The French ParadoxWritten by Simon Mitchell
The French, in terms of diet and disease, are a statistical enigma. They relish high fat food, consume alcohol regularly and often smoke - very picture of World Health Organisation's 'risk group'. High protein, meat based meals include duck, goose and pork - even cooked in fat as a preference! Butter, cream, pork fat and wine are regular ingredients.
Yet they have comparatively low rates of stomach and colon cancer and second-lowest world incidence of heart disease after Japan. 'The French Paradox' is well known to nutritionists and reasons for this statistical enigma are emerging.
One of their pet names for English is 'Les Ros Bif', in reference to traditional overcooked Sunday roast dinner. French cooking is much lighter than British, leaving many of valuable nutrients in food, rather than throwing them out with pan water. The French relish their food and eat widely, they often take trouble to prepare meals from fresh, home-grown, organic produce, meaning they get more minerals and nutrients from food.
They also mix food elements to compliment each other, from a very wide base of ingredients that change with seasons. High protein dishes are accompanied by generous salads and nutritious, easily assimilated soups are popular. Dried broad beans and chick peas are also part of winter staples, adding anti-oxidant beans and pulses to a wide diet. It is a well celebrated fact that French eat everything!
Earthnuts or Pignuts (Conopodium Majus)Written by Simon Mitchell
An edible tuber common in British woodlands.
Although these tasty tubers are beloved of pigs (hence name) they are a most unusual and rewarding woodland snack and there was a time when they were a popular nibble for country children on their way to and from school. The fern like leaves appear along with Lesser Celandine in spring. During May and July they develop umbellifer heads with white flowers not unlike Cow Parsley. According to Gerard and others Dutch once ate them 'boiled and buttered, as we do parseneps and carrots'. Unearthing a pignut is a delicate operation. The root disconnects from tuber very easily, which can be several inches from where stem appears above ground. Follow stem under earth using careful scraping with a twig, fingernail or knife. Eventually you will reach pignut, which is covered with a chestnut coloured skin. If you can wash nut at this stage it avoids getting muddy fingernails while peeling. Scrape off papery outer coating to reveal Earthnut.