It can’t have failed to escape your notice in recent months that most of the major supermarkets have been pulling beef products off the shelves at a rapid rate of knots due to the fact that it has been discovered that they have been adulterated with horsemeat.
Unlike many other cases of food adulteration, this isn’t necessarily a public health issue. In Britain, at least, the decision not to consume horsemeat is a cultural choice (although this hasn’t always been the case); however, this is more a case of whether we can assume honesty and are able to trust the products that we buy – or not. If our microwave meal claims to contain beef, for example, then beef is exactly what it should contain.
What is in our food is actually regulated by law, but that hasn’t always been the case either – and the horsemeat scandal shows how ineffective even these modern laws can be against those determined to make a fat profit out of the food we eat, whatever the consequences. However, a horsemeat lasagne is really nothing compared to some of the highly disturbing things that have been found in foodstuffs in the past.
We drink it every Christmas (in fact, I’ve already been glugging away at it over this last weekend!), and many of us see it as an integral part of a ‘traditional’ festive celebration. These days, you can even buy it ready-made in most supermarkets – although it really does taste much nicer if you make it from scratch (see below for some easy recipes to try).
We all know that it’s a spicy and warming seasonal tipple, but what exactly is mulled wine? Where does it come from? How ‘traditional’ is it? Has the recipe changed over time? And, more precisely, what on earth is ‘mulling’ when it’s at home anyway?
Put very simply, to ‘mull’ wine means to heat and spice it, often adding fruit to the mixture too. This process infuses the wine with the spice (and fruit) flavours, giving it that familiar warming kick. Other alcoholic drinks can also be mulled, including cider, mead, ale and brandy, as well as fruit juices.
Variations on this theme of adding spice to booze have been popular for centuries in many European countries, and there are historical records of a number of old English recipes for mulled wine – some of which date back as far as the fourteenth century, although these recipes were almost certainly very old even then.
I don’t often post recipes, but it’s now June, and that means the real beginning of summertime (we’re now only a couple of weeks away from the summer solstice and the longest day, believe it or not). And summertime means barbeques and picnics and parties and outdoor fun – assuming it doesn’t rain, of course, and that’s a big assumption to make about the British summertime!
Of course, barbeques, picnics and parties – enjoyable though they are on their own – are not really complete without something fizzy and preferably alcoholic to get happily drunk on while sitting in the park or the back garden with your mates and your sunnies on.
The popularity of Pimms as the essential summer drink in recent years is all very well (don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff), but here’s a few slightly different ideas for quick, easy and delicious summery sort-of-cocktails, most of which were inspired by friends and family.