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The UK’s Favourite Biscuit 2019: REVEALED

As a nation of biscuit lovers, it stands to reason that the good people of the UK have a favourite. Some folk will opt for a humble Digestive, others fancy a Lotus Biscoff with their coffee. Whichever you choose, there’s always going to be someone that disagrees… but by how much is the question?

With National Biscuit Day on the 29th of May, we’ve surveyed over 1000 people in the UK to determine which biscuits we value most right here and now in 2019. So without further ado, let us present to you our poll results…

You might find the winner to be a little controversial!

UK's Favourite Biscuit 2019 - CDA

Jaffa Cake is The UK’s Favourite Biscuit 2019



So the gelatinous, tangy deliciousness that is the Jaffa Cake has come out on top! But some might say it’s not even a biscuit, and legally they’d be right. In 1991, the courts ruled in favour of McVities when they fought to have the Jaffa Cake classified as a cake for tax purposes. If a biscuit is covered in chocolate it becomes a luxury item, therefore the standard 20% VAT is applied, however this doesn’t apply to cakes. So while legally it is a cake, the people have spoken and have ruled that the Jaffa Cake is indeed a biscuit… and their favourite one at that!

With a whopping 17.8% of the votes, Jaffa Cakes beat out Shortbread for the top spot which has 13.6% of the votes. The biggest loser this year was the Chocolate Hobnob with 7.5% of the votes, dropping from 2nd place to 7th. The Chocolate Digestive also took a tumble, falling ffom 1st place to 4th overall with 11.8% of the votes.

There were also some non-movers and some new entries, with the Ginger Nut and Plain Digestive holding on to their 8th and 9th places, respectively. The Lotus Biscoff made an entrance, coming in 11th place, will the new found poplularity of this cafe culture favourite see it rise further up the ranks in years to come? Only time will tell!

 

European Food Names Literally Translated

Ever been dining abroad or at a posh restaurant and fancied ordering something really exotic? It all sounds lovely, but what is it?

The names of certain foods from around the world can leave you a little perplexed if you’re not completely sure what it is you’re ordering, but finding out what the names mean can be somewhat off putting and you might just lose your appetite…

Linguistics are a strange thing, so we decided to dig a little deeper into some of the names given to traditional foods from different European countries such as France, Denmark and Germany. We then took those names and literally translated them into English. Some are hilarious, some are disturbing but we’re pretty certain they all taste absolutely delicious! Who doesn’t want to eat a dead grandma or a poo satchel for lunch, right?

Peruse our delicious continental menu below and let us know what you think…

What Did I Just Order?

On the Menu

Tantalise your taste buds with our specially-selected array of European delights, creating a delicious food fusion, perfect for those who aren’t all that fussy:

To Start 

Amuse-Bouche = Mouth Amuser

Nothing amuses your mouth more than a cute, perfectly formed little treat on a cocktail stick. Basically a bite-sized ‘Hors D’ouvre”, which when translated literally, means “outside of work” – because nothing says party time quite like tiny French food.

Strozzapreti = Priest Strangler

When spaghetti just doesn’t cut it, it’s time to step up your pasta game and why not opt for one with murderous intentions? It’s alleged that Strozzapreti got its name from the greedy Italian priests who, upon receiving the dish from locals, gobbled it down so fast, they choked! 

 

Main Course

Tote Oma = Dead Grandma

The UK has black pudding, Germany has dead grandma. Essentially, it’s minced up blood sausage which is then fried with onion and bacon. Tote Oma is also known as “Verkehrsunfall”, which when literally translated, means “traffic accident”. It’s not looking good for this dish.

Balg-Bhuachair = Poo Satchel

Scottish cuisine isn’t something you’d often consider a delicacy, but if you’re feeling adventurous, then a poo satchel might just be your bag. In Scots-Gaelic, you’d actually be ordering a nice dish of mushrooms. Might need some garlic with this one though.

Blote Billen In Het Gras = Bare Buttocks in the Grass

If anything is going to set your heart racing, it’s Blote Billen In Het Gras from The Netherlands. It’s not however, as exciting as it sounds. The dish consists of mashed potatoes and veg, which is then topped with green beans and “white” beans, which are thought to resemble someones plump rump poking out of the grass. Yum!

Soufflé Au Fromage = Cheese Breath

What could be more delightful when eating a lovely romantic meal with your significant other? This French dish is a lighter than air baked egg dish that puffs up in the oven. Soufflé literally translates as “breath” and “au fromage” is “with cheese”. Maybe not a good choice for a first date…

 

Side Orders

Brændende Kælighed = Burning Love

Although this Danish delight sounds like you’re ordering a plate of heartburn, it’s actually mashed potatoes which are topped with diced bacon and onions, then served with pickled beetroot. It’s not clear where the name came from, but this dish is meant to conjure feelings of “Hygge”. It must be served piping hot too. Obviously.

