Turning up noses: Food Snobbery

Make no mistake, I’m not the most health conscious person around when it comes to food. I eat what I like and tend to avoid what I don’t.

But with obesity affecting more people than ever before, especially children, there are fewer and fewer reasons left to justify bad diets.

Sadly, even the most prudent of food shoppers will struggle to feed themselves and others on a budget. It’s a well-known fact that junk food costs less because it’s cheaper to produce.

Worse still, it’s that time of year where you have to pre-order a turkey just to avoid disappointment and selection boxes are stacked to high heavens.

I did cookery as part of my Transition Year programme, which was a new but enjoyable experience. If I ever felt like picking it up again, I would certainly be wary of the ‘experts’.

A traditional cookbook packed with recipes could consume a whole day if you weren’t careful, given the sheer size of some of them.

Ready, Steady, Read! Cookbooks are a useful starter guide but may have more content than needed. Photo credit: natalie's new york on Flickr.
Ready, Steady, Read! Cookbooks are a useful starter guide but may have more content than needed. Photo credit: ‘natalie’s new york’ on Flickr.

I remember when Jamie Oliver awkwardly tried to trade a can of Coke with a schoolboy for a healthy food voucher – the same Jamie Oliver who paraded festive treats on behalf of Sainsburys.

Gordon Ramsay’s foul-mouthed vision of culinary perfection could drive even the cold-blooded Vince McMahon character to tears.

Rachel Allen’s signature range at O’Briens caught my attention at the time of its launch but I cannot for the life of me describe what a ‘Croque Monsieur Provencal’ sandwich is.

The new kid on the block – Donal ‘Kitchen Hero’ Skehan could be the answer to my problems. However, just like the other celebrity chefs, he makes a living out of his talent and has made wise investments in cooking equipment and work stations. How can full-time college students like me possibly compete?

Speaking of competing, the biggest culprit of food snobbery is without doubt, MasterChef. Normally, I would lap up a spot of competition, but it is most depressing and counter-productive to have a TV show put a plethora of hopeful cooks against each other and have their efforts judged one by one. You could easily have a World Cup of MasterChefs given how many versions there are.

As mentioned before, I’m not the healthiest eater in the world, but I’m just grateful to have food at all. I don’t want to take the moral high ground per se, but when I bother to take up my fair share of cooking responsibilities, I aim to serve safe food and keep people happy. I wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case in my family.

Featured image by epSos.de on Flickr

10 ways to ‘endear’ yourself to your local bar staff

Ciaran D’Arcy has a bone to pick. Read on as he outlines 10 ways to ‘endear’ yourself at your local bar.

1. Remember to order your drinks one at a time, they love running backwards and forwards as it keeps them fit.

2. When ordering a round, please make sure you don’t know what you want; barmen love to stand and wait while you shout across the room to find out.

3. Once you receive two drinks please take them back to your table and stay for a quick chat, your barman isn’t going anywhere and truly appreciates the rest.

4. Irish coffees are a perennial favourite, and please remember to order your Guinness last as there’s nothing quite like being reminded to top it up by a disgruntled customer to keep you on top of your game.

Photo by Marco83 on Flickr
Photo by Marco83 on Flickr

5. Don’t put money in their hands as they love to pick it out of puddles of beer on the bar. As for membership cards, remember to top them up in small increments so they’re short on every round and have to be topped up, there’s no rush!

6. Don’t bother with unnecessary niceties such as please and thank you, and tipping is positively discouraged.

7. Translating confusing hand signals for drinks is infinitely preferable to actually being informed of a round at the bar. Revert to smoke signals first if necessary.

8. Lip reading is a particular joy, and if you’ve picked up the barman’s name five minutes into your first visit don’t hesitate to parrot it again and again as they have notoriously poor hearing, especially when busy.

9. Always wait until you’ve been told how much your round is before asking for crisps, peanuts etc. When cheese and onion crisps are desired, ask for the full range of flavours before invariably going for the most obvious option, it helps them remember the stock.

