Athena Lamberis

Film Food – Documentary Stories of Cocoa, Life in Chocolate.

In Stories on August 1, 2014 at 22:35

First taste of chocolate.  Do you remember?  Remember the joy of opening a chocolate bar?

A journalist recently visited Cocoa farmers to film their first taste of chocolate.

Their reaction reminded me of the stories revealed by young child worker’s on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast in the Documentary: Semi-Sweet.

Re-post of a film review about the stories around the cocoa bean and chocolate. 

It’s 37 degrees in Paris while Patrick Roger’s chocolateir workshop is busy transporting his sculpture of a Orangutan made of chocolate.

Chocolate melts at 37 degrees, the same as our body’s temperature.  Roger explains: “Chocolate acts the way we do . . . It’s a love story.”  Roger’s story amongst others features in the food documentary: Semi-Sweet, Life in Chocolate.

Image It’s African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival gave viewers the chance to travel to three continents and hear multiple perspectives around the complex chocolate sphere.  The director, Michael Allcock and producer, Lalita Krishna immersed themselves in the art, politics, production and conflicting ideals on the chocolate coated topic. This documentary took four years to find the most compelling tales that showcase our relationships within the world of Chocolate.

“Someone promised us a better life  . . . And because of that we almost lost ours,” are the words from the young girls who chose to leave their home in Mali.  Many children are recruited to cross the border into Cote d’Ivoire for the promise of earning money on the cacao plantations.

Cote d’Ivoire produces nearly half of the world’s cacao and most are collected by the hands of young children. The film showcases the stories of youth who were lured by plantation recruiters to earn money that they could never imagine attaining if they stayed in their villages of Burkina Faso or Mali.  Most youths that chose to escape to a empty promise land lose their lives due to the conditions on the fields.  80% of pesticides used on the fields are banned in most countries and poison the workers, amongst other working hazards.

A young man who had survived the harsh conditions on the plantations was given some chocolate to taste after he confessed “Frankly, I do not know what they use cacao for.”

It reminded me of an image that speaks so clearly to what their stories portrayed:

Bustart image via GetGroundedTV

From the plantation field, “If you get tired, it’s not like you can rest.  There’s a quota and you have to get it.”

The film’s powerful choice to reveal the stories of these young workers allows viewers and activists to wake up to the real effect of consumer power, money and the faceted influence it has on lives that live close to the natural resource.

The truths of gross labour from the voices of these children reveal the dichotomy of youth that collect chocolate from pinatas, Halloween bags and Christmas stockings.

The film introduces the world of Hershey, Pennsylvania where Milton Hershey built a fictitious world that breeds naive ignorance since 1903.  Interviews with Hershey’s Public Relations and Marketing Managers expose a honest oblivion to the effects of mass corporate consumerism.  Hershey’s profile plays an interesting role in the film, as the town anthropomorphizes into both a naive narrow-minded child and the enabling greedy Uncle.

Sip through the jetstreams to Northern Ontario, Haliburton and your eyes and ears feast on the poetry of Ron and Nadine, raw food enthusiasts and producers of raw handmade chocolate concoctions of Living Libations.    “. . . They played and played until nectar was made.” exclaims Ron and his confessions of love for his craft.  Light-heartedly, I giggled during scenes of him marketing their ‘out of this world’ chocolate, to the NASA caterers for moon missions.  David Wolfe visits their Secret Land of Is, and dives into the food history of cacao, the value it had as currency until 1886 and the health benefits of this concentrated anti-oxidant tree.

Semi-sweet is Culinary Linguistics at the heart-using media to illustrate the language of chocolate that highlight the diverse realities on such a valuable food resource.  This is a great film to add to the top must-see food documentaries that evoke awareness and call for change.

Any suggestions of films, please share.   Here are some nice lists on great food sites: Lettuce Eat Kale, The Good Human

How to Eat and Think about Bug Grub: A Taste of Entomophagy

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on June 25, 2014 at 16:08

Would you ever say, “I’m a Entomo-tarian and love crickets roasted and tossed in sea salt and cayenne pepper and covered in chocolate?”

How to eat crickets -recipe

Chocolate covered Crickets at Soma Confection Laboratories. Pic by Heather Thompson

Considering bugs as grub gives way for the future of Pestaurants, cricket flour protein bars and stinkbug snacks being served in city centres across the globe.

With two other curious minds, adventurous taste buds and a love for food (with wings), we nibbled on cricket parts and chocolate-covered nosh once living in the wild.  Conversations about insect anatomy, and the future of entomophagy, got me thinking on the topic of the fast frozen-once-hopping jimineys.

My love for “how to” and DIY in culinary arts has led me to simmering  Mopani worms and foraging fresh sea vegetables. It’s my quest for promoting variety in our appetites, being a MacGyver in the kitchen and working with what you have and what is presented to you.  But will the high in protein, beneficial fatty acids, essential vitamins and micronutrients in insects become primary ingredients in our morning porridge?  I can see a future in dipping celery sticks in smoked paprika chickpea grasshopper pâté .

When will people from different hemispheres be sharing bug-eating habits?  Will you eat insects from your garden instead of using insecticide?

 Insects as a food source has been practiced for many generations in various parts of the world, and people are beginning to see past the gross factor.

