Never eat yellow snow

by Sam Bilton on March 5, 2013 No comments

I saw a T-shirt in a bar brandishing this slogan whilst skiing earlier this year. It’s sound advice which I have naturally passed on to my two ski-bum-wanna-be sons. I would add to this: always put the loo seat down (fighting a losing battle on this one) and never eat anything that glows.

Food that glows surely can’t be good for you, right?

But it seems that it is good enough for the likes of Dame Vivienne Westwood, Jo Wood and Clive Anderson. They will be among 300 lucky guests tucking into an intriguing array of dishes, including glow in the dark cucumber, at the Friends of the Earth Extraordinary Banquet next Thursday (14 March).

So how exactly do you make a cucumber glow?

“First we make a solution of vodka and lemonade to which we add a Sosa product called Glow,” explained Jon Gilbert of Zafferano, the Executive Chef behind the Extraordinary Banquet menu. “ Then we vacuum infuse this liquid into the cucumber. When the cucumber is served on a specially made platter incorporating a UV light, it glows.”

It turns out that Glow is essentially Riboflavin which is the ingredient in the vitamin drink Berocca that makes it radiate. This particular canapé sounds healthier already.

John Gilbert (left) and the Zafferano team discussing Extraordinary Banquet menu

Jon Gilbert (left) and the Zafferano team discussing Extraordinary Banquet menu

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a tantalising insight into the banquet menu which will also include edible sand and soil, pistachio trees, passion fruit caviar, jewelled quail eggs, agave nectar, and strawberry and cream mushrooms. It sounds amazing but Friends of the Earth Event Organiser, Beth Crackles, reminded me that there is a serious purpose behind the dinner. Namely to raise vital funds for the charity’s environmental campaigning.

“We wanted to set ourselves apart from other charity gala events so we went with a bespoke, experimental menu.” said Beth. “We used our brand concept of ‘see things differently’ as the focus to present people with food that isn’t quite what it seems, such as edible habitats that really play with the senses.”

During the meal the guests will be invited to ‘forage’ for their dinner. The first course (an edible garden) will involve fresh cheeses being hung from trees tied up with luggage label crackers and terra cotta pots “planted” with baby vegetables. The dessert course, including those delicious sounding fungi, will be eaten from logs. Sandwiched in between will be two further courses featuring a fish free scallop and a truffle risotto ‘drumstick’. Thankfully, there most definitely will not be any yellow snow on offer.

“We have tried to move away from the generic dinner format where courses are served one after the other on plates,” said Jon.

The Zafferano team hard at work preparing for the banquet

The Zafferano team hard at work preparing for the banquet

“We took the standard food model that we all experience, whereby our food is taken from the environment, sanitised, processed and turned into something that doesn’t resemble anything once living and re-presented in a sterile palatable way,” continued John. “By turning this on it’s head we have created a series of edible environments, where the ingredients are presented as you would find them in nature. The consumption of these environments shows how important our connection to the land is, and the impact we have on the environment in order to sustain ourselves.”

This event echoes the life and principles of one of Friends of the Earth’s most celebrated supporters, the late Linda McCartney. Her husband Paul has overseen the creation of the meat free menu which is also entirely trans-fat and GM free.

“We want our guests to have an extraordinary evening: to experience a delicious, experimental menu that they won’t find anywhere else, to enjoy the varied entertainment, and above all, to see Friends of the Earth differently,” concluded Beth.

I believe there are still a few tickets available should you wish to experience this Extraordinary Banquet yourself (the first event of its kind for Friends of the Earth). It promises to be a memorable evening and will hopefully strike the appropriate chord in raising awareness and funds for the Friends of the Earth’s campaigns.

Plus I’d go just to see whether the guests will emerge with curious Ready-Brek glow after eating the fluorescent cucumber.

Sam BiltonNever eat yellow snow

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