the steam room. I was so curious about the other guests, what did they do? How can they afford this hotel? It's such a different world for me. I asked these men 'what is your job?' and they hesitated a long time before proferring 'dentistry'. Are dentists that rich?
It was interesting to see London from a visitor's point of view, albeit a rather well off visitor. The Connaught is a time capsule, a Victorian hotel, in the centre of an area of London the ordinary Londoner never visits, Mayfair. Around the corner was the restaurant Scott's, the scene of the end of Nigella and Charles Saatchis marriage last summer, and the regular haunt where he is taking his new girlfriend, Trinny Woodall. But blanching slightly at the Mayfair prices of the main courses, we went to the local Spaghetti House, where I had spaghetti vongole which was really pretty good, but, as usual, not enough white wine in the sauce.
The next morning we had breakfast in the crescent shaped sunlit breakfast room at the front of the Connaught Hotel. You could have a Japanese breakfast for £36, a champagne and caviar breakfast for just under £500, and various other options. I chose the healthy 'well being' breakfast, very unlike me, but even that was extravagant and luxurious: a tiered stand of home-made yoghurt, home-made granola bars, creamy porridge, exotic fruit salad, and freshly squeezed carrot juice. Behind us a table of businessmen were having a morning meeting. Amazing really that some people are so busy they can only meet for breakfast. I kept trying to eavesdrop to see how it was going. I don't think the meeting went well, as the person who came to meet them left quite quickly.




Lunch at Gymkhana:
After the Connaught I walked around the corner to have lunch at Gymkhana, the latest project of chef  Karam Sethi, owner of Trishna, where I had one of the best Indian dishes of my life, a coriander crusted sea bream. This Edwardian style dining room with wooden booths was very elegant, but they did that usual thing of trying to shove us down in the dark basement but I insisted on eating upstairs. I don't want to eat my food in the dark, nor do I appreciate noisy music. This is a real issue for me in restaurants, if I'm meeting someone, want to talk, I don't want background music unless it is very low and unobtrusive. I always feel the music is there to entertain and stimulate the staff rather than the guests who end up exhausted after spending a couple of hours bellowing at each other, as in a nightclub. My mother, who is very deaf, chooses restaurants nowadays on the basis of acoustics rather than food. Food may be the new rock n roll but let's not take it too far. I want an assault on my taste buds not my ear drums. Plus I like to see my food, I want daylight not murky darkness, because I like to photograph my food for this blog. (Any chefs who are arguing with that are moronic. If I instagram my food, I'm publicising your restaurant.)
That said, lunch was incredibly reasonably priced: £20 for two courses, £25 for three for very good quality cooking, including wine although there is also a decent wine list. I ordered the potato chat for starters, a street food, crunchy mouthfuls, into which you pour tamarind coriander water from a jug. I repeated my favourite, the coriander sea bream for mains and had a really good Rose Kulfi with basil seeds for dessert. I loved the chinaware, all pastel willow patterns and antiqued silver. I would like to go back to try the dinner menu.

In March, transport union leader Bob Crowe and veteran MP and campaigner Tony Benn died. Felt very sad about both of them, it was like the passing of a certain kind of proper left-winger. You knew what you were getting with both of them, none of that PR/spinning bullshit. Here is a touching tribute I spotted at Green Park station on the way back from Gymkhana.

Tea at Browns:
I used to love afternoon tea at Browns because they did hot buttered tea cakes. I believe all teas should have a hot element, and my forthcoming book will certainly be banging the drum in that regard. Browns not only have forgone the tea cakes, but serve rather disappointing Victoria Sponge which was, frankly, stale. Plus the tea pot stand was too far away and I got the feeling one had to wait for the staff to serve. I want regular top-ups of fresh tea, not stewed stuff. I expect to down at least four cups during an afternoon tea party. The rooms are still cosy, with an old school Gentleman's club vibe, including roaring fires, in contrast to the pastel and gold flecked elegance of the Ritz, but the food was a disappointment, especially at the 40 odd quid you have to spend. The very least you require from an afternoon tea is excellent baking. The scones were ok, small enough to pop in your mouth, but the sandwiches were unimaginative and the petits fours passable.

