Archive | December, 2011

A food poverty trap?

19 Dec


Interesting Guardian article by Zoe Williams this week, framing the links between poverty, bad eating and poor health as a consequence of economics, not just education.

It riffs on a lighthearted piece at the Student Beans website about cooking a cheap and cheerful/nasty Christmas dinner out of processed food, making the point that if a site was discussing hard-up people other than studes (“the acceptable face of poverty”) doing the same, the tone would be pretty different.

I wrote a list two weeks ago about some of the independent retailers I’ve found to buy good food for relatively little cash since moving to Bristol. Having the choice to shop at these places is down to a couple of factors:

  • Living in the inner city, close to the intersections of many different areas. On one side is a main road packed with independent supermarkets catering to local BME communities; on the other a neighbourhood heavily populated by relatively affluent hippies and their brethren in which local food shops are a given.
  • Being young and mobile enough to get to these different places by bike and therefore shop cheaply – or do the same at a big supermarket – meaning the lack of a car isn’t an issue.

In north Sheffield, where I worked for five years, many outlying areas where money is tightest and car ownership lowest have fewest amenities – so least choice – within easy walking distance. This pattern is typical of many parts of the UK, especially in today’s chilly financial climate.

Education about eating well is clearly important – it’s grim as hell meeting kids barely able to identify a vegetable or a piece of meat. But if keeping your family fed is manageable from your local cut-price freezer centre, and a struggle from the expensive supermarket franchise next door, then putting that theory into practice isn’t necessarily straightforward.

Real Italian Pizza Company, Bath

6 Dec

Four seasons in one minute (almost)


Being a man with a ridiculously high metabolism who needs serious carb fuel roughly every two to three hours, pizza has long been a diet staple of mine. Sometimes there’s no substitute for food that can just be picked up and shoved straight into the face like a furnace being stoked.

But it’s still got to taste good; few things in my life bring on an over-dramatic tantrum faster than the Weak Pizza. So when an email from one of my colleagues pings into my inbox suggesting an after work trip to Bath’s Real Italian Pizza Co – and is followed up by some downright greedy responses from others on the list – I’m drooling hard.

It being the week before payday, no-one is feeling particularly flush – but no matter, the RIPC also generously has an ongoing policy of matching any current offer from the big chains such as Pizza Express or Zizzi. In other words, rock up carrying a voucher from a competitor restaurant, and it’ll be honoured.

In the event, just making it over to the restaurant proves a struggle. Bath Christmas market is newly under way, meaning the route is littered with food scents fine enough to drag even the most determined pizza seeker off course. At length though, we’re there and in business.

In keeping with the simple eats being discussed, there’s actually not much need to dwell on the meal itself. The inside of the Pizza Co is clean and functional, and cold Peronis (three varieties are available) arrive quickly. Crucially, though, the pizza bases are thin but not over-crunchy, the sauce is sufficiently jam-like and garlicky, the anchovies and olives are moist and tangy, and the pepperoni is pungent and thickly sliced.

It’s not quite Gone In 60 Seconds, but not far away. The bill comes to around £9 per head. There’s no good reason not to go there, really.

The Real Italian Pizza Company is at 17 York Street, Bath BA1 1NG