Monday, 28 February 2011

Little Acorns

I was perfect...

So we came, we cooked and we conquered. And whilst it would be cocksure to start doling out tips on how to run a supper club at this stage, after the inauguration of the very first Food Urchin Supper Club last Friday night at the Brentwood Theatre, I think I can safely give just two little tidbits of advice. The first would be that working a 22 hour shift prior to the event isn't really conducive when it comes to productivity. Or personal sanity for that matter. By my reckoning I got about 6 hours sleep over a 48 hour period and at one point in the afternoon, when I was loading the car up with pots of soup, prepared vegetables, homemade bread etc etc, I definitely had a Black Swan moment. A mirror hangs in our hallway and I swear that on more than one occasion my doppelganger was pulling faces and flicking v's as I rushed past. I tried to catch the slaphead out but he was far too cute for his own good. Sleep deprivation eh? What a killer. And I could have killed Bugs Bunny when I was chopping the carrots, I am sure that pesky wabbit kept swiping them.

Secondly, never ever put boiled potatoes in a food processor unless you plan on doing some decorating and need to hang wall paper. In the run up to the supper club when I was trying out different recipes, I become hooked on Simon Hopkinson's Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes although it's quite rich so I tinkered about with the recipe until I was happy. However, the constant and great thing about Hopkinson's recipe was his suggestion to use a food processor with the paddle attachment as this always produced a beautiful, silky smooth pomme puree. When you use a couple of spuds at a time, enough to feed say 2 people. But when you up the multiples to cater for 24 people, suddenly your food processor's capabilities get stretched somewhat. Frustrated at the time it was taking, I thought 'sod this, let's try it with the blade'. And hey presto, I got instant glue. So let this be a warning to you, whip potatoes in a frenzy and those starches will create an adhesive so strong you will be able to paste a boiler suit to a big yellow board, get into it and flip the board over the precipice of a twenty story tall building. And survive. So yes I had to do some more bloody potatoes.

But by and large the whole caboodle went off really well. Although we didn't have a kitchen as such, it is pretty amazing what you can pull together with some planning and preparation (albeit slightly delrious towards the end). Mise en place was definitely the key there. As for our guests, a healthy blend of family, friends and complete strangers, they looked and sounded like they enjoyed themselves. I know that the notion of walking in through a theatre, going backstage, past dressing rooms and up to an acting studio that's been transformed into a restaurant was certainly different for everyone. And I don't think that they were expecting the cook to come out and deliver a rant about inanimate kitchen objects either but given the surroundings I thought that a little light entertainment was in order. The best and most pleasing sign was that all the plates came back clean. OK, bar the odd lump of gristle from an ox cheek here and there but come on, I was talking to Oliver Reed when I was trimming those up earlier in the day (so funny...). There's bound to be more thrills and spills along the way but for the first time out, it wasn't all that bad. Little acorns as they say. The next one will be at Food Urchin Mansions on March 19th with only 16 places going so please get in soon if you're interested (email: we'll be releasing the menu shortly.

In the meantime I'd like to thank Mark and David at the Brentwood Theatre for accomodating us and Mrs FU, Craigwah, Caron and Papa Urchin (even if you did steal my thunder again with your puds) for everything else.

Makeshift kitchen

Props from the house and IKEA

Tables set

'Veronica' takes centre stage

Lights, action....

Papa Urchin's puds (Tunsian Orange Cake and Chocolate and Apricot Tart)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Makin' Fish Soup, Ooh What A Palaver.....

I couldn't help but crack a wry smile as I peered out of the kitchen window earlier this week. It was my day off and it was pelting it down with rain. With my forehead resting on the cool glass and clutching a steaming hot cup of coffee towards my chest, I cast my eyes down upon a churned muddy scar running straight through the lawn and I thought to myself 'well that's perfect, just perfect'. And it was. I mean you just don't know how hard it was to turn to my wife and say "well darling, I don't think I am going to get much done in the garden today". You see the big project going on at home at the moment is to get the garden ready for the summer and some of the work involves filling in a whacking great big space where a concrete path used to be with tons of soil. I am not looking forward to it and it's highly likely that I am going to have to get cracking at the weekend. Unless it rains again of course. In which case I shall have to mask my glee and suppress any desire to skip through the kitchen, singing and clicking my heels together like some kind of Tommy Steele from yesteryear. Because that never goes down well.