Environmentally, insects take up less space, reproduce at a faster rate and have a better feed-to-meat ratio when compared to cattle and other alternative meat sources such as ostrich, goat, and pork.  Insects for human consumption could help in solving a wide range of ecological, economic and health related issues and concerns in our world of food production and nutrition.

But will you add it to your grocery list?

Will you start farming organic crickets instead of building a chicken coop?

As we continue to urbanise but become more wise and sovereign in our food choices, this may be your answer.

And people keep asking me, “So what do crickets taste like?”

This batch was a crispy, smokey grass with a chilli-chocolate punch in your mouth.  But if you’re looking to build your muscles, beetles are your super power protein source.

Stay tuned for Entomo – recipes as we expand our culinary linguistics together:  A Chocolate Confectioner, Agroecologist and a Culinary Nomad.  If you are chomping at the bit:  Eat a Bug Cookbooks are already on the shelves at an Amazon near you.

entomophagy in chocolate and spices How to eat crickets in chocolate -#theculinarylinguist

Crickets collected by AgroEcologist/Entomophager: Zayaan Khan.

How do crickets taste like in chocolate -#theculinarylinguist

Pop, Crunch and Chocolate with a side of Coco-nutty bar chocolate bar.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

In Events, Stories, Travel on June 4, 2014 at 12:31

 

“Is there rain and gale force winds on your side?”

“No.”

“Okay, then we’ll meet you at the forest gate at 7:15”

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa Gary Mushroom Guru

Gary Goldman, the mushroom Guru of Cape Town, South Africa

In Cape Town, winter brings sloshy puddles and leaf layers on the forest floor.  Mushrooms, like stars fallen from the galaxy, pop out of the ground in diverse shapes, forms, colours and size.  This time from the first rains is when foragers, explorers, mushroom hunters spot various of funghi for identification, observation and if lucky, consumption.

The rain was still drizzling outside our home in Vredehoek while we drove with our hound, Enzo, to the Cecilia Forest in Cape Town.  Brushed with a dark blue, the sky opened to the morning sun once we found our meeting place where Gary Goldman, the mushroom guru was waiting.  Dreams of porcini, pine-rings and new forms of fungi were planted in our minds.  What did the forest hold, and what were we going to find?

 

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa Gary Mushroom Guru

Cecelia Forest – mushroom foraging with Gary

We carried baskets, pocket knives, and boldness onto the lower slopes of Table Mountain Reserve, with the comfort of having a teacher, Gary, to guide use through our questions of the forage.  The dogs sensed excitement-the fresh smells fueled the pack to go in front of the path.  Chris joined the front, and just over the barb-wire fence, what looked like a brown leaf was twisted out from the earth.  The first find of the day was a porcini treasure, fragrant, firm and joyfully gathered.

 

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa-Chris Mason

Chris found the winter delight! Fresh porcini mushroom.

Slippery logs laid in our path and speckled leaves lined the moving forest streams-more winter delights came in all different shapes and sizes as we weaved pass the gum tree forests and into pine, cork oak and poplar tree sections.  What looked like a brown wood owl flew past us as we continued to collect poplar boletus, porcini, pine-rings and learned to identify a variety of parasite (grows on/from organic-living) and saphrophyte (grows on dead organic material) fungi. After two hours in the forest, my eyes became more aware of mycelia on trees and different fungi characteristics.  I was beginning to confidently identify and learn distinctive features of about various mushrooms-my favorite being the saffron-coloured water that stains your hands when you squeeze a pine rings vs ‘a little brown mushroom.’

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Filling the basket with porcini, poplar boletus and pine rings. Anything with a sponge under the mushroom cap in the Western Cape is edible.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa Mycellium

Mycellium on the tree – a part of the fungi web

Gumtree Forests How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Gumtree forests – many common edible mushrooms do not prefer this type of environment

As we left the forest with happily-filled baskets, I was in awe of the complexity and beauty nature holds in a delicate yet robust web.  With every step into our natural world, I learn more about how our environments flourish and where our food comes from.  Proper identification, with desired aroma and taste adds a world of medicinal and culinary uses of mushrooms to my culinary linguistics. It’s been dated back to B.C. China, of humans foraging for mushrooms for added sustenance during winter months.  I added another day to an ancient practice of mushroom eating history (mychophagy).  Today, with the appetite for variety and with the help of a mushroom guru – I became a fungivore-survived and nourished.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Cork Oak trees – Mushrooms loves to grow under pine, poplar and oak trees.

Cinnabar-How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

A type of Cinnabar – medicinal mushroom.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa-porcini

Porcini mushroom cut length wise

Laughing Jims (hallucinogen) How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Laughing Jims – hallucinogenic

Turkey Tail - How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Turkey Tail mushroom- a bracket fungi-used as a medicinal tea since 15th century. Used as an alternative for chemotherapeutic medicines and radiation therapy. Grows on dead logs (saphrophyte)

saphrophyte

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Often Gary identifies some mushrooms by slicing it in half to see the color inside.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Another medicinal mushroom that grows on living trees.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South AfricaHow to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Gary Mushroom man How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

My dog Lorenzo having too much fun skipping over mushrooms and logs.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Eager foragers in the Cecelia Forest

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