Photo by Jen & Elwood on Flickr
Photo by Jen & Elwood on Flickr

10. If you’ve been waiting at the bar for two minutes, remind them that you’ve been waiting there for ‘half an hour’ as they have no concept of time whatsoever.

If all of these tried and trusted techniques fail to secure your status as a well-known and loved regular, then there’s always the six-pack of Linden Village in Dunnes Stores.

OPINION: Is Dublin Bus a reliable service?

According to the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) quarterly figures, less than 5% of Dublin Bus services have been more than five minutes late for scheduled departure times between January 2012 and May 2013.

On its website the NTA, which publishes performance reports on all public sector transport under its remit, officially states that “Dublin Bus are required to report quarterly on their performance” to the authority. When asked by TheCity.ie how exactly these figures are collated and whether or not the process is self-regulatory, as is indicated in the aforementioned statement, the NTA refused to comment.

So, we want to know what service users from across the capital think.

Do you believe the figures? Take part in our online interactive poll below and watch the reactions of the Dublin’s commuters as we ask them whether Dublin Bus can be relied upon to get them from A to B.

Bet fixing “happens more than it is reported”

Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the only cities that allow gambling in the U.S, which has led to a lot of corruption issues. Image by Martin Davidsson
Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the only cities that allow gambling in the U.S, which has led to a lot of corruption issues. Image by Martin Davidsson

Sport is rife with corruption and bet fixing “happens more than it is reported”. That is the opinion of Irish sports betting journalist Wayne Bailey.

Wayne, who writes a sports betting column for the Irish Independent, said that the betting industry is becoming the scapegoat for an issues that goes beyond the industry’s control.

“I think it would be easy to simply blame the betting industry, said Wayne. “It’s the criminals who carry out this type of thing and a lot of the betting firms are losing money because of it. It would be simple to say that if there was no betting on the sport, it would be corruption free but that’s not necessarily true – look at cycling for example.”

Wayne further explained how the ‘corruption’ within the industry is obviously not in its best interests and has serious financial ramifications.

“The money involved for reaching certain competitions is massive so there’s always a reason for corruption, even if you removed the betting. The betting industry doesn’t have much to gain – they can often lose large sums and their reputation gets damaged too so it’s in their interest to make sure it stops.”

Improper regulation is the problem according to Wayne.

“From what I gather, a lot of these recent cases are to do with Asian betting firms. These don’t seem to be properly regulated at all, and in countries like the U.S. betting is illegal so you have Italian Mafia running betting shops in places like New York and in Boston, Irish ‘Mafia’ types run the show.”

Wayne, who is a former editor of Betfair.com’s opinion and advice website, stressed that the the betting industry at home is ‘clean’ and one that leads the way in terms of regulation.

“In Ireland and the UK, I think that the industry has totally cleaned up its act in the last ten years. There is a paper trail and websites such as Betfair now hand over any suspicious activity to the police so it’s harder to be corrupt in this part of the world.

“When the exchanges (person to person betting as oppose to betting against a bookmaker) came about which allowed laying (backing a team or horse to lose), people said it would cause more corruption. But the ability to back a team to lose was always there – you would just back the opposition to win or draw which is effectively the same thing.

15 or 20 years ago, there was no paper trail but with the online stuff, it’s easy to trace people who are suspicious. So I’d argue that betting companies are trying their best to stop it, in this part of the world.”

Wayne, who also runs his own betting advice website, based on horseracing, believes that the corruption runs deep, and in horse racing maybe breed in the sport due to its links with the betting  world.

“I do think it happens more than it is reported. In horse racing, there is quite a bit of corruption going on although I suppose that’s to be expected as it is a sport which revolves around gambling. Other sports take place for sporting reasons but racing takes place in order for people to gamble.”

Wayne also believes that the reportage of bet fixing as “a new problem” in the media  is false and that the real losers in this is the general public.

