The excellent One Great George Street website and blog do not happen by accident. They are the creation of our full-time Marketing & PR Manager and part-time slave driver, Katie McCarthy, who brilliantly manages the whole thing including all the blog contributors; a job akin to herding cats.
The way it works is this. Katie draws up a grand plan for the year’s editorial calendar including outline blog concepts and then we agree on five or six different subjects, each of which will have a deadline so that they can be ready for publication. There is, of course, room for spontaneous posts too, but I always know when a pre-agreed deadline is approaching because I get an email that is beautifully written but essentially a thinly veiled threat reminding me of the consequence of non-compliance. Usually at this point, I jump into action because I have forgotten the deadline. However, on this occasion I struggled to start the blog because I didn’t know how to.
In my lifetime there have been seismic changes in the way we eat and indeed in the very way in which we think about food, but for all our new found knowledge I’m not sure what we have learned.
For instance, when I was growing up in the 70’s pub food was limited to crisps, nuts, pork scratching and if you were in a posh place maybe ‘scampi in a basket’. Indeed there was an Irish pub called the Turrets in New Southgate that would put a red hot oven tray of roast potatoes on the bar for everyone to help themselves to on a Sunday! Classic. However these days you can walk in to almost any pub and get a restaurant quality meal.
I remember my parents driving all the way to Willesden because there was a Chinese restaurant there that did this new-fangled thing called Peking duck rolls! There were no McDonalds or Burger Kings, there was hardly an Indian restaurant to be seen and Thai was something that you did with your shoelaces. Food was very basic and for the average person the only way of pushing the boat out was to visit a stilted French style restaurant where the bow-tied waiters would patronise you into believing that you were out of your depth.
When I first started work at the Savoy 32 years ago we would get function sheets for 500 people and if you were unlucky there might be one vegetarian on it. We would point it out, tut, shake our heads and say ‘Give ‘em an omelette.’
Now, however, every function sheet is full of dietaries to the point where there are sometimes more dietaries than there are regular meals and it has changed from people highlighting an allergy or intolerance to people making life choices.
My point is that in the last 50 years our knowledge and expectation of food has improved beyond all recognition but our understanding of the effect it has on us hasn’t really moved forward. The constant availability of food appears to be impossible to resist because we seem to have lost our off buttons.
What are superfoods exactly and what makes them super? This is not a new message but chasing the next big thing that is going to save us all is surely futile, and instead what we should all aspire to is eating a balanced, healthy diet, eating smaller portions and exercising more.