Skip to content

You are reading 1 of 2 free-access articles allowed for 30 days

Spice of life and currying favour with the voters

Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam Paul Scully raised a few eyebrows, not to mention laughs, when he recently claimed that Britain leaving the EU would result in better-tasting curries. His reasoning was that limiting the number of migrants who could enter the EU would leave room for the arrival of more chefs from India.

“Leaving the EU would give us more flexibility to control our borders and tackle some of the unintended consequences of immigration from outside the EU,” says Scully. All fairly reasonable, you might think, before he adds: “Such things as the curry industry, bringing curry chefs over, might benefit.”

Identifying his rival’s attempt to woo the curry-munching demographic, Labour’s Steve McCabe also helped to reduce what is a serious debate to the level of the dinner plate.

“The balti business is very big in the Birmingham area,” he retorted. “The issue is not about whether one should have to bring over a chef from the Indian subcontinent in this day and age… If we cannot train people as balti chefs and curry chefs in this day and age, there is something badly wrong with our skills training in this country.”

Keeping it spicy, but switching to a more evidence-based approach, some researchers in Peking have tried to scientifically prove the long-standing urban myth that regularly eating hot, spicy foods leads to a decreased risk of mortality.

The prospective study was published recently in the BMJ and the team at the Peking University Health Science Centre followed 487,375 men and women, who did not have heart disease, cancer or stroke, for a median of 7.2 years.

They concluded that compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, “those who consumed spicy foods almost every day had a 14 per cent lower risk of death”.

In fairness, the authors did highlight potential limitations in their research, adding that a spicy diet “may be correlated with other dietary habits and lifestyle behaviours… further prospective studies in other populations [other than Chinese] would be essential to demonstrate generalisability of these findings”.

It was left to Prof Kevin McConway of the Open University in Buckinghamshire, UK, to pour a little cold water on this hot topic.

“Maybe this is something in the way spices are used in Chinese cooking, or related to other things people eat or drink with the spicy food,” he told The Guardian. “It’s important to realise that the study gives very little encouragement for the stereotypical English pastime of going out for several pints of beer and a hot curry. The relationship between spicy food and a lower death rate was apparent really only in people who didn’t drink alcohol at all.”

Now that makes more sense. But let’s not scoff at the curry-mortality theory — there may be a take-away message in there somewhere…

Meat is murder?

Keeping with the foodie theme for this issue, there has been an almighty kerfuffle over the recent proclamation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) linking meat consumption to certain types of cancer.

The WHO says there is “sufficient evidence” to connect processed meats such as ham, frankfurters and sausages to bowel cancer and red meat has now been classified as a “probable carcinogen”, placing it into the same category as glyphosphate, an active ingredient in weedkillers.

According to The Lancet Oncology, the highest levels of carcinogenic chemicals are produced by “high-temperature cooking by pan-frying, grilling or barbecuing” and it points out “positive associations” between red meat and advanced prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Prepare yourself for a major charm offensive from the farming industry and meat lobby. Perhaps we should also be mindful not to scare the public witless, to the point where they are afraid to eat anything at all.

Gagging the Vatican

In a job title straight out of a HSE manual, US Rabbi Bob Alper has been appointed ‘Comedic Advisor to the Pope’ after the recent ‘Joke with the Pope’ campaign ahead of the Pontiff’s visit to the US.

Video jokes were submitted, with a number of charities benefitting from the effort. Here’s a small selection of the gags the Pontiff had to wade through. All clean, of course.

  • “Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. He didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about the way his mother cooked.” Anon.
  • “Did you hear about the two antennae who got married? The wedding wasn’t great, but the reception was amazing.” Comedian Bill Murray.
  • “The Californian drought is so bad, people are asking God to turn wine into water.” Comedian/presenter Conan O’Brien.
  • “How much did it cost the pirate to get his ear pierced? A buck-an-ear.” Anon.
  • “How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it.” Anon.
  • And the winning submission from Rabbi Alper: “My wife and I have been married for 46 years and our lives are totally in-synch. For example, at the same time I got a hearing aid, she stopped mumbling.”

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Scroll To Top