Saturday, March 04, 2006

UK: Lords fight to save Stilton from food watchdog: "Below the gilded ceiling and the statues of the Magna Carta barons, the peers on the red benches of the House of Lords turn today from matters of state to a more exalted subject: Stilton. Like the aristocratic families whose descendants are still in the second chamber, the 'king of cheese' has ruled for hundreds of years, its blue veins a sign of its gastronomic lineage.Yet all is not well deep in the Stilton-producing counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Now the 21st century has arrived and a plan to reduce the saltiness of this most aristocratic of foods has caused a whiff of scandal in the Lords. ... At the centre of The Great Stilton Controversy is a proposal by officials in the Government's Food Standards Agency to reduce the cheese's saltiness from 2.3 per cent to 1.9 per cent. The Stilton Cheese Makers Association says the move would ruin the quality of Stilton, cause many batches to go off and occasionally lead to harmful bacteria being produced. Salt in Stilton is not just a matter of taste, the cheese-makers and their friends in high places say -- it is a vital ingredient."

Colour vision is for seeing you blush: "Primates may have evolved colour vision not to find the ripest, tastiest fruit but to detect that tell-tale blush on someone else's cheek, US researchers have reported . The cone structures in the eye that help detect colour seem exquisitely tuned to skin tones, the team at the California Institute of Technology reports. "For a hundred years, we've thought that color vision was for finding the right fruit to eat when it was ripe," Mark Changizi, a theoretical neurobiologist and postdoctoral researcher at Caltech who led the study, said. "But if you look at the variety of diets of all the primates having trichromat (three-color) vision, the evidence is not overwhelming." Instead, Dr Changizi and colleagues report in the latest issue of the journal Biology Letters, the system seems adapted especially to find the colours prevalent in primate skins - notably changes due to how much oxygenated haemoglobin is in the blood... The clincher - Dr Changizi said old-world primates that had the three-cone vision were also all bare-faced and bare-butted. "There's no sense in being able to see the slight colour variations in skin if you can't see the skin," Dr Changizi said".

Yukky Chinese restaurant: "The menu at Beijing's latest venue for its growing army of gourmets is eye-watering rather than mouth-watering. China's cuisine is renowned for being "in your face" - from the skinned dogs at food markets to scorpion kebabs in street stalls - and there is no polite way of describing Guolizhuang. Situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, it is China's first speciality penis restaurant. Here, businessmen and government officials can sample the organs of yaks, donkeys, oxen and even seals. In fact, they have to, since they form part of every dish - except for those containing testicles. "This is my third visit," said one customer, Liu Qiang. "Of course, there are other restaurants that serve the bian [penis] of individual animals. But this is the first that brings them all together." Since it set up in November, a booking comes with a trained waitress and a nutritionist to explain the menu and its medicinal virtues. In China, you are what you eat. Nutritionist Zhu Yan said the clients were mainly men eager to improve their yang, or virility. Women could benefit, too, she added, although she told a female photographer: "I wouldn't recommend the testicles. The testosterone might interfere in fertility. But many women say bian is good for the skin.""

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