Do we eat to live, or live to eat?

        When we are born, we have an innate reflex to eat. At first, being mammals, our primary food is our mother’s milk. But as time passes we develop and grow, and as our physical needs for nutritional support increase, we desire to eat different kinds of foods – this is a natural process that is inbuilt into our genetics.

        But sometimes, there are some foods that we just cannot grow to like. Why?

Why do we like or dislike certain foods?

        All foods have important organoleptic, or sensory, characteristics – they are everything we can sense: smell, taste, colour, shape, texture, etc. These characteristics help us to choose which foods we want and, with time, we can decide whether to like or dislike eating something.

        Usually our first impression of the food is the most important, if not crucial. If the food satisfies all of our senses at that moment, we cannot but help liking it. On the other hand, should one of those organoleptic characteristics not appeal to us, we may reject the food.

        Food producers well know that these characteristics are important to consumers. Therefore, with the help of additives and chemical compounds, they seek to trick the senses by increasing the smell and taste intensity, or by changing the colour of the product to make it more appealing. As a result, we can sometimes grow to like – or potentially become addicted to – certain foods.

        But what’s the catch?

The catch

        These Organoleptic characteristics which are so attractive are only important to use before we actually ingest the food. To be sure, we enjoy the smell of the food and the taste while we chew it and this brings us a degree of satisfaction. However, when this food is swallowed, these characteristics are no longer important.

        Rather, the thing that is most important is the nutritional value: its chemical composition. As we highlighted at the outset, we need to satisfy our nutritional requirements in order to sustain the healthy operation of the organism, namely our bodies.

        Regrettably, many people today place too much importance on the food being pleasurable to the senses, rather than being beneficial to the body. One such example is that of carbonated soft drinks. We enjoy the sweet smell and refreshing taste, and are sometimes fascinated by the array of colours. But by taking these into our body, we pump our bodies full of CO2 which it must then expel as soon as possible, as well as receiving excess carbohydrates which can seriously affect our health over time.

Conclusion

        Surely many of us would agree that we love eating – we could even say that we live to eat. But we must concede that we eat to live – it is a vital feature of our ability to survive. Therefore, whilst we always seek to enjoy our food, we must also consider how what benefit or harm it will cause to us. We must bear in the mind that the more processed the product is and the more changes that have been made to its basic ingredients, the less benefit it has to our bodies.

        Our Little Bay and Foodilic restaurants always seek to provide the freshest, most nutritious and delicious food to their customers – freshly preparing all their dishes to retain the organoleptic characteristics as well as the nutritional benefit. View our menus and book your table now.

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Chocolate – Naughty Treat, or Nutritional Gem?

        If you’re not sure what to buy someone as a gift, you’ll find a very safe bet in chocolate. Often referred to as the queen of confectionery world, chocolate is a firm favourite with children across the globe, as it is for adults too (in moderation, of course). In fact, it is rare to find someone who does not eat chocolate at all – many will say they cannot live without it and others, for whom it is not a favourite, still find it to be appetising.

        In today’s healthy society, adults feel compelled to tell children that it is not good to eat chocolate, because their teeth will fall out, they will become ill, they will develop acne, or some other baseless menacing argument to strike fear into them.

        Chocolate has played a key role in the lives of many for millennia, be it as a foodstuff, a drink, for smoking or for use in magic rituals – wherever you go and whatever language is spoken, people will all recognise chocolate. The production of chocolate became widespread within the Maya and Aztec civilisations, with secret recipes being passed down through the generations. However, the chocolate as they would have known it would not be recognisable to us today.

        In these ancient civilisations, there was no use of sugar in the production of chocolate – resulting in a bitter, rich chocolate. Legend has it that sugar was integrated into the production process by accident.

        The cook in the kitchens of Marshal du Plessis-Praslin, a sugar industrialist of the late 17th Century, had developed the idea of the ‘pralin’ – whole almonds individually coated in caramelised sugar – named in honour of the Duke. At this time, although the New World had been discovered and settled, chocolate-producing cocoa was not widely used in European cooking. However, the cook did start producing chocolate in his kitchen.

        On one occasion, the cook accidentally mixed his ‘pralin’ into the chocolate mixture. The resulting ‘chocolat praliné’ was presented to the Comte du Plessis-Praslin who was astounded by this new dessert. Thus, the concept of the Chocolate Praline was born.

       In time, further experimentation with the production process and use of other ingredients resulted in the creation of the great variety of chocolates that we know and love today, from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, soft centred or solid. Furthermore, with the invention of new technology over the ages, the confectionery industry has really seen a boom in the manufacture of chocolate and chocolate products.

        Without a doubt, chocolate has conquered and continues to conquer the world. But along the way many mistruths have arisen about chocolate. Let’s consider some of these.

 

Truths and mistruths about Chocolate

        One of the primary misconceptions about chocolate is that it is unhealthy due to a high level of caffeine. In fact, chocolate contains 75% less caffeine than a cup of coffee.  Some people believe that eating sugary chocolate will lead to weight gain. However, providing a high enough level of physical activity is maintained, eating chocolate will not have any negative effects.

