I walked into the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show at Olympia in London to be met by a large Lexus. That’s not the Latin name of the lesser known, slightly sour fruit best eaten after it’s passed through the gut of a Yak on the Himalayan plateau. It’s the luxury car, and the show’s main sponsor. I’d come in the hope of eating lots of samples, finding some interesting flavours and meeting some great producers. Keeping an open mind to new tastes and textures can lead to making culinary discoveries and enjoying more of life’s greatest pleasures, eating! I know what I like to eat and like to eat what I know I like, but too many people try something once, don’t like it and refuse to ever try it again.
The first stand to catch my eye was The Fickle Fish offering a couple of types of anchovies. Straight away my open mind was being tested by all too vivid memories of a disgusting pizza I’d part eaten in a Brighton Italian restaurant. I had no idea what a good achovy should taste like. They had two varities on offer, one smoked and one not. It’s said that there’s only one thing that smells worse than an anchovy, if you don’t know email me and I’ll tell you. Both types offered by The Fickle Fish smelled terrific and yes, tasted even better. Strong flavours but still delicate and not too salty. The smoked element wasn’t overwhelming and seemed to add a certain sweetness.
So what might be a good thing to eat after an anchovy? Well how about ice cream? To my surprise it worked really well. I tasted some Oppo Ice Cream salted caramel with Lucuma, in fact not ice cream at all because it’s made with Stevia leaf rather than cream and sugar. It was really nice and creamy. So was the Madagascan Vanilla with Baobab. I don’t know what Stevia leaf is, but it’s great in ice cream! There were quite a few stands at the show boasting ‘guilt free’ or ‘gluten free’. I don’t have any food allergies so it’s all self-flagellation to me. I love ice cream but I don’t eat it every week because I know it’s not good for me. I would happily eat fat-free sugar-free Oppo ice cream every day, except for the higher price relative to conventional ice cream.
Of course good quality food is more expensive but in my opinion the last place to save money is on the quality of the food you eat. Nothing proves this better than fresh fruit, the cheap fruit piled high in the price-driven supermarkets has so little flavour it’s hardly worth eating. Some people claim it has nutritional value too.
I had to overcome my inner pedant to speak to Naomi at the Flavorking plum stand. Where’s the ‘u’? I tried a slice of a Flavorking and it was a world away from any plum I’d eaten for months. I love an English Victoria plum when they’re in season but I think the Flavorking was better, not just in the amount of flavour but the nature of the flavour. They’re from South Africa which causes a certain amount of food-mile guilt, but can I balance that against an economic good in helping support African workers? Well I bought a packet of Flavorking plums from M&S on the way home. They worked out at 75p each, but the shear pleasure in easting beautiful, juicy fruit in February made them well worth the money.
I didn’t like everything I tried at the BBC Good Food Show, but I’m only writing about the good things. I was interested in meeting food producers, you don’t come across many when you live in London. The Fairs family have turned their Suffolk farm over to growing Rape, mum Clare and daughter Georgina were at the show with Hillfarm Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil. It has 50% less saturated fat than olive oil and a higher smoke point at 220°C. I tried the oil on some bread, to me it was lighter than olive oil and a gentler flavour. It’s rich in Vitamin E and a natural source of Omega 3 and 6, good news if you have someone at home who doesn’t like fish.
I’d never heard of Teff, an ancient grain from Ethiopia. It’s very small, 150 grains to a single grain of wheat and has no gluten. The bread made from Teff that I tried was heavier than ordinary bread but with a lovely flavour. Sophia told me that the Ethiopian government won’t allow Teff to be exported so she sources hers from Greece.
The crowd around the Heck stand must surely mean they have something good to eat! Yes, sausages. They had a number of flavours, simple pork, pork and apple, chorizo style and chicken. For many years we told our fussy eater daughter that pork sausages were made chicken, although I’d never actually seen a chicken sausage, let alone tried one. She’s never forgiven us and now turned vegetarian! Heck make a chicken sausage and they’re actually very nice. Heck source all their meat from Yorkshire farms, I think it’s particularly important to know where your sausages are from, it’s too easy to hind stuff inside! I bought packets of all four varieties and they weren’t expensive.
There are several more BBC Good Food Shows this year, all over the country. For anyone like me who lives in a city but takes food seriously it’s great to meet people who’re as passionate about producing good food as I am about eating it! I want to support them.
Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.