The Bug continues its look back at the big stories of 2019. Today we consider some sensational stories we broke during the year about the basic and sometimes not so basic foodstuffs we all eat and enjoy.
During 2019 The Bug broke shocking claims that Australia’s iconic national caked, the lamington, originated in France.
The accepted wisdom to date had been that the small chocolate and coconut-covered sponge was first baked and served in Brisbane to former Queensland Governor Lord Lamington in the late 19th century after his French-born chef needed to urgently feed unexpected guests and cobbled the cake together from leftover ingredients at hand.
But French food historian, Ethnique Stereotype (pictured) claimed the cake was first made in the French village of Amington in the early 19th century.
“It became so popular that it became inextricably linked to the village and took its name, becoming known as L’Amington. Its recipe remained unchanged for more than two centuries except for the years of food shortages and rationing covering the two World Wars when the chocolate coating and coconut could not be found or afforded and instead bakers substituted ground up cigarette ashes and dandruff,” M. Stereotype said.
Madame Es Cargot (pictured), a 96-year-old boulanger in the village of Bor de Line Racism, supported M. Stereotype’s claims.
“My mother and her mother and her mother and so on have handed down the recipe for L’Amington and I still use it today,” she said. “It belongs to France and you Aussies should, how you say?…. fuck off.”
During the year Arnott’s Biscuits unveiled new and more accurate names for its most popular varieties to meet new international and local trading rules that outlaw the use of place names except for products historically linked to specific locations or regions.
Arnott’s said the biscuits needing to undergo rebranding were the staples of the Arnott’s range, the Scotch Finger, the Monte Carlo, and the Nice.
It said the name Scotch Fingers would disappear and be replaced by “Partially Divided Fairly Bland And Somewhat Under-Baked Biscuits” while Monte Carlos would become “Baked Round Biscuits Glued Together By A Mysterious Yet Sweet Artificial Red and White Industrial Strength Paste”.
Similarly, Nice biscuits would now be known as “Flat Bland Biscuits Sprinkled With Too Much Sugar”.
Consumer group Choice scrapped plans for a controversial revamp of its nutrition ratings applied to common household foods such as breakfast cereals, biscuits and soft drinks.
“To be perfectly blunt, we’ve put our foot in it,” a Choice spokesperson said.
“While we have gone with our fallback position of an updated version of the star ratings system, we originally wanted a more direct and hard-hitting labelling system.
“Our original design was for a pile of shit to be applied to the packaging of foods that were not healthy for you, and for the shit symbol to grow in size in line with the unhealthiness of the product.
“For instance, wheat-based cereals that are not heavily processed would have a small shit symbol applied to their packaging. But cereals like chocolate-covered rice bubbles would have a huge shit on their box, so big it would almost obscure the brand and variety names.”
The spokesperson said Choice workshopped the concept for some months, but ultimately decided it couldn’t go ahead with it because in a limited consumer trial it found the “shit symbols” were actually encouraging people to buy shit products.
“Our original aim was to encourage healthy eating but it seems more and more Australians are quite happy to eat shit,” he said.
Exciting news broke during 2019 of an all-Australian scientific breakthrough enabling the manufacture of a range of vegetables, dairy products and seafoods that look and taste exactly like vegetables, dairy products and seafoods but are made entirely of meat.
The process was developed at the Central Queensland University laboratories in Rockhampton – the beef capital of the world – with Australian Livestock Corporation funding.
Research leader and food nutritionist Professor Col Esterol (pictured above in his laboratory) said the good news was that most of the substitutes had been produced using the poorest quality cuts of meat from cattle, sheep and pigs and chooks and were expected to retail at around half the price of the real things.
Prof Esterol invited The Bug to his lab and invited us to try apples made from the stomach lining of old dairy cows.
“See those brussel sprouts? All chicken gizzards, yet it looks and cooks like brussel sprouts. It even smells and tastes like brussel sprouts but we’re working on that.
“Have a taste of whatever you want – those chunky tuna pieces over there are made entirely from bulls’ testicles – and then we’ll wash it all down with a locally made chardonnay – and by that I mean made locally from liquefied steer sphincters.”
Buoyed by the public reception to marketing vegan foods through the inaugural nationwide Veganuary promotion in January 2019, Australia’s food producers outlined plans to launch similar campaigns for each month of the year.
Retail sector consultant Colin O’Skopie (pictured) told The Bug he had received strong interest from industry players in his proposal.
The Veganuary promotion encourages consumers to try vegan food for the first month of the year and convert to animal-free eating permanently.
But Mr O’Skopie said the industry needed targeted promotions for the full year and provided a list of the 12 month-long promotions he wanted the nation’s food industry to embrace in 2020. They included:
Jamuary: Encouraging Australians to eat nothing but jams and conserves for the month.
Flabuary: Capitalising on the adage “fat is where the flavour is”, consumers will be asked to eat nothing but the fat and rinds trimmed from meat cuts.
Starch: for the entire month Australians will be encouraged to eat nothing but foods high in starch such as cereals, noodles, rice, and pasta.
Apill: Diet and meal-substitute pills are legitimate foods and will do little harm if consumed with nothing else for 30 days, according to Mr O’Skopie.
Whey: Imagine a thin watery gruel, but with no solid bits of anything whatsoever. It’s all you’ll get for the month.
Jewn: A month in which nothing but kosher food is eaten.
Jew-lie: Another month of kosher dining for those Australians who pretended to eat kosher food the previous month but actually didn’t.
Auguts: A full 31 days in which to eat any and all foodstuffs that take your fancy with no limits on portion size and no restrictions on the number of meals or snacks to be consumed per day.
Peptember: A full month of eating nothing but peppers and chillies.
Hocktober: Those who still have a functioning digestive system and anal sphincter after the previous month will eat nothing but pork hocks – roasted, smoked, or cooked in any of a myriad of other ways.
Doughvember: An all-bread diet for the second-last month of the year. The timing of this month-long promotion happily coincides with the first hot-cross buns for the following year’s Easter appearing on supermarket shelves.
Gheecember: Mr O’Skopie said after the previous 11 months consumers would be looking forward to a variety of festive foods so they would be allowed to eat whatever they wanted for the last month of the year as long as it was cooked in, infused with, or spread with clarified butter.