Chocolate with Paul A Young: 
From Browns I walked to chocolatier Paul A Young's Soho premises where he was doing a talk and demonstration of his new chocolate bar. Paul is always fascinating to listen to, passionate and knowledgeable about his subject. He's been working on forming relationships with growers to produce his own chocolate, roasted and ground on his premises in London, using the whole bean, shell and all. #Bean to Bar. The results are intense: slightly gritty but not unpleasantly so, with a deep fermented flavour and acidity. He gave me some cocoa beans and I immediately set to work on trying to grind them in my Vitamix at home. I'm working on some recipes.

A visit to Hampton Court and the newly discovered chocolate kitchen:
Paul A Young is a modern day chocolatier in a grand tradition. I'm surprised he doesn't have his own little room in Buckingham Palace where he alone, of all the kitchen staff, is allowed to take up a daily silver handled pot of hot chocolate to the queen. If I were queen, this is definitely a custom I would reinstate. For years at Hampton Court they used these rooms as store rooms, fortunately the shelving and ovens were left in good condition, they have now restored them to their 17th century grandeur.
Also in attendance during the chocolate making demonstration, was author Neil Davey, who has just brought out a book on chocolate, a perfect present for Easter 'The bluffer's guide to chocolate'. Here he is below, discussing chocolate techniques.

Please Hampton Court, start reproducing some of this stuff as homeware.
This wooden 'whisk' is remarkably similar to the 'Molinillo' that they sell in Mexico today for the same purpose. 
A pretty picture of the Hampton Court entrance. You really must visit, nowadays you can see all the kitchens, and there are mini reenactments of tudor scenes.
A selection of hot chocolate: Georgian, Victorian, Aztec and modern day white chocolate with pomegranate seeds.
Do love a gift shop. 
Supper with Claudia Roden and Tim Anderson:
Square Peg, the publishers of my forthcoming book 'MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party' held a supper club at The Ship pub in Wandsworth, the meal cooked by their authors. Myself, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and the great Claudia Roden made dinner. We all did mini-speeches before serving our course: Claudia talked about how she used to work for Air Italia for £6 a week and a few free flights. This gave her the opportunity to visit Italy often, learn about their food. A new edition of her classic book The Food of Italy has just been published. Claudia made a squid salad and pepperonata as a starter.
Later, when I was prepping my course, I asked the kitchen at The Ship if they knew who she was. They didn't, so I explained 'basically you've had one of the top food writers, ever, in the world, in your kitchen'.

American chef Tim Anderson won Masterchef in 2011. He's very influenced by Asian, particularly Japanese food but for his first book he will be creating 'Japanese soul food', a more country style version of Japanese food, unpretentious, full of flavour, and achievable for the western home cook. For the main course, he made ramen with tea pickled eggs, gorgeous stuff.


I made dessert, a camp pud, an arctic baked alaskan roll with sour cherry icecream. A high risk dish  which I transported from Kilburn to Wandsworth, an hour away, terrified it would melt. People seemed to enjoy it. The recipe for this will be in the book.

Dinner at Vijay, Willesden Lane:
Kilburn is not great for restaurants. But Vijay is an exception, a southern Indian restaurant at the beginning of Willesden Lane. I went there on a Saturday night with my sister and daughter, it was packed. The food is all freshly made and the sheer vivacity of the flavours bear testament to that. That's all I ask of a restaurant really, that it be freshly cooked. Try the uthapam, a Southern Indian spicy crumpet thing. My recipe for it is here. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

A wine column and a Mothers Day recipe for champagne cake

Winetrust100.com is a new (less than a year since the launch) wine buying site with a constantly evolving list of 100 wines chosen by MW Nick Adams, at very reasonable prices. I'm going to be writing a monthly column, my thoughts on wine and food, from the perspective of a cook.
To celebrate Mother's Day, my first post will be a recipe for champagne cake, a classy but boozy home-made gift that most mums would appreciate. What would your mother like as a gift this Sunday? Does your mum have a particular wine that she likes?
See the recipe for champagne cake here. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Eggs and how to cook them




