Gaga for Guga and Raw Milk Cheese

Sorry, for the lack of an update for last week’s classes, but I figured that mammoth post of the trip to Lewis was more than enough to try and digest.img_5378

Speaking of digestion, we all tasted the guga that was gifted to us and it wasn’t bad at all! The smell in the university’s kitchen was quite pungent (I’d call it eau de low tide), but the flavor of the bird was like an oily, fishy duck.

Can’t say I could eat a whole meal of guga, but it definitely exceeded expectations. Last week we also discussed gender and food on Monday, and had the much anticipated (and stress-inducing) science exam Tuesday afternoon… suffice it to say a drink (or two) was in order after that.

fullsizerender-2This week we had a whole host of really interesting guests. On Monday, we had Barry Graham from Loch Arthur Creamery in Dumfries (about a two hour drive South from Edinburgh) speak about the cheesemaking process, and the tradition of it here in Scotland.

He did this all while making a batch of fresh cheese right in front of us.

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A cheesy closeup

After an absolutely enthralling chat (I could have listened to him tell us loads of more stories), Barry kindly gave us a tasting of a delicious French Camembert in addition to their own raw milk cheeses, Crannog, a soft mild cheese that is available plain, with chives, or with green peppercorns (the peppercorn one we tried) as well as their signature Loch Arthur Farmhouse Cheese… eating that was a religious experience (sweet dreams are made of cheese…).

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Cheese makes gastronauts very happy

We also had Fabrizia Lanza, who travelled all the way from Sicily, visit us for both class days. She runs a cooking school in Sicily called Anna Tasca Lanza, where she holds a 10 week course that runs every Winter through early Spring called ‘Cook The Farm,’ where students from all over the world learn about Sicilian cuisine and take a closer look at a specific Mediterranean country’s for comparison. It sounds like Heaven on Earth.

She spoke to us about her cooking school as well as food in Sicily. Sicily is chock full of biodiversity, largely because they never industrialized. She told us that there’s over 200 (!) varieties of almonds found on the Italian island.

Speaking with her, I also learned that she’s been to the Hudson Valley and has even been to Essex Farm in upstate New York, one of the many farms I worked with at my last job before coming here… talk about a small world!

On Tuesday, we had Brian Power, from London Metropolitan University, who spoke to us about dietetics as well as the importance of fact checking food research (and how/where to properly do it), especially those studies we hear about in the news… much of it is misleading, and in a few cases as he put it, “quackery.”

We also had Elizabeth Roberts, an Ayurvedic practitioner visit, who provided us with a more holistic perspective on nourishment and nutrition. What’s Ayurveda you ask? Well, it’s an ancient Indian medicinal system. Depending on your dominant dosha (one of three elements found in your body), Vitta, Pitta, or Kapha, there are recommended herb and spice blends and foods to help aid in your digestive and overall health. It ended up being a very interesting discussion about an alternative medicinal practice.

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