Patatje Oorlog = War Fries

If you’ve got the munchies while in The Netherlands, then this odd concoction might be the one for you. When we say odd mix, we mean it; peanut butter, mayonnaise, diced onion and ketchup all make an appearance. The name derives from the messiness of the toppings and the fact it looks like a condiment battleground. Our guess is that the flavours are at odds too!

 

Dessert

Pets de Nonne = Nun’s Farts

These heavenly French pastries are light and crisp, with a delicious cream filling. The lightness and out of this world taste is said to have inspired the rather tongue-in-cheek name. However, it’s said that those who attended convent school are the only one’s to really know the truth behind the name…

Papo de Anjo = Angel’s Double Chin

Many desserts have biblical references in their name and with good reason. These Portuguese balls of deliciousness are no exception. They’re thought to have been given their name because they were originally sold by nuns and monks to pay for food and repairs of the monasteries and convents. We can only assume the double chin element is a nod to what will happen when you over indulge on them.

Éclair au Chocolate = Chocolate Lightening

Choux pastry has to be one of the greatest things to come out of France (as far as sweet treats go anyway). Everyone loves a nice chocolate eclair, right? Pastry, cream and lots of dreamy chocolate poured on top, what’s not to love?! Éclair literally translates as “flash of lightning” and we can see why they might associate that with this dessert… We’re more than happy to demolish one in next to no time.

How Meaty is Your Sausage?

The UK is a nation of sausage lovers, there’s no doubt about that. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner you can always rely on them. But when it comes to the Great British banger, do we really know what we’re getting? 

Traditionally, sausages were made from the less desirable cuts of meat as a means of reducing food waste. Over time however, using better quality meat in sausages is something that the general populous have come to expect. But…

How much meat is in sausages?

The answer is… it varies. It’s estimated that 86% of households in the UK buy sausages every month, so it stands to reason there are going to be variations across different brands and price points.

But does luxury really mean luxury? 

There are guidelines in place for minimum meat content, it’s expected that sausages should contain at least 42% meat, though the minimum is a shocking 32% if the packaging is labelled as generic sausage. It doesn’t need to be “meat” either; ear, snout and cheek are allowed in pork sausages but will generally be labelled as “head meat”. Yum!

We wanted to find out just how much banger you were getting for your buck and if the sausages we consider good quality really are all they claim to be. So, we set about on our research quest in a bid to discover just how meaty our favourite sausages are and whether they really are as great as we think.

We’ve taken the offerings from the top 8 UK supermarkets including the likes of Sainsburys, Asda and Waitrose, comparing meat content and prices across their basic, standard, premium and reduced fat “thick pork sausages”. We also did the same for some well known brands and we have to say… the results were quite surprising if a little worrying in some instances!

For example, Richmond sausages are one of the most popular sausages brands and will often be the go-to choice for many, but with just 42% meat content and at £2 for a pack of 8 on average, they’re one of the worst value for money when it comes to meat content. When comparing these to lesser known brand, Denny and Sons, whose sausages contain 60% meat and cost just £1.10 on average for 8, it begs the question, is brand awareness more important than quality?

Worryingly, supermarket basic own brand sausages also fared better than Richmond, with Asda’s offering the lowest meat content at just 51%. But at £1 for a pack of 8, they’re literally half the price. Not so surprisingly, the basic sausages from Waitrose contain a somewhat respectable 67% meat and yet, are still cheaper than Richmond at £1.70 for a pack of 8. 

At the other end of the scale, those we consider premium are often lauded as being the best of the best when it comes to meat content, but is this really the case?

Of the branded premium pork sausages we looked at, Edwards of Conwy pork sausages contained just 70% meat and at £3 on average for 6 sausages, it also makes them one of the more expensive. In terms of supermarket premium sausages, we were surprised to see Waitrose fall short when compared to the others, containing 87% meat they had the lowest amount (10% less than many of the other supermarket offerings), again they were also the highest price at a hefty £3.79 for just 6 sausages, making them the worst value across the board.

By comparison, 5 out of the 8 supermarkets we researched offered premium sausages that contained 97% meat, with Aldi offering 6 premium pork sausages for just £1.99. This might raise a few questions, such as: “is the quality of the meat compromised? Or, should we pay less attention to the branding and take a closer look at what it is we’re really eating? Either way, eating sausages made from higher levels of meat is surely better than the substitute products making up the rest of it, right? With this in mind…

What are sausages made from? 

