food / travel
February 07, 2014
LONDON — In one of the first scenes of the Franco-Italian film classic La Grande Bouffe (1973) actors Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret and Ugo Tognazzi gather at a long wooden kitchen table in a country house. The four friends intend to commit suicide with an orgy of eating, and this is the table where they are going to prepare the dishes on which they will binge to death.
When they arrive at the country house, they enjoy a first snack: roasted pork bones. “I’ve been eating these since I was a kid,” says Tognazzi’s character, grabbing one of the bones and noisily sucking out the marrow. Mastroianni does the same, only more elegantly: He scrapes the marrow out with a knife.
For Fergus Henderson, this is the key scene in the movie. Had it landed on the cutting room floor, he probably wouldn’t be the creator of “Nose to Tail” cuisine, a culinary movement that has spread from London to New York and Los Angeles and now here to Germany.
During a visit to the British chef on a cold wet London morning, Henderson explained that the film scene helped shape his culinary philosophy — which is not terribly new, though it has fallen out of fashion in our affluent society. He has embraced and is advancing traditional methods of cooking that use every edible bit of an animal.
Many years after seeing the movie, the now 50-year-old Henderson turned oven-roasted bone marrow into a signature dish around the world with the publication of his 2004 cookbook, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. Henderson, a large, strong man, invited us to interview him at his minimalist restaurant St. John in the London neighborhood of Smithfield.
It is only 11 a.m., but the chef is already sipping Madeira and eating warm pound cake from his bakery. He says he doesn’t use pork bones for his signature dish, preferring veal bones instead. “Roasted bone marrow is the only dish that’s been on the menu daily for 20 years,” he says. It is served with toasted bread, parsley salad and grey sea salt.
With the exception of this, the menu at St. John changes every day: Nature, Henderson is fond of saying, determines his menus — pheasant, hare, rabbit, whatever’s available. Lamb offal (internal organs and entrails) may be on the menu, or whole quail, crispy pork skin, pig’s ears, and pig’s feet.
“When you kill an animal,” Henderson says, “it’s only polite to use every bit of it.” Pork, however, remains the specialty and Henderson’s favorite to cook with. A pig adorns the logo of his brand that now includes a second restaurant and a hotel. “I don’t think there’s a single photograph of me where there isn’t also a pig in it,” he says grinning.
At least one good cook in the UK
In Great Britain, Fergus Henderson is a star, a poster child for good British cooking (yes, it does exist). Cooks around the world, albeit mainly in New York but also Los Angeles and Germany, are now copying his St. John concept. The restaurant has had a Michelin star since 2009.
Henderson doesn't mind the hype (Jake Tilson)
Like the designer who sees his whole collection copied by Zara, Henderson — who never completed classical culinary training — is accustomed to being imitated. His girlfriend April Bloomfield exported his cooking approach to Manhattan, serving dishes such as salad with crispy pork ears in her Spotted Pig eatery. She managed to achieve what celebrated male colleagues like British chef Gordon Ramsay never did: New York standing in line for a table at her gastro pub. Henderson and Bloomfield (also the author of the cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig) work together a lot, and launched the annual “FergusStock” event.
Henderson takes a relaxed attitude when he sees restaurants like Prune in New York also serving roasted bone marrow with parsley salad, toasted bread and sea salt, or when the restaurant Animal in Los Angeles hypes dishes such as veal brains and carrots.
What he doesn’t like is poor imitation — like the half raw, inedible sheep’s head he was once served in a New York restaurant. “What we’re doing is delicate and feminine, not raw and hard,” he says.
Henderson believes that the West’s meat industry is responsible for old cooking customs fading. Consumers no longer have connections to the animals, he says. He calls the saran-wrapped cuts available in supermarkets “pink in plastic.” Except for the genitalia, which he personally doesn’t like, he doesn’t believe any parts of an animal are inedible, and points out that it used to be normal to eat kidneys, tripe and fat.
But Henderson doesn’t see educating people as part of his mission. He’s less interested in conversion, and more concerned that food tastes good. He says he got his taste for offal from his mother, who used to make dishes from it. He doesn’t like to hear his work described as a trend: “Trend is a bad word. I see it more as an approach.”
The movement’s German version
In Germany, the approach is most often focused on offal — at Hartmanns in Berlin or Otto Koch’s Restaurant 181 in Munich, for example. But for the real deal, seek out Cyriacus Schultze, who runs the Heitlinger restaurant in Kraichgau, Baden-Württemberg, and who calls it “The Whole Beast” principle.
“Whoever eats meat,” Schultze is quoted as saying on his web page, “should not only do so in moderation but with their eyes open — and they should prepare the entire animal.” At his eatery, an animal is bought, slaughtered, butchered and prepared. The meat and innards are served to guests in several courses. Beaks, claws and tendons are cooked and used to make broths or sauces.
More respect for animals is something that Dennis Buchmann, the German who created the My Little Farm website and who wants to “give pigs a face,” has long supported. Buchmann’s organically raised pigs are photographed and presented by name on the site so that customers know what — or rather, who — they are eating. The ultimate goal is to reduce consumption by making consumers more conscious.
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Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
October 17, 2021
It's hard to overstate the damage the pandemic has had on the airline industry, with global revenues dropping by 40% in 2020 and dozens of airlines around the world filing for bankruptcy. One moment last year when the gravity became particularly apparent was when Asian carriers (in countries with low COVID-19 rates) began offering "flights to nowhere" — starting and ending at the same airport as a way to earn some cash from would-be travelers who missed the in-flight experience.
More than a year later today, experts believe that air traffic won't return to normal levels until 2024.