“Corruption in racing has been going on forever and it’s been going on a long time in football too. Although he was cleared of the charges, Bruce Grobbelaar was up on charges in the 90’s for supposedly throwing Liverpool games. While the case against him fell apart, it was clear that corruption was certainly taking place in the game. It’s certainly a problem though and the real loser is the Joe Soap punter who bets on a team or horse in good faith, not knowing that they don’t have a chance.”

Cosmetic surgery to continue to be unregulated into the new year

Ireland is unlikely to have statutory regulations on cosmetic procedures in place by the end of the year, despite the Department of Health identifying cosmetic surgery as “one of their priority areas”.

Although earlier reports stated that the Department of Health aimed to have legislative proposals ready for the Health Minister’s consideration by the end of the year, a representative of the Department avoided giving a specific answer when questioned by thecity.ie, saying it “should be finalised in the near future”.

President of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons, Patricia Eadie, who has been campaigning for regulation of cosmetic procedures for nearly a decade explained what the cosmetic industry is lacking is “safe treatment of patients, done by fully qualified surgeons who are on the Specialist Register of the Irish Medical Council in appropriate facilities”.

Eadie said “I can remember giving a presentation [petitioning for regulation] to the Minister for Health Mary Harney 7 or 8 years ago, and many more senior colleagues were campaigning before me.

“To enact legislation in this country is often a long, drawn out process and unless there is a ‘crisis’ or specific champion for a cause, then a lot seems to get put on a long finger.”

The dangers of cosmetic surgery came to the forefront of media attention recently when an estimated 1,900 Irish women were given breast implants manufactured by the French company Poly Implant Prothese which were filled with non-medical grade silicone that were unfit for human use.

According to the Irish Medical Times, over 200 (11%) of Irish women who received PIP implants reported rupturing. The abnormally high rupture rates resulted in anxiety and panic from many of the Irish patients who received implants.

South-Dublin based GP Elva Dalton commented on the current situation regarding the cosmetic industry:

“There are a number of issues with the cosmetic industry at the moment. First of all any doctor can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon without formal qualifications, training or experience. Likewise, anyone can open a cosmetic clinic as there are no standards to be adhered to on the facilities and substances used”, she said.

“Another concern is that cosmetic surgery is unnecessary surgery. Usually when a patient undergoes invasive surgery they are referred to a surgeon by their doctor but the nature of the cosmetics industry means that consumers pick their own surgeons through word of mouth or a glossy unrealistic advertisement.”

Mournful locals speak of hero Mandela’s death

There were fears that Mandela’s passing on December 5th would send his homeland spiralling into violence and civil unrest, but so far all that has swept the nation is a hushed and mournful stillness, according to an Irish man working in the East Cape of South Africa.

Joe Dalton who works on a wind farm on Jefferys Bay said “I was on site late on Thursday night overseeing a project when his death was announced on the radio. The minute the news broke, work stopped. Everyone was upset and the wind turbines haven’t been running since.

South African flag waving and turbines stopped for Mandela at Jefferys Bay wind farm
South African flag waving and turbines stopped for Mandela at Jefferys Bay wind farm

“Although he was very sick and it was his time to go, the country is in total shock right now. Jefferys Bay is quiet at the moment since loads of people are leaving to pay respects at Madiba’s hometown in Qunu and the prison he spent many years in at Robben Island. An official week of mourning is to start on Monday though.

“There have been a lot of big figures on the news urging the people here to respect Mandela’s legacy by continuing to live in peace and harmony including F. W De Clerk [South Africa’s last white president and a huge anti-apartheid figure] and Archbishop Tutu was on too,” he said.

Native South African Jabquea Kgabu said “to hear of Madiba dying was a really sad story because he was one of the biggest heroes of our country.”

A Jefferys Bay local Divan Htander told thecity.ie “this is a very big deal for all of us in South Africa. I think it will take some time for the country to recover, maybe years. It is a confusing time for our people and the government but I do hope we will be able to live in peace.”


A memorial service will be held for the anti-apartheid hero at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday that many international figures including President Michael D Higgins is to attend and a more private funeral service will be held for him later in the week.