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Last Sunday in the UK, we had a Twitter trend about Lurpak butter.

Lurpak is excellent butter and it is Danish.

Foodies are now concerned about tariffs on EU products beginning in January 2021.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, who was a fruit farmer in his family’s business prior to entering politics, appeared on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show to discuss Brexit. When the topic of tariffs came up, he said that EU companies with factories in the UK would not have to pay them.

Lurpak lovers began to worry. Lurpak’s parent company is a large Danish dairy co-operative, Arla.

Someone tweeted a photo of his Lurpak butter dish. This was from a Christmas ad campaign several years ago featuring an animated trumpet player, if I remember rightly:

I hope that people saw the second tweet below. Adam Payne writes about Brexit for Business Insider. One quarter of Arla’s milk suppliers are British:

Arla is the third largest food company in the UK. Who knew?

Case closed.

My fellow citizens should not worry: Lurpak, along with other Arla products, will still be available in the UK post-Brexit.

If George Eustice was wrong about Arla, I surely hope he is right about Dominic Cummings, who left No. 10 on Friday afternoon, November 13 (!), carrying a box with his papers and personal belongings:

Cummings was the mastermind behind Brexit, even though Baron (Lord) David Frost has been leading the negotiations with Michel Barnier.

This is what Eustice told Marr on Sunday:

Given Boris’s odd behaviour after his bout with coronavirus in April, I hope very much that we will not get BRINO come December 31. As Theresa May so often said:

No deal is better than a bad deal.

She turned sour as milk and went back on her word.

Whatever happens, at least we’ll still have Lurpak.

Land O Lakes has changed its logo.

The Native American maiden is no longer.

The Left campaigned for her removal over the years. They finally got their way:

Maybe the new head of the company felt the same way?

It appears that way. A woman CEO and president gets rid of packaging featuring a female Native American. Hmm.

On Thursday, April 15, the Minnesota Reformer reported on the logo for America’s top brand of butter, which is approaching its centenary (emphases mine):

We need packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of our company culture — and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes’ dairy products,” President and CEO Beth Ford said in a statement in February …

The release made no mention of why the company decided to remove the character from their packaging. The entire Land O’Lakes website seems to have been scrubbed of any mention of the iconic mascot.

A spokeswoman for Land O’Lakes did not respond to a request for comment submitted Monday.

For Native Americans who have long criticized the use of Indian mascots, the change is a welcome one.

“It’s a great move,” said Adrienne Keene, a professor at Brown University, author of the popular Native Appropriations blog and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. “It makes me really happy to think that there’s now going to be an entire generation of folks that are growing up without having to see that every time they walk in the grocery store.”

But Keene thinks the company missed an important opportunity in not explaining why they removed the image of the Indian maiden from their brand.

It could have been a very strong and positive message to have publicly said, ‘We realized after a hundred years that our image was harmful and so we decided to remove it,’” Keene said. “In our current cultural moment, that’s something people would really respond to.”

This is how Mia, the Indian maiden, came to be:

The Indian maiden first appeared on Land O’Lakes packaging in 1928, seven years after the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association — as it was first called — was founded by 320 farmers in St. Paul.

Arthur C. Hanson, an illustrator for the ad firm Brown and Bigelow, came up with the original design evoking rural Minnesota with a blue lake, green pine trees and a Native woman center stage in a buckskin dress and feather headdress.

It imbued the Land O’Lakes brand with a sense of naturalness, nostalgia and American authenticity, a tactic used by thousands of companies to sell everything from butter to cigarettes to motorcycles, as a recent exhibition at the Smithsonian shows. Keene noted in one blog post that she could create an entire breakfast menu plus snacks using ingredients with Native mascots.

The packaging was redesigned in the 1950s by Patrick DesJarlait, a highly-successful Ojibwe artist from Red Lake. He said he was interested in “fostering a sense of Indian pride” across the Midwest

Robert DesJarlait, the artist’s son, says he’s glad Land O’Lakes removed the Indian maiden his father helped create but also continues to be proud of his father’s legacy, which includes creating the Hamm’s Beer bear and being one of the first Native modernist painters.