I did this Google Hangout with Britmums and other 'eggspert' food bloggers, all about eggs. I talk about how to tell if an egg is fresh, how to avoid the green 'rim' around a boiled egg, some simple recipes and the symbolic meaning of the egg in medieval art. It is also an interesting thought that all eggs are created by females, although some male fishes 'carry' the eggs until hatching.
It was great fun doing a hangout, lets do more!
Here are links to the recipes I was referring to:

Japanese rolled omelette recipe

Plum clafoutis recipe

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Recipe for cod with Bengali lime




I'm a little bit obsessed with citrus. I've even tried to grow some with limited success: the Meyer lemon tree produced just one delicately floral lemon then promptly died. The kaffir lime bush is no more. The kumquat plant is deceased never to garnish my stove with saumon en papillote again. 
I'm still on the lookout for fresh yuzu, I expended much energy a couple of years ago, trying to persuade grapefruit farmers to grow fresh yuzu. This is only available in Japan, but you can get the paste and nowadays the juice here. Even Jamie Oliver talked about it on his show, so yuzu is entering the mainstream as an ingredient. 
My latest citrus crush is Bengali lime. For about £1.40 you can buy a large knobbly green lime, in any area, like Whitechapel in London, where Bengalis live and shop. It's totes amaze balls. 
Dig your thumbnail into the flesh and sniff, you are transported to more exotic climes. The scent filled my kitchen when I used it to flavour roast cod. I think it is called 'Gondhoraj Lebu' in Bengali. But they might also be called 'Shatkora' according to Kavey's blog. Reading the comments on her blog, it is clear that there is a whole universe of Asian citrus to discover.
I trod carefully at first with the Bengali lime with this simple cod recipe, but then started to add the zest and juice to everything, including jam. The shopkeepers told me that Bengalis just eat the lime raw, with curry, or in a kachumber-like salad, or in a pickle. 

Roast cod with Bengali lime, dill and soba noodles.
For two

75ml Olive oil
2 x 200g filet of cod, pinned, skinned
1 Bengali lime, cut into slices
Salt
Fresh dill, chopped finely
1 stick of soba noodles (they are sold in bundles)

Preheat the oven to 200cº. On an olive oiled baking tray, place your cod filets, Add a slice of Bengali lime to the top of the fish, put the rest in the baking tin. Season with salt and fresh dill. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. 
Prepare a saucepan of salted boiling water, plunge the soba noodles into the water. Cook for five minutes then drain the noodles into a colander. Rinse with cold water.
Remove the roasted cod from the oven, reserving the liquid.
Plating: twirl the noodles in the centre of the plate, place the piece of cod on top. Ladle some of the bengali lime flavoured olive oil (the cooking juice) around the fish and noodles. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Introduction to ingredients from Southern Africa

The native diet of Southern africa is squash, corn, beans and of course meat, sometimes in the form of biltong. Not dissimilar, in fact, to the Three Sisters dietary triumvirate of the native American Indian. I'm an ingredients freak, always on the lookout for something new. Here is a list of some of the new foods I discovered in Southern Africa.

 Baobab seeds:
Culinary qualities: a good thickener, rather fruity and acidic, the seeds are sometimes roasted for coffee.
Where to buy: these can be obtained at The Eden project where they are growing a baobab tree, often called the 'upside down' tree as its branches look like roots.
Medicinal qualities: antioxidants, mosquito repellent, good for asthma.