After nipping out to do some shopping, getting mugged by an old charidee shop lady in the process and some play time with the twins where we built a camp to hide from the Gruffalo, I started to feel restless. As always, there is a billion and one things to do in the house, never mind outside landscape gardening so I decided it would be a good idea to retrieve a fish head and some bones from the freezer with the intention of some making fish soup. I know what you're thinking. 'My God, that man is practical'. I am often in the habit of freezing bones and the reasons are twofold. As you may well have already guessed, I do this firstly with the intention making stock at a later date but secondly to protect my dustbins from a marauding gang of cats that terrorise the neighbourhood. Around my way, leave a chicken carcass to ripen and rot in your bin at your peril because sooner or later, the mangy moggies will mount an attack. I've witnessed an eight strong platoon ram raid our bins with a scaffolding pole before. This not just a matter of wasting food.

Anyway, the fish bones in question came originally from a whole salmon after a bout of curing (or gravadlaxing, if that's a word) over the Christmas period and I was going to try and extract some decent stock out of them. However, after a consultation on Twitter back in January, I was persuaded by a certain Tom Addy, Scottish chef and blogger that the stock would be 'bogging. Instead he suggested that the bones, head and all, could be used to make a very tasty soup. I must admit this was a bit of a revelation for me despite being overwhelmingly obvious and considering that I love soupe de poisson so so much. Doh! Sometimes you need to hit a person over the head with plank before they will wake up and quite often that person is me. But anyway Tom fired off some brief instructions along the lines of 'sauté with loads of onion, carrot, celery, tonnes of garlic in butter', 'add tomatoes, bay, splash brandy and white wine, water/stock simmer for 2 hours and blitz, bones and all' and 'perhaps add cream or more butter for richness and perhaps cayenne and lemon to season = Good Soup'. So I did just that. Given the final result, it was a shame that I waited for a dull miserable day in February to make the soup because it tasted absolutely gorgeous and showcased just what you can do with a few key ingredients on the cheap or for free even, the principle being the salmon bones. If 'waste not, want not' is one of your mottoes (and of course it should be, these guys have got the right idea) then I would definitely recommend that people, you people in other words, give this very simple method a go.

I should add a word of caution though, please do consider the equipment at hand when you get to the blitzing stage. As per Tom instructions you do want grind everything up but be wary, not all regular domestic blenders might not be up to the task. In fact when Mrs FU spotted me ladling the condensed fish mush into our KitchenAid blender she did question as to whether it was wise to put the fish head in. I scoffed in her face and said "of course it'll be ok, the head and bones have been cooking down for two hours now, they're nice and soft". Cue switching of button on, whirling sounds, then a high pitched squeal, crunching noise and abrupt switching of button off, followed by several minutes of deflated silence. When I finally turned to face Mrs FU, she shot me a look which, well how can I sum it up, pretty much went like this:

I bloomin' well told you so,
but did you listen to me, no
you went ahead, with yer fishy head
and now the blender is bloomin' well dead
but did you listen to me, no

(or now who's going all Tommy Steele eh?)

So by all means go ahead and make this wonderful soup but perhaps it would be best to chop everything up in a heavyweight food processor first and then strain through a sieve. Yes I think that might be a better idea.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be out in the garden. In the pouring rain.

The key ingredients

The fish 'ead what done it

The sautéeing bit

The damage

The better tool for the job

The sieving

The soup

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Fire and Knives Mixed Grill

There was something all too reminiscent and unnerving about running to a lecture hall ten minutes late. 'Christ', I thought. 'What was I supposed to have read for this one? Summink about Beatrix Potter and the discourse of post-structural narratives within thematic signifiers in response to a Derridean point of view? Was it? Well I've seen Watership Down, that'll help. Oh balls, why did I have that one last pint last night? I might just go a for a kip at the back'. Wandering into a cavernous Conway Hall, full of hubbub with the sound of chairs scrapping on old wooden floors and general chatter, the unease didn't subside. Surveying eager beards rummaging through rucksacks, smart girls with pens poised and a whacking great big screen up on the stage, I began to panic. Strangely, Kurt Cobain's refrain from 'School' started to reverberate through my brain.