“It was a source of pride for people to have a Native artist doing that kind of work,” said DesJarlait, who’s also an artist. “He was breaking a lot of barriers . . .Back in the 50s, nobody even thought about stereotypical imagery. Today it’s a stereotype, but it’s also a source of cultural pride. It’s a paradox in that way.”

DesJarlait and Keene said people have come to better understand the impact of these representations.

“The conversation has shifted so much. We have scientific, psychological research that shows the harms of these types of representations,” she said.

The American Psychological Association in 2005 called for all American Indian mascots to be retired, citing a large body of social science research showing how racial stereotypes and inaccurate representations harm Native young people’s self-esteem and social identity.

And, yes, there were boys who folded the carton so that her knees became something else.

Well, I thought that Mia was pretty. Keene says that the image portrayed her as being:

pure, sexually available and something to be conquered like nature.

I disagree totally. But, then, my mind doesn’t run in that direction.

Farewell then, Mia.

It was nice knowing you, even though the butter is overly priced for what it is.

Store own brands are a lot cheaper and of much higher quality.

In 1999, Anthony Bourdain wrote an article for The New Yorker on dining out.

‘Don’t Eat Before Reading This’ is a must-read article.

He was talking about top-end bistros and restaurants, but he raised insider facts which will interest aficionados of the dining scene.

I saw the article thanks to this tweet about steak …

… which led me to this one (click on image to see the full text):

I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Fish

I nearly always have fish when eating out. Here’s the truth for fish lovers who dine out at the weekend or on a Monday (emphases mine):

The fish specialty is reasonably priced, and the place got two stars in the Times. Why not go for it? If you like four-day-old fish, be my guest. Here’s how things usually work. The chef orders his seafood for the weekend on Thursday night. It arrives on Friday morning. He’s hoping to sell the bulk of it on Friday and Saturday nights, when he knows that the restaurant will be busy, and he’d like to run out of the last few orders by Sunday evening. Many fish purveyors don’t deliver on Saturday, so the chances are that the Monday-night tuna you want has been kicking around in the kitchen since Friday morning, under God knows what conditions. When a kitchen is in full swing, proper refrigeration is almost nonexistent, what with the many openings of the refrigerator door as the cooks rummage frantically during the rush, mingling your tuna with the chicken, the lamb, or the beef. Even if the chef has ordered just the right amount of tuna for the weekend, and has had to reorder it for a Monday delivery, the only safeguard against the seafood supplier’s off-loading junk is the presence of a vigilant chef who can make sure that the delivery is fresh from Sunday night’s market.

Generally speaking, the good stuff comes in on Tuesday

Steaks

I cannot emphasise enough this bit about well done steaks. For those who missed the tweet above:

In many kitchens, there’s a time-honored practice called “save for well-done.” When one of the cooks finds a particularly unlovely piece of steak—tough, riddled with nerve and connective tissue, off the hip end of the loin, and maybe a little stinky from age—he’ll dangle it in the air and say, “Hey, Chef, whaddya want me to do with this?”What he’s going to do is repeat the mantra of cost-conscious chefs everywhere: “Save for well-done.” The way he figures it, the philistine who orders his food well-done is not likely to notice the difference between food and flotsam.

Vegetarians

Apologies to any vegetarians reading here, but this is what chefs think. Bourdain prefaced this by saying serious cooks find preparing brunch dull:

Even more despised than the Brunch People are the vegetarians. Serious cooks regard these members of the dining public—and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans—as enemies of everything that’s good and decent in the human spirit. To live life without veal or chicken stock, fish cheeks, sausages, cheese, or organ meats is treasonous.

Butter

Whether we realise it or not, a good restaurant will use butter — and a lot of it:

In a good restaurant, what this all adds up to is that you could be putting away almost a stick of butter with every meal.

Leftover bread and butter

Speaking of butter — and bread — you might wonder (as I did) what happens to whatever you leave on your table.

