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Last week the Lemurs visited Thrifty Gal in South London, and went to a restaurant I’ve had my eye on in a while: Asmara in Brixton. I love East African food and I used to eat at Ethiopian restaurants in New York and – perhaps surprisingly – in Iowa City. African cuisines have been fashionable in certain upscale food circles for a while, what with the success of Marcus Samuelsson and the emergence of South African food, but most people still haven’t embraced local African restaurants in the same way that East or South Asian cuisines have been popularised. It’s a shame, as Ethiopian and Eritrean food is delicious and healthy, with lots of grains, pulses and greens and sophisticated spicing. Of course, Thifty Gal is ever leery of strange ethnic restaurants and it’s really a sign of her friendship and generosity that she comes along with me on these forays. What she wants are white tablecloths and a nice bottle of wine, but what Asmara offers seemed to me like a fair trade: half the menu is vegetarian so she got a level of choice unprecedented in non-vegetarian restaurants. Read the rest of this entry »

Ok, I know Thanksgiving was last week but look at it this way – if you’re in Canada it was last month. Being up to date is all relative. It’s been a busy old time here at Lemur HQ and I haven’t been entirely well for all of it. I’m trying to catch up and get back into the swing of things but for now I am a tad behind schedule. However, late as it is, I could not resist posting about this awesome lemur Thanksgiving at the San Francisco zoo. My lovely friend DW posted this story on my Facebook wall and it cheered up what had been an endless long and stressful day no end. It’s like they planned it just for me. Lemurs! Eating holiday food!

There are loads more photos and even (squee!) video over at Laughing Squid, as well as a link to a Flickr set that will melt your shrivelled dry heart. And now is an opportune moment to remember that lemurs are endangered by loss of forest habitat in Madagascar. There are economic and political issues behind this deforestation, which are part of larger global issues of poverty, inequality and environmental destruction. These are not so cute, but I guess if I’m being thankful over this season, I’m thankful for political activists as well as dedicated conservationists. We can keep an eye on the big picture and still find time to create an adorable Thanksgiving dinner for the lemurs.

(Photos by George Nikitin (AP) and Justin Sullivan (Getty Images), via San Francisco Zoo.)

Last weekend was Brighton’s Fiery Foods Festival, an event that you can imagine is close to my heart. I’m not really invested in the boy-boy machismo of chilli eating competitions and I could do without the live music component of the day, but I am unreasonably excited about wandering from stall to stall, buying jars of this and that spicy condiment, and grazing on hot foods from around the world.

I have to say that this year’s festival was noticably weaker on the street food front. Whereas last year I ate amazing som tam (pounded for me while I watched, with levels of each ingredient open to debate), delicious Nigerian spinach and egusi (not spicy but there was hot sauce available) and more, this year the hot food was a bit insipid. There were stalls of the kind you see at every street event – burgers, sausages and so on – that have nothing to do with fiery foods, and then horrible corporate versions of Mexican food. We did eat some lovely Thai BBQ but I worry that the economic situation is driving out the small businesses that are a huge part of this kind of event.

On the positive side, the stalls selling artisanal ingredients and condiments were a joy. It’s always lovely to meet the people who make foods and in most cases at the festival, that’s exactly who I was talking to. Enthusiastic about their products and happy to talk about suppliers, recipes and more, the makers of these products made for a food blogger’s dream day out. And, of course, these delicious products are all available to buy online. Here are my top five: Read the rest of this entry »

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