You're in high school again
You're in high school again

Then I saw the gallery. 'Yes, the gallery! I can hide up there!' But then just before making my escape to the back of the classroom, I spotted tables neatly laid out with cutlery and then suddenly the smells hit me. Somewhere, something was cooking. And it smelt good. The fear evaporated and I breathed a sigh of relief, remembering the whole point of the day. Mrs FU asked if I was alright and I just tipped her a wink and squeezed her hand. Of course I was alright, I was at the Fire and Knives Mixed Grill wasn't I? I mean come on, it's all about food innit, what could be possibly wrong? "Let's go upstairs", I said.

And yes it was indeed all about food. Tim Hayward's promise of a day filled with 'talks, lectures, rants, performances, debates, panels, presentations and party pieces on the endlessly fascinating subject' certainly lived up to expectations. OK it was a bit studious and a touch over sincere in places and as this was the first event of it's kind, proceedings did creak along a bit but that was to be expected. But ultimately it was a great day out, informative and entertaining in equal measures. Having a taste for the theatrical, I loved all the cabaret pieces, namely the very dry Piff the Magic Dragon, Marawa the Amazing with her impervious feet (she frigging walked up a ladder of razor sharp swords) and the supremely sexy Russella who could give Nigella a run for her money. Chris Neill was hilarious, even after nonchalantly admitting that he didn't think he had anything to say about food. Kavey from Kavey Eats was equally funny with her short, sharp rant against supplements on fixed price menus. Chris Heathcote and Florian Siepert turned the nerd factor up to 11 with their brilliant talks on micro-organisms and foodcamps and Siepert in particular has definitely planted a seed amongst some of the audience members, I can tell you that. Dr Morgaine Gaye, a future foodologist with fantastic hair gave us the run down on what we can expect to be eating in, well the future and Stefan Gates showed us, albeit in slightly prolonged detail, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing that he won't put in his mouth. Out of all the talks that had a more literary lilt, for me those led by Matthew Fort and Rachel McCormack worked best. Introduced as 'Ol Blue Eyes', Uncle Fort's appraisal of food in detective novels was warm, witty and fun and Rachel with the help of Spanish actor, Jose Estudillo created a totally interactive experience. By giving the audience chestnuts and melted chocolate to eat as Jose read an extract from The Carpenter's Pencil describing the very same thing, the subject matter of the piece certainly become more resonant.

The star of the day though had to be artisan baker Sam Leach who wooed the crowd with his matter of fact rally against the mechanisation of food, trumpeting quality over quantity and pushing forward ideas to save the economy. We just need to get more people working, baking bread by hand! Simple, direct and all delivered in a charming, ordinary style. Excellent work that man.

I have to say that I was disappointed to discover that James Ramsden wasn't going to be climbing up the stage that day to give us his views on the future of supperclubs, especially as I am about to make a venture into that heady world. Despite talk of rotten tomatoes, I was genuinely interested in what he had to say. And considering that Ms Marmitelover aka Kerstin Rodgers, doyenne and pioneer of the supperclub scene in the UK was there, I suppose I was surprised that she wasn't taking to the forum herself. But then again she was very busy cooking up what looked to be a sumptuous lunch, it was a shame that Mrs FU and I didn't make a booking. Perhaps I'll have to attend their supperclub workshop later in the Spring to hear what they have to say, although it does look a tad pricey. The Mixed Grill on the other hand for twenty English pounds a pop was excellent value for what really was an invigorating, educational (yes, educational!), epicurean day out. I understand more events are in the pipeline, may it go from strength to strength.

And I suggest you join the mailing list, right now.

It's a poor photo from my iPhone but yes that is a man dressed as a dragon

Another poor photo from my iPhone but yes that is a transvestite making pancakes to the thumping soundtrack of Christina Aguilera's 'Ain't No Other Man'

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Food Urchin Supper Club

Now originally the title of this post was going to be called 'Tinkering with Teppanyaki' but then I got all worried that it might be misleading so I changed it. And whilst it pains me that to say that I haven't gone all Benihana on yo' asses, I am pleased to announce that I shall be making a foray into the illicit world of pop-up, hip-hop, don't stop till ya drop, overground, underground, wombling free, paladare, if you dare, secretive restaurants as sponsored by Pataks and soon to be shown on Channel 4.

