Sunday, 22 August 2010

This is NOT a TV show script

There is a problem currently exercising the minds of countless officials of the European Union. They are trying to decide when a swede is not a swede but a turnip and, conversely, when a turnip is a swede. Please note: 'swede' is spelt with a lower case 's' and does not refer to a national from that Scandinavian country next door to Norway. It all started, as so many things like this seem to do, with the French. Their wines have long been subject to appellation controllée which defines exactly where the grapes for the wine were grown. (They later spread this scheme to cover cheese and, for all I know, it might now cover olive oil as well.) The original reason for this was to protect their farmers and to prevent people from other areas or, worse, other countries from using names such as Champagne when what they were really describing was a sparkling wine produced in the Champagne style. Needless to say, the Brussels bureaucrats soon jumped on this idea as a way of expanding their own little (only now it's not so little) empire.

The first foodstuff from England to be given this sort of protection was Stilton cheese, which has to be made from milk from cows in a small area of, I think, Cambridgeshire. Then came the humble pork pie. But this is not your everyday supermarket pork pie - this is the Melton Mowbray pork pie, made in (or near to) the Leicestershire town of that name to a particular recipe. There have been calls for Cheddar cheese to be similarly protected but I don't think those calls have been successful - at last, not yet.

So, back to the original problem. When is a swede a turnip and when is a turnip a swede? For the uninitiated, both are root vegetables but a turnip is white with an earthy flavour while a swede is usually larger, yellow and with a sweeter taste. But in the south-western English county of Cornwall, the swede is known as a turnip. Now, as many people know, a traditional Cornish food is the Cornish pasty. This delicacy is currently being considered by the European Union for appellation controllée-style protection, and this is where the problem arises. The traditional recipe uses swede in the filling, but to a true Cornishman, it's turnip. So the bureaucrats have to decide just what ingredients go into a Cornish pasty - and what should be listed on the packaging. Does it include swede or turnip? If the bureaucrats decide on swede because that is what most people call the vegetable, the Cornish will say it's not the proper recipe, but if the decision is to call the vegetable turnip, people outside Cornwall will expect something different.

Solomon, would that you were living at this hour!


Uncle Skip, said...

I think I've figured out that politicians (and bureaucrats, too) don't think or operate like real people. If an emergency doesn't exist, they have to create one. If nothing needs to be done, they'll find something.

Brighton Pensioner said...

I often think that life would be so much simpler without them. Or maybe it would merely descend into anarchy.