Aside from the meat, there’s a whole concoction of other ingredients that go into them and not all of them are particularly pleasant or good for you (not that sausages are considered a healthy option anyway). The main filler ingredient for most sausages is rusk. Rusk is a twice-baked biscuit-type food with little to no nutritional value. Once baked, it’s broken down and mixed in with the meat to “bulk it out”. It was originally made from stale bread which is why many store-bought sausages aren’t gluten free, however this is starting to change as yeast-free alternatives continue to be introduced to sausage production.

Other ingredients can include chemical additives and preservatives such as sodium nitrite (which is considered to be carcinogenic and a possible cause of cancer), potassium, sodium triphosphates and carmine – which comes from the grinding up of tiny beetles and gives processed meats it’s pinky-red colour. Then there’s the skin of the sausage, they’re most commonly made from the intestine of a pig, however they can also be made using collagen, cellulose or even plastic in some cases.

In addition, a mixture of herbs and spices will be added by the manufacturer, this mix is often a closely guarded secret and historically was done as a way to disguise the taste of poor quality meat used, however it’s more about preference these days.

One major thing to look out for when buying sausages is the amount of salt and water used to make them, your daily salt intake should be kept to a minimum and over-consumption can lead to a number of health problems. Also, many cheaper sausages often have water added to them to make them appear fuller and more substantial than they truly are. However, when cooking, this water will dissipate, leaving you with not much sausage and a messy frying pan!

So, the bottom line… 

Higher meat content will usually mean better sausages, BUT… higher meat content doesn’t necessarily mean better value, so check your prices!

 

 

 

 

The Hipster-Healthy Foods That are Killing the Planet

The food we consume is often dictated by trends (anyone with any sort of recollection of the 1970’s, will likely have fond memories of prawn salad’s followed by a nice portion of trifle). But these days, consumerism has become a global problem and rarely are the foods we eat en masse homegrown, so it stands to reason that the impact of increased demand for certain foods is felt across the world. 

As food trends go, healthy food is currently having a pretty good run. Nutritious foods such as avocados, quinoa and almond milk have seen huge increases in production over the last few years, but as the demand for these newly popular foods soars, what impact are they really having on the environment?

Avocados

Avocados are nutrient-rich and bursting with vitamins and research also suggests that the natural fats in avocados can help protect against heart disease and lower blood pressure. These health benefits and the advent of social media has meant that the avocado has become one of the biggest players in the superfood market the world over. The USA imported almost 2 million tonnes of avocado in 2017… that’s six times as many as in 2001! As a planet, we now produce and consume twice as many avocados as we did back then, with 40% of the worlds avocados coming from Mexico.

Avocados are known to be water hungry, using 370 litres of water just to produce 500g of avocado… that’s nearly 8 times the amount of water required to grow the same amount of tomatoes! This is having detrimental effects on the drought-stricken areas such as Mexico and California where the majority are grown. Water isn’t the only problem for those in Mexico either, much of the farm land is now controlled by drug cartels due to the increased demand, forcing farmers to hand over a percentage of their earnings and murdering those that refuse.

Quinoa

Known as Peruvian Gold, quinoa has become a firm favourite on many restaurant menu’s in recent years. Gluten-free and high in fibre, it certainly has its place in a healthy balanced diet. Together, Peru and Bolivia produce approximately 95% of the world’s quinoa and traditionally, it would be a large part of their staple diet. However, due to the increase in demand and the rising prices (tripling since 2006), they’re now forfeiting this healthy, nutritious food in favour of cheaper, processed products.

The increasing prices and demand has also meant that smaller, local farmers who’s families have been growing quinoa for centuries, have been pushed out of the market to make way for mass producing corporate companies. But just how much of an increase are we talking? In 2001, 46 tonnes of quinoa was produced globally, today this figure has risen to 149 tonnes… that’s three times the amount in less than 20 years!

Soya Beans

Soya has played a huge part in vegetarian and vegan foods for a while. Due to being high in protein and a good source of fibre, it continues to be a favourite and is used to produce meat and dairy alternatives. That said, it’s not actually veggie cuisine that’s causing the problem, it’s our lust for cheaper meat that is fueling the real growth. 347 million tonnes of soya was produced in 2017, 90% of which went into animal feed production.

