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You know your food – you’ve had your say

Food is a subject that’s especially close to our hearts at the moment as this month sees the Time & Leisure Food and Drink Awards winners being announced.

It’s been another extraordinary year for the awards with a staggering 8,045 votes being cast. If the winner had stood in the last European Parliamentary elections they’d probably have won a seat.

So does this deluge of gastronomic opinion reflect a surge of interest in food? Anton Mosimann certainly thinks so (see page 16). His view is that we Britons are now more food aware than we’ve ever been. What stands out to him is that the change has been brought about quite suddenly in the last ten years or so. Certainly one can trace a steady growth in the number of celebrity chefs, TV programmes and cook books over the last decade. Like many trends, there’s a bit of chicken and egg about understanding whether these chefs, programmes and books arrived in response to public demand or whether our interest in food has been driven by the greater exposure to food-related content.

It’s probably a bit of both, but one thing I recall from school economics classes is that an interest in food is usually a product of having a more affluent society, with eating out and buying organic produce both considered ‘luxury’ items. That would certainly tie in with the late nineties growth of interest in eating out, cooking more unusual dishes at home and buying organic and free range produce. But equally one would have expected less interest in food during our current, epic recession. Yet that’s not been the case. So could it be that our attitude to food has actually changed for good; ready meals will be consigned to compost heap of history and the future is an organic, free-range utopia?

Unlikely - but at least 8,045 of you have let the chefs and producers of south London know what you like right now...

Jon Watt is editor of the Clapham & Battersea and Fulham editions of Time & Leisure Magazine.