Sounds delicious!

It is over a century since Ivan Pavlov discovered that he could produce salivation in dogs by ringing a bell.  The dogs had been conditioned by hearing a ringing bell whenever they were fed and so in time would respond to the bell in the same way as they would to being fed.

This of course was a conditioned reflex, not a natural tendency, but an article I read recently suggests that there may be more that we can learn from associating sound and food.  A professor at Oxford University recently found that the taste of food is altered by the sounds that we hear when consuming it; low brass sounds create a bitter taste, whilst high-pitched melodies played on pianos or bells enhance sweetness.  (Maybe Caractacus Potts was onto something with his Toot Sweets).

I’ve known for sometime that Heston Blumenthal is a great believer in these effects having seen him conduct experiments with crisps or biscuits some time ago.  The sound of their crunch being as important as the actual sensation it seemed.  With a crisp manufacturer changing their packaging to make their product “sound fresher” there has to be something in it.

Today’s portrait is of local butcher and award-winning sausage maker Paul from East Boldon.  I was certainly salivating when in his shop today, but that was from the wonderful spicy aromas within rather than any sonic conditioning.  Nevertheless it does raise an important point.  Should he get a bell for his bicycle?


The Great British Breakfast…

is probably kippers or kedgeree for kayak fishermen like these, but what did you have for breakfast this morning?  Did you have anything at all?  Are you a cooked or cold lover?  Healthy or heart attack?

I know from my links to education just how important this meal is in given brain and body the fuel to get the day off to a good start yet I fear that an area where we once were world beaters is falling into a sad decline.  It may be called “the full English” but how many of us partake of it, other than when your trying to extract maximum value from your accommodation costs in a hotel with a good buffet option?

The morning fry up was an Edwardian innovation; an opportunity for landowners with a few pigs and chickens to demonstrate the quality of his produce to overnight visitors.  With the household staff otherwise occupied with chores it was designed to be eaten without domestic servants waiting on diners, leading to the “help yourself according to what you fancy” approach that continues in larger hotels now.  What probably began as bacon, sausage, eggs and mushrooms has grown to include beans, tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding, haggis, saute potatoes, hash browns, and more.  I’ve eaten most, but have never really been drawn to devilled kidneys!  Got to have HP sauce though.

Over the years, this morning repast was claimed by the working classes and became the staple fayre of any greasy spoon worth its salt!

So what started the decline?  I blame our transatlantic cousins, and in particular the Kellogg family.  John Harvey Kellogg, a doctor and theologian was a keen advocate of vegetarianism, and a strong believer in abstinence.  He gave momentum to those hard-core porridge and muesli lovers who believe that if it tastes of anything pleasant it is to be spurned!  John Harvey invented the cornflake.

His brother Will Keith Kellogg, who was having none of this restraint, took his brother’s invention, liberally added salt and sugar and founded what we now know as Kelloggs.  Millions of dollars of advertising, and brightly coloured boxes later and I grew up to be a cereal eater, and I still am, though appalled at the food industries insatiable appetite(!) for adding to chocolate to everything cereal now.  What is that doing to the diets of our children who are lured by the cartoon characters that adorn every tooth rotting box?

Today’s portrait subject John would have to opt for “other” if this morning is representative of his normal start the day routine.  He had cheese on toast.

Blue sky, beach, Ben & Barry

Another Bank Holiday Monday!  In our strangely unbalanced public holiday system they just keep coming at this time of the year.  Feels great at the time, but once Spring is over there’s a long wait before any more arrive.

What was even stranger was that it was such a beautiful morning.  Rain, sleet and hail have all been mentioned in recent weather forecasts so of course we had blue skies instead.  To be fair there’s plenty of time for the clouds to arrive, and as I’m going to be spending the day in Northumberland it’s bound to rain at some point!

I was on the beach early this morning which meant that the dog walkers were my only companions, but with the sea front cleared of yesterday’s cones and tape there were more of them.

Of course fate decreed that I didn’t need them.  The nearest person to me as I arrived on the beach was Barry; a nice man and a great subject.

He was out walking his greyhound, Ben who came to join us immediately.  For a moment I was going to be shooting the partnership, which would have been a pity as I would have lost the detail of Barry’s great expression.  I commented on how friendly Ben was, to which Barry replied that he was anyone’s friend, but especially if they had a sausage or a pork pie!  This surprised me momentarily as greyhounds (Ben included) are so sleek, then I thought of my daughter Holly; long and lean but addicted to pork pies.  Nuff said.

Anyway it seemed that Ben could be tempted away by more than just meat products for another dog came bounding by overjoyed at the space available for running wild.  Well if there’s running to be done you can’t hold a greyhound back and soon Ben was away with his new friend.

This suited me perfectly as it gave me the chance to concentrate on getting that great image of Barry.  Thanks Ben.