Unfortunately due to this increase, it means the South American rainforests are suffering huge losses to meet demand;  The USDA estimates that total amount of Brazilian rainforest that will be devoted to cultivating soya beans is likely to reach 30 million hectares by 2020. That’s an area the same size as the Philippines. Let that sink in for just a moment. It’s not just South America that’s suffering either. Globally, 300 million hectares of tropical rainforest has been lost to soy plantations over the last two decades, these vast monocultures are usually heavily sprayed with pesticide, kill biodiversity and contribute heavily to soil erosion.

Other Foods

Though avocados, quinoa and soya bean production are the biggest culprits for destruction and devastation of the planets resources and those that rely on them, there are also a number of other foods that heavily contribute to this including: bananas, coconuts, dark chocolate, peanut butter and almonds.

Bananas – as well as the huge amount of pesticides used to produce bananas, ethylene gas is also used to artificially ripen them as they’re shipped around the world. This and the considerable distances they travel all adds to a rather sizable carbon footprint.

Coconuts – Mainly farmed in Indonesia, the Philippines and India have also begun to clear mangrove forests to pick up on the demand for coconut-based products. This however has had a knock-on effect, causing issues with coastal erosion which in turn can have devastating results during typhoons and tsunamis. 

Dark Chocolate – The cocoa industry has widely been criticised for being one the biggest employers of children, with an estimated 2 million working for less than $1 a day. It’s also been blamed for the huge deforestation in Africa with 80% of Ghana’s rainforest cleared since 1960, add to this the massive carbon footprint; estimate to be the equivalent of driving a car 4.9 miles per 200g bar.

Peanut Butter – Though it’s not the peanuts that are at fault here, the increased popularity means that more palm oil is being used than ever before. A primary ingredient in many peanut butters, cosmetic and other food products, palm oil is derived from the African Oil Palm Tree. This is lucrative business and it’s estimated that 300 football fields of rainforest are cleared every hour to make way for new palm trees, threatening local species such as orangutans who, at this rate, could be extinct within 5 years.

Almonds – It’s a worrying fact that almonds are second only to beef cattle when it comes to water consumption… In fact, almonds require more water to grow than sheep, goats, pigs and chickens! They’re also primarily grown in southern California which is known for it’s dry climate, almond crops have quadrupled over the last 30 years which isn’t great news for the drought hit state.

 

 

The Illustrated Evolution of the Burger

From the go to menu item for the picky eater in a posh restaurant to the fast food must have when you need to grab and go, the burger has solidified itself as one of the world’s favourite foods. While the types of burgers available today are expansive, we’ve decided to take a look at the evolution of the burger to see how this beef sandwich enriched our hearts…

illustrated history of the burger

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History of the Burger

  1. Roman Burger – Late 4th-5th Century AD

It all started with the Roman burger. There is a debate as to the burger origins, some people think it was derived in Hamburg, Germany, and that’s how it got its name, however there’s evidence to suggest the patties as we know and love them were actually formed a bit earlier in history. Between the late fourth and fifth centuries AD, there is a recipe featured in the famous Roman cookbook, Apicus. The recipe is for a dish called ‘Isicia Omentata’ which describes a patty made from minced meat (actually minced pork but that’s what was popular at the time), wine, pepper, pine nuts and a rich fish sauce called Garum. While our faces grimace at the recipe, and we become thankful for living in the 21st century when we have McDonald’s and Five Guys aplenty, we can’t deny that the description and images of the recipe appear to be like the burger we’re now familiar with.

  1. The Medieval Rysshew (Rissole) – Around the 1300s

Minced meat was a luxury reserved for the middle classes during the medieval era but patties made from fruit and herbs fried in oil were a popular dish across Europe. While the recipe isn’t what we know the burger as today, the fried patty idea is very much resemblant of a burger. As farming improved and meat became more commonplace, the basis for burgers was already in place.

  1. The Hamburg Steak – Early 1800s

The Age of Discovery meant that minced beef had become increasingly popular throughout Europe in the previous centuries. Hamburg, in Germany, had become particularly renowned for its cattle, and the high-quality beef sourced from their cows was used to create a delicacy called Hamburg Steak. Hamburg Steak involved meat being minced, seasoned and formed into patties, as we’ve previously heard but it was the meat quality that set this aside as a key turning point. Germany during the Age of Discovery also had the largest shipping ports so would often be frequented by sailors. Hot on their lips was this superior burger patty and when they travelled they spread word about this menu option. It was German immigrants however when they moved to America in the 19th century that started replicating this meal, they set up restaurants in places like New York and Chicago serving the ‘Hamburg Steak’. To cater for the American palate recipes slightly changed and garlic, onions and breadcrumbs were added to the patty. Demand became increasingly high for this meal and this is where the global phenomenon starts, and we see the burger being adapted.

