And we’re not talking about the *ahem* loveable ‘Cabbage Patch Doll’ visage of cuddly old Sir Alan, here….
After the wonderful weather of the past few days, the morning dawned disappointingly overcast; & in fact, remained oppressively foggy throughout, down here in our little valley. Craving sunshine I gave myself the apologetically thin excuse to make an excursion into Carmarthen so I could buy some sugar from the wholesaler, in readiness to craft our next artisan batch of exquisitely delicate Madagascan Royal Bourbon Vanilla gelato.
We are highly selective about the variety of each individual ingredient we use: & sugar is no exception. Whilst sadly not necessarily considered to play the starring role in so many dishes, it is nevertheless one of the most crucial weapons in our frozen dessert armoury. So we have to get it right…
Certain types of sugar are preferable for particular varieties of gelato.
Or so we’re told.
However, in all our experimentation, we’ve found that to be honest, if the recipe has been perfecly balanced regarding every last ingredient, then the difference in sugar type is so subtle as to be almost completely unnoticeable.
Hence it’s our preference to purchase the truly admirable sugar from no further afield than our own shores. Purists might moan that cane or certain demeraras are better for particular flavours of gelato; but frankly, I’d rather upset the purists, than knowingly increase our carbon footprint by donning a seriously-heavy sugar boot – & then deny hard-working British farmers, our business – than purchase the allegedly ‘perfect’ sugar, from thousands of miles away.
Even Hugh Fearley-Whittingstall, a pioneer of encouraging people to purchase local produce, outsources the manufacture of his ”River Cottage’ brand of organic ice cream to the wonderful Roskilly’s…but even that contains CANE sugar; which carries such an ‘ouch’-assoicated carbon footprint. Roskilly’s produce delicious, natural, traditional ‘yellow base’ ice cream…but if the sugar to make it has to travel all those unneccessary Food Miles, at what cost to the planet, never mind the customer….?
Is this – again – a question of taste, or economics….?
I’d love to know. After all; the River Cottage brand has a fair few more pennies to play with, than we have. British farmers are suffering enough & if we don’t all work together to support them, they’ll fail like any other ailing business in these economically-trying times. Perhaps we are so sensitive to it, for the very reason that we are farmers ourselves; or perhaps also being in other business to boot, we’re feeling the ‘pinch’ even more painfully than most.
Regardless: the worrying fact is that this island nation is in grave danger of losing its ability for food supply self-sufficiency. We are already far too reliant on others overseas to supply us with even staple commodities which we should be able to easily produce, ourselves. Take the humble carrot, for example. Why on earth are supermarkets sourcing carrots from as far afield as New Zealand, when we produce perfectly delicious – and FRESH – ones, here at home….? Daftness at its daftest. Recently the EU thankfully overturned the ridiculous ruling that knobbly & misshaped carrots were not permitted; however it would appear that consumers have become so brainwashed they choose the look of fruit or vegetables, in preference to taste. This is extremely disappointing. A friend of ours in Cambridgeshire says her local producer has a vast mound of ‘pony carrots’ which the supermarkets have deemed unacceptable for their shelves as they’re not ‘cosmetically acceptable’. So even though the EU has backed down, the supermarkets stubbornly haven’t. I suppose that at least we won’t have the ridiculous situation that happened recently where a market stallholder was forced to dispose of £1000′ worth of avocadoes as when measured by Trading Standards they were found to be 1mm short of the ideal. As the majority of fruit & veg is sold by weight, does this really matter….? What a disgusting waste of food, when so many people are starving.
Right. Rant over! I purchased my sugar – a 25kg sack – whilst being entertained by one of the local farmers with some very amusing jokes & even a couple of magic tricks! I heaved the heavy sack into the back of the car & headed back to the farm with a smile on my face. The trip had been just the tonic.
However, the smile left my lips when I arrived home & opened the car door. A stream of sugar spilled onto the yard. in an attempt to staunch the flow I desperately lunged at the sack…only to hear a horrible tearing noise & find what had been trickle now became a torrent. Whilst negotiating the twists & turns on the valley road on the return journey to the ffarm, the bag had slipped & caught on something sharp, which had torn the paper sack open. So now my 25kgs of sugar has diminished to something closer to 2kg…..damn.
Needless to say, my good mood has dissolved….& I’m not exactly ‘sweetness & light’!