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Ceret cherriesA quick trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France this half-term week has reminded me of how the French celebrate the seasons so well.  The local markets were piled high with fruits and vegetables at their best with hardly a trace of any imports or anything which wasn’t in season.  In particular the cherries feted in Ceret this weekend were on sale at every street corner – and delicious they were too.  While cherries are feted here at events like the Brogdale Cherry Festival in July, how much more ingrained into the national psyche is a seasonal festival which involves not only a cherry delivery to the President, a window display at Galleries Lafayette (the French equivalent of Selfridges) but also a cherry stone spitting competition?

There are some great seasonal single food festivals in the UK – step forward as examples the Pershore Plum Festival which will celebrate all things plummy over the August bank holiday and the Whitstable Oyster Festival in July– but as a nation, we prefer regional events to make the most of the wonderful food produce we grow and sell locally rather than focusing on one particular food stuff. My feeling is that as long as our local food producers are feted, this can only be a good thing.

Of course, there are always the PR led food events like British Sausage Week to remind us of some of our favourite foods:  I had the pleasure of working on this wonderfully quirky event many moons ago and the sight of a six foot sausage costume in the office will stay with me forever….

There are a number of websites to help us Brits eat more seasonally – and maybe encourage us to host more foodie events for single foodstuffs in season – like Eat the Seasons and Eat Seasonably, so there’s no real reason not to embrace the wonderful seasonal delights our food producers and food retailers tempt us with.

My trip has also inspired me to buy Caroline Conran’s book Le Sud de France: The Food & Cooking of the Langudeoc and I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes with ingredients rooted in history and their terroir. Other new cookery books which are on my shopping list are those which were celebrated at the Guild of Food Writers Awards last night:

Cookery Book of the Year Award (Sponsored by Thermomix)

Winner: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press)

The other shortlistees were:

Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes by Ariana Bundy (Simon & Schuster)

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Salt Sugar Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat and Fish by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley)

Food Book of the Year Award

Winner: What to Eat? 10 Chewy Questions About Food by Hattie Ellis (Portobello Books)

The other shortlistees were:

What to Eat: Food that’s good for your health, pocket and plate by Joanna Blythman (4th Estate)

Consider the Fork: A History of Invention in the Kitchen by Bee Wilson (Particular Books)

Michael Smith Award for Work on British Food

Winner: Calf’s Head and Coffee: The Golden Age of Food presented by Stefan Gates (Crocodile Media for BBC Four)

The other shortlistees were:

The British Larder: A Cookbook For All Seasons by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel (Absolute Press)

The Food Programme: BBC Food and Farming Awards presented by Sheila Dillon and Valentine Warner (BBC Radio 4)

Fiona Hunter low resI’ve worked with nutritionist Fiona Hunter for a number of years on behalf of some of my foodie clients and I’m delighted to share her nutritional views as she launches her new website, www.fionahunter-nutrition.co.uk.

Fiona explains her philosophy on nutrition; “My approach to healthy eating is based on the principle that ‘there’s no such thing as a bad food only bad diets’. Of course some foods are healthier than others but, providing most of what you eat most of the time is healthy and balanced, that’s enough.

Food is one of life’s great pleasures or at least it should be and it’s important to enjoy the food you eat. It’s also important that you look after your body – it’s the only one you’ve got and it’s got to last a lifetime so you need to cherish it.  Although choosing a healthy diet is just one part of the ‘looking-after-your-body’ jigsaw – I believe it’s a pretty fundamental part.”

Fiona is based in west London and the southwest of France and loves her life as a freelance as no two days are ever the same.  “I may be counting calories and doing nutritional analyses for recipes in magazines like delicious or for a book one day, the next I could be creating briefing documents or running journalist workshops on a holistic approach to skin health for Simple Skincare http://www.simple.co.uk/Skincare-Solutions/Meet-Our-Experts.aspx on nutrition and skin and then I turn to updating my blog.

Fiona Hunter recipe shot 2Having written a lot for magazines which typically have long lead times, I felt that I wanted an outlet to let people know about my news and views on nutrition as soon as a story hits the news agenda.  I am passionate about nutrition and I understand how people can become easily confused about the messages they absorb on and off line with the result that they don’t know who to trust.  My approach is to offer sensible, evidence based, realistic and credible advice and comment – let me know what you think on my blog.”

Fiona Hunter recipe shotWhen it comes to giving advice on cooking, Fiona leans towards the simple, honest, quick, easy and healthy dishes that she would cook at home.  “I’m not a trained home economist but with my knowledge of nutrition I am able to create recipes which help maintain optimum health.  While my Twitter profile @fiona_nutrition highlights the fact that I love marmite, Cornish pasties and peanut butter but not necessarily at the same meal, I err on the side of fridge soup, eggs, fish and fruit and vegetables when at home.  I’m not a saint though and salty and fatty food like bacon and sweet treats like chocolate both form part of my healthy balanced diet.  My advice is to enjoy what you eat and don’t feel guilty about it.”

Recipe images courtesy of British Asparagus – enjoy it while it’s in season.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Mark Harris of Enterprise Doctor to share his views on outsourcing:

“As a business delivering a service to businesses, Enterprise Doctor can be described as an outsource business – instead of doing something yourself, you get us to do it.  Outsourcing can certainly have negative stigmas attached to it: there can be concerns about replacing existing staff with staff elsewhere, who may be in another country reducing the tax paid to the UK government or in this country but on a lower salary with worse working conditions than existing staff.

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