  1. The First True Burger? – 1880

Now that the Hamburg steak was doing the rounds in restaurants all over America, in 1880 a Texan cook Fletcher Davis AKA “Old Dave” placed the meat between two slices of toast. Originally when the Hamburg steak hit American restaurants it was served raw or lightly cooked, as a breakfast option, accompanied by a raw egg.

At the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair however Old Dave is said to have tried something new, he grilled the meat brown and served it between two thick slices of toast with raw onion on top. It proved to be a hit and he opened up a burger stand as a result. He would serve this alongside French fries, which he is also said to have invented.

There are a few claims about how a burger came sandwiched between bread but Fletcher Davis’ version of events is said to be the most likely.

  1. The White Castle Burger, 1921

White Castle was the first fast food restaurant chain to open. The owner Walt A. Anderson had been operating food carts for many years before he decided to open a diner dedicated to burgers. In 1916 Walt was credited with inventing the hamburger bun and when he opened his restaurant serving square patties in a bun, his burger model became revolutionary.  Walt is also credited with creating the kitchen as an assembly food line identifying White Castle as the origin of the fast food industry.

  1. The Cheeseburger, Mid-to-late 1920s

The cheeseburger origins are contested as there are several claims for this. However, most sources suggest 16 year old Lionel Sternberger was the inventor when he decided to experiment and add cheese to a freshly fried burger when cooking at his dad’s Californian food shop, The Rite Spot.

  1. McDonald’s Hamburger, 1940

While the fast food concept had already been cemented by White Castle, and had been soaring in popularity since the 1920s, McDonald’s emphasis on fast and cheap food definitely helped moved the burger along. They introduced the concept of the ‘one minute burger’.

  1. Wimpy Burger, 1954

Fast food had become greatly established in America by the middle of the twentieth century which is when the larger food chains as we known them started taking their franchises around the world. Wimpy is but one example of a success story who by 1970, had over 500 restaurants in the UK alone.

  1. The Whopper, 1957

Burger King was another major fast food chain coming into play in America in the twentieth century. Spurred on by a rival restaurant’s invention, Burger King’s founder James McLamore decided there was a market for a bigger burger. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that this idea faced competition when McDonald’s chose to create the Quarter Pounder.

The Whopper has undergone many changes to its design, the bun switched to a sesame seed bread in 1970, the weight of the burger increased to 120g in 1985 and the bun was replaced again by a Kaiser roll. The larger than normal burger however proved to be a hit with customers.

  1. The Big Mac, 1968

The Big Mac started off under a couple of different names at one of McDonald’s franchises in Pennsylvania in 1967. McDonald’s were trying to compete with the local competition in Pittsburgh trying out new burgers. After the name changed to Big Mac and the sauce was added, it proved popular and became adopted by all US restaurants in 1968.

The design of the Big Mac was another revolutionary event in the evolution of the burger. With a three-part bun design, two patties and the special sauce, it paved the way for more creative inventions.

  1. The Gourmet Burger, 2000-

While the fast food industry was well and truly born and bred around the world, the millennium brought ‘better burger’ chains and gastropubs. This led to the creation of gourmet burgers. There’s a reason hamburgers and fast food burgers are able to be offered at low costs, gourmet burgers invite better cuts of meat, fresh toppings and more flavoursome patties. Traditional burger buns started being replaced by brioche buns and ciabattas.

  1. The Double Down, 2010

As the low-carb craze hit, KFC created the double down burger – a no-bun burger that consisted of two pieces of chicken with the toppings sandwiched between. While this had been designed as a one-off menu item, after achieving success it has now secured a permanent place in restaurants. Similarly, naked burgers are also becoming commonplace with more people opting to have their burger served in lettuce leaves to avoid the increased carbohydrate consumption. 

  1. The In Vitro Burger, 2013

In response for the world’s growing demand for meat, in 2013 scientists from an institute in the Netherlands created the first laboratory made burger. They took cells from a cow and turned them into strips of muscle to create a patty. Whilst there were mixed reactions to the ‘burger’, most comments were positive and agreed the technique had promise. Could this be the future and the direction the modern burger is heading?

Each of these stages had an impact on the burger becoming known as it is today. You could argue either one of the above events invented the hamburger but in reality, they all played their part. From the Roman’s idea of a meat patty, to the global higher quality patty that started retailing due to the Germans, to Old Dave’s concept of placing the patty between slices of bread, all steps were crucial in the evolution of the burger. It’s certainly interesting to see how the recipes and designs have transitioned over the years to provide us with a menu full of alternative dining options that suit everyone’s wants and needs.