Yes I am talking about supper clubs and yes I am being deliberately churlish.*

I have been thinking about running a supper club for some time now having visited one or two (and also having helped out at this one) but have continually shelved any notion of actually going ahead with it citing both logistical and lethargical reasons. Funnily enough I have also cited exactly the same reasons for not going running and getting fit so far this year. But after feeding some actors back in December, the guys who run the Brentwood Theatre planted a seed in my brain with the offer of the use of their studio for a supper club evening. So I returned, you know to talk the idea through some more and left, rather unexpectedly with two dates in the calendar and a proposition to cater for their awards ceremony, The Brents. Well let's not run before we can walk eh chaps but I was pleased to finally get the ball rolling.

Since then the biggest hurdle has been trying to work out exactly what to cook as the catering facilities at the theatre are pretty much non existent and for a while it looked like I was going to have to build a kitchen from scratch in true pop-up Pierre Koffman style. Of course these delusions of grandeur soon faded when I factored in hire costs, health and safety and my own personal ability. Yeah I'd say that I was just a few steps behind Mr Koffman. A far simpler approach was necessary and so for the past couple of weeks I have been tinkering around with borrowed portable hot plates, induction hobs and yes microwaves. All very much in a punk ethic kinda way. And after much experimentation and much burning of January Kings on teppanyaki plates (you can't really sauté vegetables directly on a hot plate, well at least I can't) I think I've cracked it. So, without further ado, the very first Food Urchin supper club will be on Friday 25th February, held obviously at the Brentwood Theatre and the menu shall be (drum roll please):

- Parsnip soup with herbed croutons and bacon lardons

- Ox Cheek braised in Chocwork Orange Dark Ale (Brentwood Brewery), topped with Gremolata and served with Pomme Purée and Steamed Purple Sprouting Broccoli

- Mick's Tunisian Citrus Cake with Vanilla Crème Fraiche

(plus homemade sourdough bread, nibbles and other little extras)

To my mind this event is to be the precursor or the fanfare (or the lit sparkler) announcing the start of a regular, monthly supper club at Food Urchin Mansions in deepest, darkest Essex. I've already got an idea to run an evening in the summer based upon a 'buried' theme which I am sure you can hazard a guess at but at first, little steps, little steps.

I shall run a couple more updates before the big night with better pictures of the food but wish me luck anway.

If you are interested in coming along to the very first Food Urchin Supper Club then please contact me at or leave a comment with your email.

Suggested donation will be £20 a head (vegetarian options available on request) and alcohol and soft drinks will be available to buy from the theatre at a discounted rate.

All hi-tech mod cons will be used

But we shall not be 'sautéing' vegetables. Or juggling utensils. Or throwing eggs up in the air and catching them in our pockets.

We shall be using this beer

And we shall be reducing sauces

And you'll be getting something similar to this beautiful melt in the mouth, albeit obscured, ox cheek (sans cabbage)

*No sooner do I decide to announce my intentions to run a supper club when I discover that a certain Mr Ramsden, food writer and proprietor of the very excellent Secret Larder (been there too see) will be giving a talk on the future of the supper club at the forthcoming Mixed Grill. By the sounds of it he shall be exploring issues surrounding 'the most exciting food phenomenon of the last few years', asserting that 'the territory is getting crowded, audiences are getting blase and now professionals and big companies are muscling in.' Thought provoking stuff and I for one shall be interested in what he has to say, sitting in contemplative repose with one hand clutching my chin. The other hand clutching a rotten tomato. You know just in case James pisses on my chips.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Brawn Off

Dear Prudence
It's a curious thing to do it seems, to take an animal's head and stick it in a pot with the intention of cooking it. Especially one as cheerful looking as Prudence. As I gazed down upon her, admiring her rosy pink complexion, floppy ears, bristled chin and eyes, though half shut, still twinkling away, I soon realised that any penchant I had for nose to tail eating was going to be severely tested. Sure I'll eat all manner of things at the dinner table but... but.....but.... this pig's head came with a face. I mean can you believe that?!

Curiouser still was picking through Prudence's somewhat altered features after simmering in said pot of water for 6 hours, along with various vegetables, spices and herbs with an absolutely steaming hangover. I think I can now safely say that picking apart a boiled pig's head with my bare fingers should definitely be reserved for sober days. Standing in the kitchen late on a Saturday night sifting through a gelatinous morass of meat, fat and other matter with waves of nausea washing over me was not my idea of fun. By the end of the evening, I wasn't sure who looked worse, the pig or me.
Most curious of all though was the response I got from some quarters having photographed the twins alongside Prudence prior to her going through the whole process but more about that later.