Rooibos tea:
This 'bush tea' is not actually tea in the strict sense. It can only be grown in the Western Cape area, it's been attempted elsewhere and failed. I have long loved the refreshing taste of this tea. Unlike traditional tea, it contains no tannins so you can leave the bag in the cup. There are other hybrids being grown such as honeybush tea which is sweeter. Mma Ramotswe of the No 1 Ladies Detective agency is a big fan. Every morning she has a cup while walking around her garden.
Culinary qualities: a great hot drink
Where to buy: most British supermarkets stock this.
Medicinal qualities: antioxidant, makes you younger

Mielies is the word used for corn on the cob, but not sweetcorn. This corn is white and starchier with larger kernels . It can be steamed or roasted as with sweetcorn or dried and ground into meal.

Mielie meal or pap. I grew to love this, it's very much like polenta but even nicer, smoother, almost like tapioca. You can have it savoury or sweet as in porridge for the morning. Like polenta you can cook it stiff or looser. I formed a stiff pap into a loaf, sliced it and braid the slices, adding a cool pear, lime and avocado salsa. Traditionally it is cooked with a special instrument, a rod not unlike a spurtle, but with whisk-like wires attached. Like polenta it comes in different grades; fine to coarse.
NGO's and health professional are recommending e'Pap, a fortified vitamin porridge is given to HIV patients. The argument being that in Africa, people are not dying of HIV as such but from malnutrition. (More info here)
Where to buy: The South African shop
Samp is cracked polished mielie kernels often prepared with beans. This is the sort of food that ex-pat Saffas get homesick for.
Where to buy: The South African Shop

Sorghum flour or millet or mabella. This is a sturdy crop, resistant to drought and extreme heat. It's the basic food of Botswana, although they often import pap from South Africa. You can get it in a range of colours from white, cream, brown or red. It is pretty much gluten-free. Again like pap it is cooked as a porridge, either liquid or stiff.
Where to buy: The South African Shop

Groundnuts: I only recently found out that peanuts are groundnuts! (As opposed to tree nuts). But true groundnuts have a sphere-like shell. I tasted some fresh ones and they were bean-like, a legume. They must be boiled or roasted. These are used in soups, stews and as peanut butter. Post-war the British government, desperate for new, cheap foods for the still rationed British, started a scheme in Tanzania, then called The Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme. It was a disaster, nobody really liked groundnuts here and the crops didn't thrive. It is used in cosmetics and for oil.
Where to buy: I've seen them in tins and dried at African shops in Shepherds Bush and in Deptford.

Waterlilies or 'tswii': used in Botswana cuisine as a seasoning, an almost imperceptible deepening of flavours in a stew. It is the bulbs or rhizome that is used, then dried.
Where to buy: I can't find it here but you could always construct a pond and plant it?

Herbs and seasonings:

Buchu: this is a mint-like herb used for teas or as a garnish in South African food.
Where to buy: Holland and Barrett.
Kapokbos: wild rosemary with cotton bush like flowers.

Greens:

Rape: I used the leaves of the rape seed plant in curries. They are sturdier than spinach but not too dissimilar.

Pumpkin leaves: this is also a common vegetable used in African stews.

Fruit:

Marula: this are often eaten dried as in 'stix' or used in the South African liqueur 'Amarula' which is a bit like Baileys. You can eat the flesh or the nut or extract oil from it. In Gabarone, I saw monkeys picking on the ripe fruits, they may even get drunk on the fermenting fruit. On my safari in the Botswana delta, we camped under a Marula tree, the ground below festooned with the football-like turds of the elephant, studded with Marula fruit. During the night, elephants came into our camp to continue snacking.
Where to buy: you can buy them as an oil or in the form of a liqueur called Amarula.

Sour fig: the fruit of a succulent plant growing in the Cape.
Where to buy: online at The South African Shop.