        Especially beneficial are the ‘darker’ varieties of chocolate, which contain more of the cocoa solids. It has become particularly popular with the health-conscious. Being rich in so-called “positive cholesterol”, dark chocolate also contains a vast amount of mineral salts which greatly contribute to the remineralisation and revitalisation of the body. The more bitter varieties of dark chocolate are extremely rich in Iron, comparable to a portion of red meat. There are even varieties of chocolate specifically for diabetics, in which the sugar is substituted with an artificial sweetener.

 

The Conclusion?

        So can we say that chocolate is beneficial in our diet? Indeed it is! Recent scientific studies have shown that the intake of chocolate correlates to positive effects on blood pressure levels, circulation and heart health, being naturally high in anti-oxidants. Small amounts of chocolate also induce stronger concentration and other mental faculties.

        Due to its high energy value, chocolate – especially the darker varieties – is useful to those with physically demanding jobs. Due to its high calcium concentrations, chocolate helps with muscle contraction, including the heart muscles, and encourages enzymatic processes in our body. Furthermore, chocolate contains certain alkaloids such as theobromine and caffeine with stimulate the kidneys and brain respectively.

        So, having weighed the evidence, we can rightly assert that chocolate, especially in its darker and more concentrated varieties,  is a nutritional gem beneficial to both mind and body.

“In Vino Veritas” – The History of Wine and its uses

        Our story begins in ancient times, 6000 years B.C., in the territory of modern-day Georgia. Someone mistakenly left a certain amount of grapes lying in the sun, causing it to spontaneously ferment and produce liquid, which is now considered to be the forerunner of what we now know as ‘wine’.

        This divine drink is certainly one of the oldest examples of produce from early civilisation that has been unearthed. The Ancient Egyptians first recognised the importance of recording the geographic origin of wines, doing so by labelling their containers. In Ancient Greece, wine was viewed as a powerful elixir with many myths and legends being told of its power, and numerous festivities were performed in honour of Dionysus, the Greek God of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine.

        By the Roman era, there was a mass cultivation of vineyards across Europe, encouraged by their enhanced knowledge of grape diseases and recognition of the qualities of the various grape varieties. During the Middle Ages, the monks and religious leaders took note of the importance of wine, and therefore assigned it more of a religious significance. But by far the largest contribution to the wine industry was the widespread use of the glass bottle in 1622, which thereby enabled mass production and distribution of the wine without spoiling. As a result, wine is enjoyed today in all parts of the globe.

        In our Modern era, wine has played a major role. Many artists have found inspiration through it, and sought refuge in it. Wine has been instrumental to their lives as they have relied upon it to clear their minds of the distractions of life, achieving a state of peace and serenity through which they accomplish their most exquisite works, and are thereby indebted to it. It is said that “Wine is the Sun poured into a glass, and the glass is the last robe of the wine on its journey to our senses.” 

        Alexander Fleming, the world-famous scientist and inventor of Penicillin, once said “It is true that Penicillin cures people, but it is wine that makes them happy.” Mihajlo Pupin, Serbian Physicist and Chemist and founder member of what later became NASA, said “Wine should be integrated into our meals, as a diamond is integrated into a ring.” One humourous remark says “One drinks wine with one’s spirit, and beer with one’s stomach.”

        The art of corresponding a wine to a food is a great one, and one which many would say does not have strict rule. Indeed this is true, for it is said ‘de gustibus non est disputandum’ (in matters of taste, there can be no disputes). Nevertheless, we would like to present you with a few suggestions of combinations. 

        Wines can be chosen to suit the food, or vice versa. However, the wine should be an accompaniment to the food and not simply can after-thought. The basic rule in wine consummation is, first, to completely swallow a mouthful of the food and then to take a sip of wine. It is not beneficial to partake of the wine whilst chewing the food, as it would only serve to act as a spice to the food. 

         Examples of successful tried-and-tested wine combinations include:

  • Strong, flavourful meats, especially game, are best accompanied by strong red wines, well-aged, which are rich in tannins with a bitter tone. The aroma of such wines is more conspicious if cooled to a temperature of 15-17 ºC – therefore, to achieve the rich aroma required, the wine should be allowed to warm slightly
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is well suited to warm Lamb, as are all strong, matured wines of the Bordeaux variety
  • Appetisers, Chicken dishes and Mediterranean meals rich in creamy sauces are finely complemented by a mild, swaying white wine
  • In general, Mushroom dishes are best served with a red wine variety
  • In some cases, flavour combinations can contrast rather that complement each other to achieve a successful result. For example, Salmon served in a Hollandaise Sauce may conventionally be accompanied by a creamy Chardonnay of similar flavour profile, whereas a Riesling from Germany would provide a refreshing taste contrast for the palate
  • Dessert wines are usually served with desserts.

        Wine is often viewed as a potent aphrodisiac and finds an integral role in the search for romance. So we invite you to immerse yourself in the art form that is wine. Experiment with flavour combinations, seek new and exciting ways to enjoy its splendour. And yet, there is but one rule to this art to which you must alway abide – Provide your senses with a complete indulgence.

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Enjoy the splendour of this intoxicating elixir at our Little Bay restaurants, which pride themselves of their wide ranges of White, Red and Rose wines, as well as a selection of Sparkling Wines and Champagnes. Do visit us and experiment with your tastebuds! – www.littlebay.co.uk