It gets re-used:

Recently, there was a news report about the practice of recycling bread. By means of a hidden camera in a restaurant, the reporter was horrified to see returned bread being sent right back out to the floor. This, to me, wasn’t news: the reuse of bread has been an open secret—and a fairly standard practice—in the industry for years. It makes more sense to worry about what happens to the leftover table butter—many restaurants recycle it for hollandaise.

Food handling

If you’re wondering (as I did) if line cooks and chefs wear gloves in the kitchen, the short answer is ‘rarely’:

As the author and former chef Nicolas Freeling notes in his definitive book “The Kitchen,” the better the restaurant, the more your food has been prodded, poked, handled, and tasted. By the time a three-star crew has finished carving and arranging your saddle of monkfish with dried cherries and wild-herb-infused nage into a Parthenon or a Space Needle, it’s had dozens of sweaty fingers all over it. Gloves? You’ll find a box of surgical gloves—in my kitchen we call them “anal-research gloves”—over every station on the line, for the benefit of the health inspectors, but does anyone actually use them? Yes, a cook will slip a pair on every now and then, especially when he’s handling something with a lingering odor, like salmon. But during the hours of service gloves are clumsy and dangerous. When you’re using your hands constantly, latex will make you drop things, which is the last thing you want to do.

Hair

Bourdain says that toques or other head coverings are not generally worn:

For most chefs, wearing anything on their head, especially one of those picturesque paper toques—they’re often referred to as “coffee filters”—is a nuisance: they dissolve when you sweat, bump into range hoods, burst into flame.

Bourdain’s conclusion

Despite having raised the hairs on people’s necks by revealing all this insider information, Bourdain is adamant that a top restaurant kitchen is cleaner than that of the average home:

The fact is that most good kitchens are far less septic than your kitchen at home. I run a scrupulously clean, orderly restaurant kitchen, where food is rotated and handled and stored very conscientiously.

My conclusion

Having read Bourdain’s article, I am happy I do not eat out all that often — at most, 10 to 12 times a year — and always in good restaurants.

I would dispute that their kitchens are cleaner than mine at home.

And finally, although I disagreed with his politics, I am sorry that Anthony Bourdain is no longer with us.

Thanksgiving bloglibumneduTuesday before Thanksgiving is a good time to start preparing for Turkey Day.

You can make pie crust and buy any last-minute essentials. Making cranberry sauce is also a good Tuesday activity.

Make your Thanksgiving pie on Wednesday, so that you have less to do on Thursday.

Prep vegetables on Wednesday and put them in a pot of water or stock (cover with a lid) on the stove ready for cooking on Thursday. Alternatively, cook them on Wednesday to reheat on Thursday.

Make your turkey stock for Thanksgiving gravy ahead of time on Wednesday. Remove the wings from your turkey, joint them (for bone broth), sauté them with a tablespoon of salted butter until browned, then add water. Bringing the pot up to the boil and simmering sufficiently takes about three hours. Turn off the heat and leave to cool gradually to room temperature.

You can also make your stuffing then so that it is ready for the bird straightaway on Thanksgiving.

By the way, the secret to a good stuffing is plenty of butter. Use a ratio of 1/3 stock to 2/3 butter. Sauté chopped onion, mushrooms and celery with 125g — one stick — of butter in the stuffing pot before adding the croutons. Add another 125g of butter when you add your stock. Melt the butter in the stock then add the croutons, put a lid on the pan and turn off the heat. You will get a lot of compliments!

Finally, be sure to season your turkey well before putting it in the oven. Prepare a seasoned rub of your choice, adding plenty of salt. I also put softened salted butter with sage or bay leaves under the skin. It makes a huge difference to the finished product.

Salt and butter are your Thanksgiving dinner friends.

I mention this because the worst Thanksgiving dinner I ever ate was at a nurse’s house in the late 1970s. I can remember it to this day. She did not season the bird at all — or any of the side dishes. Furthermore, everything was low-fat. I ate out of politeness, but could easily have passed that dinner by.

Also, if it is easier for you to carve and dish up in the kitchen, do so. You’ll save time on the washing up, as you won’t have serving dishes to clean.

In closing, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a huge chore. Start now, so that you can relax a bit more with your guests on the day.

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