But beyond the financial woes, the unprecedented slowdown in air travel may bring some silver linings as key aspects of the industry are bound to change once back in full spin, with some longer-term effects on aviation already emerging. Here are some major transformations to expect in the coming years:
Cleaner aviation fuel
The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden and the airline industry recently agreed to the ambitious goal of replacing all jet fuel with sustainable alternatives by 2050. Already in a decade, the U.S. aims to produce three billion gallons of sustainable fuel — about one-tenth of current total use — from waste, plants and other organic matter.
While greening the world's road transport has long been at the top of the climate agenda, aviation is not even included under the Paris Agreement. But with air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel.
Fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund.
In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials. Energy is supplied through wind turbines from the surrounding area, while the fuel's main ingredients are water and waste-generated CO2 coming from a nearby biogas plant.
Farther north, Norwegian Air Shuttle has recently submitted a recommendation to the government that fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund aimed at developing cleaner aviation fuel, according to Norwegian news site E24. The airline also suggested that the government significantly reduce the tax burden on the industry over a longer period to allow airlines to recover from the pandemic.
High-flying ambitions for the sector
Hydrogen and electrification
Some airline manufacturers are betting on hydrogen, with research suggesting that the abundant resource has the potential to match the flight distances and payload of a current fossil-fuel aircraft. If derived from renewable resources like sun and wind power, hydrogen — with an energy-density almost three times that of gasoline or diesel — could work as a fully sustainable aviation fuel that emits only water.
One example comes out of California, where fuel-cell specialist HyPoint has entered a partnership with Pennsylvania-based Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to manufacture 650-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircrafts. According to HyPoint, the system — scheduled for commercial availability product by 2025 — will have four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries and double the specific power of existing hydrogen fuel-cell systems.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce is looking to smash the speed record of electrical flights with a newly designed 23-foot-long model. Christened the Spirit of Innovation, the small plane took off for the first time earlier this month and successfully managed a 15-minute long test flight. However, the company has announced plans to fly the machine faster than 300 mph (480 km/h) before the year is out, and also to sell similar propulsion systems to companies developing electrical air taxis or small commuter planes.
New aircraft designs
Airlines are also upgrading aircraft design to become more eco-friendly. Air France just received its first upgrade of a single-aisle, medium-haul aircraft in 33 years. Fleet director Nicolas Bertrand told French daily Les Echos that the new A220 — that will replace the old A320 model — will reduce operating costs by 10%, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20% and noise footprint by 34%.
International first class will be very nearly a thing of the past.
The pandemic has also ushered in a new era of consumer demand where privacy and personal space is put above luxury. The retirement of older aircraft caused by COVID-19 means that international first class — already in steady decline over the last decades — will be very nearly a thing of the past. Instead, airplane manufacturers around the world (including Delta, China Eastern, JetBlue, British Airways and Shanghai Airlines) are betting on a new generation of super-business minisuites where passengers have a privacy door. The idea, which was introduced by Qatar Airways in 2017, is to offer more personal space than in regular business class but without the lavishness of first class.
Aerial view of Rome's Fiumicino airportcommons.wikimedia.org
Rome's Fiumicino Airport has become the first in the world to earn "the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating" from Skytrax, an international airline and airport review and ranking site, Italian daily La Repubblica reports. Skytrax, which publishes a yearly annual ranking of the world's best airports and issues the World Airport Awards, this year created a second list to specifically call out airports with the best health and hygiene standards.
The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
Data privacy issues
However, as pointed out in Canadian publication The Lawyer's Daily, increased use of AI and biometrics also means increased privacy concerns. For example, health and hygiene measures like digital vaccine passports also mean that airports can collect data on who has been vaccinated and the type of vaccine used.
Auckland Airport, New Zealand
The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less?
At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel in particular is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
Trying to forecast the future, experts point to the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks as at least a partial blueprint for what a recovery might look like in the years ahead. Twenty years ago, as passenger enthusiasm for flying waned amid security fears following the attacks, airlines were forced to cancel flights and put planes into storage.
40% of Swedes intend to travel less
According to McKinsey, leisure trips and visits to family and friends rebounded faster than business flights, which took four years to return to pre-crisis levels in the UK. This time too, business travel is expected to lag, with the consulting firm estimating only 80% recovery of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
But the COVID-19 crisis also came at a time when passengers were already rethinking their travel habits due to climate concerns, while worldwide lockdowns have ushered in a new era of remote working. In Sweden, a survey by the country's largest research company shows that 40% of the population intend to travel less even after the pandemic ends. Similarly in the UK, nearly 60% of adults said during the spring they intended to fly less after being vaccinated against COVID-19 — with climate change cited as a top reason for people wanting to reduce their number of flights, according to research by the University of Bristol.
At the same time, major companies are increasingly forced to face the music of the environmental movement, with several corporations rolling out climate targets over the last few years. Today, five of the 10 biggest buyers of corporate air travel in the US are technology companies: Amazon, IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft, according to Taipei Times, all of which have set individual targets for environmental stewardship. As such, the era of flying across the Atlantic for a two-hour executive meeting is likely in its dying days.
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SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
South China Morning Post (SCMP) is an English-language daily published in Hong Kong. Co-founded in 1903 by the British journalist Alfred Cunningham, the newspaper has an estimated circulation of 104.000. It is currently owned by Alibaba group.
La Repubblica is a daily newspaper published in Rome, Italy, and is positioned on the center-left. Founded in 1976, it is owned by Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.
E24 NÃ¦ringsliv is a Norwegian, online business newspaper launched on 18 April 2006. In the course of the first week of operations it became the largest business web site in Norway. In week 46, 2008, it had 575,000 unique users per week.
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