So what's this all about Alfieeee?

Well of course, it's all about the #brawnoff, a little competition that seemingly appeared out of nowhere, which took myself and three other bloggers on a journey into the world of brawning. Despite what you might think, the inspiration for this contest didn't come out of any trend or fashion for cooking offal (although it is very trendy and fashionable) but simply from an on-line conversation that happily got out of hand. Back in the autumn of last year, Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa opened to a somewhat indifferent fanfare and though I have personally yet to go to the restaurant, I was immediately impressed by the butchery department that had also opened downstairs at the One New Change complex. This shop front which also supplies the restaurant, though relatively small and narrow in size, is immense in stature. And it's all down the glass panelled cold store at the back of the shop. These cabinets are amazingly tall, well lit and house all manner of cuts, increasing in size right up to complete carcasses. In short, the display is a magnificent carnivorous spectacle. If that sounds gushing, well I'm can't help it. I mean Christ! When have you ever seen a whole f**king cow hang in all it's glory. I mean do you actually know how bloody big a cow is? I felt like a giddy schoolboy when I first wandered in. But aside from the wow factor, what is also brilliant about Barbecoa Butchery is the friendly service and advice. Having been burned by plenty of butchers in the past, it's always a relief when a butcher approaches you with a sense of humour. Although there is one toothless wonder who works there, who is going to get his hide tanned should his mother-in-law ever get wind of the some of the stuff he says about her.
Barbecoa Butchery

So, yes I like the place, to my mind a clever blend of modernity and traditionalism. And I soon discovered that some other bloggers liked it too, namely Meemalee's Kitchen, The Grubworm and How Not To Do A Food Blog via some intangible, meandering chat on Twitter which in short went like this:

"Have you seen the pig's heads in there? Yeah! We should go there and buy one each! Yeah! We should make brawn! Yeah! We should make it a competition! Yeah! what's the prize? No prizes, just for the glory! Woo hoo!" *collective punching of air* (apart from Aaron of Grubworm, who just whimpered).

All we had to do then was to find suitable experts to judge our brawn so I approached Danny, website editor of Jamie Oliver's er website to see if he and the butchers of Barbecoa would be up for it. And gladly they were more than up for it. Even better still, after a very uncharacteristic request from yours truly, they were happy to supply the pig heads gratis so the four of us piled into there a couple of Fridays ago and then marched back out with surprisingly heavy laden bags complete with trotters. Hands were shook and off we disappeared into the night with the intention of coming back on the Monday evening to proudly display our headcheese. Now the best course of action I should have taken was to get my piggy, or Prudence as she became by then, home as soon as possible and into the fridge. Or better still into a bucket for brining. But unfortunately I had made a prior appointment to visit Sarf Laaandan that night to sample my best mate's home brew named 'Tooting Trotter' (of a different kind). Hence the sore head the next day. In fact, brawn wise, things didn't get off to the best start at all really as I stood there trembling and watery mouthed on the platform at Tooting Bec and suddenly remembered that I had left my bag hanging in the shed in my friend's back garden. You know what, I reckon the exclamation of "PROOOODAAAANCE!" reverberated down the tunnel all the way to sniffy Balham. Or Blaarm as it is sometimes known. So after a quick gallop back out of the station like an epileptic donkey and an arduous sweaty journey across town, I managed to get Prudence back to Essex, safe and sound.

By this point time was now of the essence so I set to work as soon as I got through the door, although I did have to field a little question time session with the twins. After an extensive examination, Fin said to me "that's not a real piggy is it Daddy?" To which I replied that it was and that we were going to eat it. "You know you like ham Fin? Well this is where we get ham from, piggies". Having made the connection to Prudence and one of his favourite food stuffs, he smiled, patted it on the head and went on his merry way into the other room to watch telly. It would have been slightly perverse if Peppa Pig was on but it was only Gigglebiz or something like that. Isla reaction of sticking her finger up Prudence's snout was certainly different but no less surprising given that's her favourite hobby and she was more than happy to pose for some photos, flashing me her cheeky and oh so slightly malevolent smile. With the twins curiosity out of the way, I set to work.