Numnum: natal plum, a sour plum that grows wild. The fruit can be stewed, added to porridge or made into a fruit soup. I interviewed Franschhoek-based chef Margot Hanse of 'Le Quartier Francais' restaurant The Tasting Rooms. She tries to use native African ingredients and to fuse them with modern cooking techniques. The numnum, like the fig, contains edible latex in the skin. While the fruit is delicious, the rest of the plant is very poisonous.
Where to buy: you can buy the plant!
Mebos: salty sour apricots
Where to buy: at St. Marcus Fine South African foods

Monday, 10 March 2014

South African fruit: why you should buy it

South Africa's beautiful colourful stone fruit, plums, on the Babylonstoren farm
I've just spent the last week visiting fruit farmers in South Africa. I visited the orchards, the packing houses, the headquarters of their trade organisation (Hortgro), the houses of both farmers and workers, and projects for the workers. The latter included creches, nursery schools, soup kitchens, housing and medical programs. The biggest export market for South African fruit farmers is the UK and Europe, we are the closest Northern Hemisphere market for them. These guys, from the land of the big five (lions, elephants, rhinocerous, buffalo, leopard) talk to our big five supermarkets all the time (Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda, Sainsburys). Here is a primer on what I learnt during my trip. Please feel free to comment below.
The Pink Lady apple
Why buy fruit in South Africa?
Seasonality: hey we have lots of marvellous British fruit, why are we buying their produce?
Their season doesn't clash with ours. Our apples have run out by November, even the ones kept in cold storage. The South African/Southern Hemisphere fruit season starts in January, running through to June. If we want fresh fruit, we are obliged to import them.
The problem for South African fruit farmers is that we don't associate fruits like peaches, nectarines, even plums, with winter food, we associate them with summer. They want us to eat their fruit during their season, when their fruit is ripe. Check out my plum clafoutis recipe here, a lovely warming winter pudding.
Food miles: isn't this bad? Getting food from abroad? Aren't we all supposed to source our food locally?
99% of South African fruit is shipped not flown. Once it's picked and packed, it's loaded into cool containers on ships and taken to the UK/Europe/the Middle East. As I said before, we are their closest Northern Hemisphere neighbours. Similar fruit grown in South America, gets exported to the North American market, Australian fruit is shipped to Asia, for example.
A township shop


Hail damage in the apples

Economically: buying South African fruit is helpful for the South African economy. The only way that a post-apartheid South Africa is going to work is if there are jobs. (Approximately one job is created per hectare of fruit farm). If parts of Europe are suffering from poverty and unemployment, you can believe that life is a whole lot tougher for South Africans. It's true that many of the farmers are white, and many of the workers are black. There are BEE projects (Black Economic Empowerment projects) which encourage and support black farmers. But it's not that simple. Farming is risky, always has been. We met one white farmer who lost his entire crop to hail last month, the damage will affect his fruit trees for years to come. Many farmers are ruined when there is adverse weather or say, poor exchange rates. While the white farmers have been doing this for generations, black farmers are new to the perils and pressures of running a farm. It will take time for them to get up to speed. I heard examples of the difficulties involved with BEE schemes: one government farm was given to a black guy who was previously a foreman of a farm. His workers didn't respect him. They thought of him as one of them, not as the boss. Another example: a BEE project was run by a black farmer, it made a loss every year, then three years ago a coloured farmer took over, and it now makes a profit. This must be heart breaking for the black farmers; you suffer and agitate for change for years, you finally achieve your dream, you get your own land, but it goes wrong and you are defeated, it's just too hard. Gradually however, the training programmes, the experience gained, will kick into place. South Africa is basically 20 years old, it's new, there is a long way to go. As the richer Northern hemisphere, we owe it to them to trade with the poorer Southern Hemisphere. Although trade is also increasing within Africa itself.

Politics of Colour: South Africa, sadly, is still all about colour, just as the UK is all about class. The 'shadism' that operates still in South Africa is something to behold. Within the 'rainbow nation', you have white, black, coloured (Cape Malay) and even 'brown' as some people refer to South Africans of Indian origin. The Cape Malay/coloured farmers I spoke to at the BEE project said that under the ANC government, coloureds are considered 'too white' to benefit from government help. Whereas, bizarrely, Chinese people have been reclassified as 'black', no doubt to obtain Chinese favour (China is investing heavily in Africa). However things ARE improving: there are now more rich black people in South Africa than rich white people. This is what is going to save South Africa. But many are concerned about the popular anti-white rhetoric of Julius Malema, former leader of the junior ANC, who is described as a mini-me Mugabe. Now Nelson Mandela's gone, the passing of an era, the future of this beautiful country is going to be interesting.
Babylonstoren teacher with a pupil, they are always immaculate in their uniforms in Africa.