Now this was my first time making brawn and given the state I was in I was happy to discover the process is pretty simple. I followed the advice in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Cookbook where upon you take your piggy head, clean it, shave it and place in a suitably large vessel, cover with water, adding onion, carrots, celery, a bouquet garni and a small tied muslin sack containing coriander seeds, peppercorns and cloves. Place your vessel on the hob and bring to a gentle simmer, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface and leave to cook for 4 hours or longer (like I said I left it for 6). Easy. And I was grateful it was that painless. Well not quite as I did have a Roy Scheider moment trying to squeeze Prudence's head into my stock pot. Not to mention a minor crisis of conscience as she stared back out at me with those longing eyes. But after slicing off her ears and jowls, Prudence's human-like identity faded and I was able to retire to the sofa with two Nurofen and a glass of water whilst she softly bubbled away filling the house with beautiful porcine smells (my God I sound like a serial killer).

Scenes from Ed Gein's House

The experience of stripping the flesh from Prudence's now wizened and murky brown head was pretty much as I described at the beginning. Plucking a milky, coagulated eyeball from her skull very nearly had me screaming out for Ruth but after that the green gills subsided and we got the job done quite quickly (yes we, I also roped in Mrs FU for this part). We were still careful though, trying to get the balance of fat and meat right, fishing out all manner of flotsam and jetsam. I suspect a connoisseur might well say "nah, leave it ALL in" but I couldn't take my nose to tail eating that far, although I was sad to discover that Prudence's tongue was missing. As per HFW's guidance, all that was left to do after that was to roughly chop the viscous mass, season it well and stir through chopped parsley and lemon zest. I then divided the mixture between two bowls, placed a foil wrapped piece of card on top and left them in the fridge, each weighed down by a can of baked beans. After that I asked my wife to draw me a bath to soothe my weary soul. Who told me in no uncertain terms to piss off and run it myself. Yet again.

Having had a sneaky slice of my brawn on the Sunday, I was feeling pretty confident. So confident that I also decided to bake some sourdough bread that was in no way intended to garner me any favour with the judges whatsoever.

Would you like to try some of my headcheese?

But when it came to Monday evening and I saw what the other guys had done, I soon realised that competition was fierce. The surprising factor was that everybody's brawn was so different. Paul of How Not To Do A Food Blog went down a simple, traditional route, letting the sweet fattiness of the pork do the talking. MiMi of Meemalee's Kitchen gave us a treat with her unusual Burmese inspired (what else!) fragrant brawn with lip smacking accompanying chilli pickling sauce. And that flash harry, whimpering Aaron of The Grubworm came up with a monumentally sexy and slender looking, succulent and beautifully flavoured brawn. You don't need to second guess who won but I will say this, it seems that my fantastic sourdough bread counted for nothing! But as competitions and experiments in food go, it was great fun and Aaron was a deserved winner, I was SO sorry that he couldn't join us for a slap up meal at Wahaca afterwards.

Brawn left to right: MiMi's, Paul's, Aaron's

The Winner with Boys from Barbecoa
So thank you to the boys from Barbecoa and Danny for your comments and for judging (and for the wine!). I am sure that if I hadn't succumbed to the delights of 'Tooting Trotter' I would have won.

And on a final note, it is worth mentioning some of the fall out that came from displaying some of the photo's of the twins alongside Prudence to family and friends (and to some people that I really don't know). Whilst I am pleased to say that there were no vindictive comments, in fact there were a lot of positive ones, the venture did throw up some interesting light on attitudes towards what is acceptable and what isn't when it comes to introducing children to where our food comes from. Some people have suggested that it was a 'gross thing to do', that 'it wasn't right to do that to a child' and have asked me 'did I want to give them nightmares?' Well of course I don't but then again I don't want them to grow up in a world where they don't make the association between an animal in the field and the meat on their plate. I certainly don't want them to suddenly freak out in the middle of a supermarket or a farm when the penny drops. It's very early days for us but I just want to be honest with them, to begin to explain and to try make the connections. What's the point of hiding? If further down the line, they decide that eating meat isn't for them, then fair enough but hopefully they'll make the decision based upon their own informed opinion. The way Isla is posing there like some kind of pig-tailed Salome, I'm not convinced that she'll become a haunted, staunch vegan years down the line. But if she does then fine, at least in that future she'll be able to point out on her friend's plate where the bacon they're eating came from. I wonder how many kids will be able to do that. I wonder how many kids can do that now?

Meat eaters or future vegans, you decide.....