Maids, shopping in a South African supermarket. 

Kids from one of the social programmes, a creche for children, sometimes with foetal alcohol syndrome or HIV.
Primrose, a house mother for children who are left as orphans, often because their parents have died of Aids. She's just had a food delivery from NorSA, in which there is also Marmite!

Social programmes: South African fruit farmers make sure their permanent workers are paid above the minimum wage and organise several projects to deal with health issues and education. We visited some of the homes of the permanent workers at the Cape Dutch Babylonstoren farm (which has a fantastic restaurant, garden and a stunning cookbook). Once they retire, they are allowed to stay in their homes for the duration of their lives. We also visited NorSAlocated within a township, which is a combined Norwegian/South African social programme for orphans. NorSA place six children to a house, looked after by a 'house mother' such as Primrose above. This creates family style bonds with a 'mother' and siblings. NorSA also have a clinic. A third of black South Africans have HIV. This clinic gives out condoms (male and female, but sometimes they use the band around the female condoms as bracelets!) and perform HIV tests (nowadays the results are within 15 minutes). The creche and after school project educates the children from a very young age, which gives the best chance of turning their lives around. They have just had their first university graduate, something that would have been impossible with the help of NorSA. HortGro helps to finance this project.
If you would like to donate to the NorSA project, helping educate people within townships, provide HIV testing and healthcare, house HIV orphans with house mothers, please donate here. 
The NorSA clinic, which can now offer HIV tests that only take 15 minutes to get a result, plus contraception.

The colourful and well kept interior of a retired worker's house, Babylonstoren farm.
Permaculture: South African fruit farmers are constantly evolving new methods of pest control which eliminate chemical spraying. We visited a fruit fly facility which sterilises the male fruit flies, hence the females lay eggs that do not hatch.
Developing new cultivars of fruit: we visited a lab which creates new types of apple, pear, plum. This is not GM food, it is done via old fashioned plant breeding programmes. I tasted several fruit that were the result of years of experimentation. It takes a long time to get one of these fruit into the market. One apple, a 'zonga', I really liked, a tart apple.
 "Who decides to go forward with this apple?" I asked the scientist.
 "The farmers do, it's up to them, it's totally subjective" he replied.
 "What about chefs? Do chefs have any influence on what you grow?"
 "No, none at all. It's the farmers' risk after all". So far no farmers have chosen to grow the 'zonga'.
Once a new cultivar is chosen, fees have to paid to the developers. For instance the 'pluot', a combination of plum and apricot, a favourite with chefs, was originally created in California. The farmers pay a royalty to the company that created it; an upfront amount and then a percentage of every sale.
The packing house has a kind of beauty, the aesthetics of repetition. 
Ever wondered who puts all the individual stickers on the fruit? Yes it's all done by hand at the packing houses.

Marketing: despite the '5 a day' marketing campaign, the British are eating less fresh produce every year. Partly this is down to price. Poorer families regard fruit, particularly soft perishable fruit which spoils easily, as a luxury item. If you are broke, you would rather buy tinned.
Less is spent on marketing fresh produce than junk food. Five million pounds a year is spent on advertising fresh fruit and vegetables, a pitiful amount considering that the sector is worth 1.5 billion pounds in the UK. The supermarkets also bear responsiblity for this situation; their mark-up on fresh produce is 40-50% while their mark-up on junk food, crisps etc, is in single digits.
Why is marketing important? Because it works, to a certain extent. The 1970s marketing drives for fruit such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths and 'Le Crunch' apples for example, is still influencing purchasing choices for shoppers. We've heard of those apples, so we buy them. This is why South African farmers are inviting food bloggers, journalists, chefs to taste their fruit, visit their farms. If we don't know about their juicy, flavoursome fruit, we don't buy it.
Apples, floating down the packing stream.