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Tag: coffee

Put the kettle on!

Sunday, 11 June, 2017 0 Comments

Drinking coffee and tea might offer us a vital life-saving benefit: protection from liver disease. A new study out of the Netherlands shows frequent coffee and even a small amount of tea can protect against liver fibrosis, part of the process of liver disease. The study’s lead author was Louise J. M. Alferink of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and the results were published in the Journal of Hepatology. The Dutch studied some 2,500 people, tracking their coffee and tea consumption as well as liver stiffness, which measures liver fibrosis. Lots of coffee and just a cuppa “were significantly associated with lower liver stiffness values.”

John Agard was born in June 1949 in British Guiana and now lives in Britain. In 2012, he was selected for the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. The Kettle is quintessentially British and it contains a great deal of Agardian wisdom that Theresa May might benefit from now, in her hour of need. “It’s not whether you lose / It not whether you win / It’s whether or not you’ve plugged the kettle in.”

The Kettle

Put the kettle on.
Put the kettle on.
It is the British answer
to Armageddon.
Never mind the taxes rise,
never mind trains are late.
There’s one thing you can be sure of
and that’s the kettle mate!
It’s not whether you lose,
It not whether you win,
It’s whether or not you’ve
plugged the kettle in.
May the kettle ever hiss,
may the kettle ever steam,
it is the engine that drives our nations dream.
Long live the kettle
that rules over us.
May it be lime scale free
and may it never rust.
Sing it on the beaches,
sing it from the house tops;
the sun may set on empire
but the kettle never stops.

John Agard


Food for poetry

Sunday, 16 August, 2015 0 Comments

In Irish, the word “Ballymaloe” means “the townland of sweet honey”, from baile (town), lua (sweet) and meal (honey). Ballymaloe is located in Shanagarry, which means “old garden”, and Ballymaloe Cookery School is set in 10 acres of organic gardens, which are surrounded by 100 acres of East Cork farmland. The school is the generous sponsor of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, in association with The Moth magazine, and there’s a total of €13,000 in the pot.

The American poet Elizabeth Bishop was an accomplished cook and here she creates food for thought with the repetition of the words crumb and coffee. The coffee turns from a drop to a cup into gallons, while the crumb evolves into a roll, a buttered loaf and finally “my mansion, made for me by a miracle.” It should be noted that she wrote the poem during the Great Depression when she saw the jobless lining up for coffee and bread. They were dependent on the charity and goodwill of the “man on the balcony”, who represents the elites and the bureaucrats, who never hunger or thirst. The miracle Elizabeth Bishop’s masses hope for alludes to the Biblical story in which Jesus fed 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.

A Miracle For Breakfast

At six o’clock we were waiting for coffee,
waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb
that was going to be served from a certain balcony
— like kings of old, or like a miracle.
It was still dark. One foot of the sun
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river.
It was so cold we hoped that the coffee
would be very hot, seeing that the sun
was not going to warm us; and that the crumb
would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle.
At seven a man stepped out on the balcony.

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony
looking over our heads toward the river.
A servant handed him the makings of a miracle,
consisting of one lone cup of coffee
and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb,
his head, so to speak, in the clouds — along with the sun.

Was the man crazy? What under the sun
was he trying to do, up there on his balcony!
Each man received one rather hard crumb,
which some flicked scornfully into the river,
and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee.
Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle.

I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle.
A beautiful villa stood in the sun
and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee.
In front, a baroque white plaster balcony
added by birds, who nest along the river,
— I saw it with one eye close to the crumb–

and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb
my mansion, made for me by a miracle,
through ages, by insects, birds, and the river
working the stone. Every day, in the sun,
at breakfast time I sit on my balcony
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee.

We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee.
A window across the river caught the sun
as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony.

Elizabeth Bishop


Coffee: Is there anything it can’t do?

Friday, 28 March, 2014 0 Comments

Note: CVD stands for Cardiovascular Disease. “Moderate coffee consumption was inversely significantly associated with CVD risk, with the lowest CVD risk at 3 to 5 cups per day, and heavy coffee consumption was not associated with elevated CVD risk.” That’s the conclusion of a paper titled “Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease,” which appears in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

And there’s more good news in the specialist publications. Take the current issue of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, for example. It contains a letter by R. Cardin, M. Piciocchi and F. Farinati on the matter of “coffee and chronic liver damage.” Conclusion? “In summary, coffee appears to be protective in liver damage progression, irrespective of the aetiology. Its use should be recommended and the mechanisms and compounds involved further investigated.”

espresso This comes on the heels of an article in the New Scientist by Simon Malkin titled “Drink two espressos to enhance long-term memory.” And that ties in neatly with the following: “In a 2012 experiment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, mice were briefly starved of oxygen, causing them to lose the ability to form memories. Half of the mice received a dose of caffeine that was the equivalent of several cups of coffee. After they were reoxygenated, the caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33 percent faster than the uncaffeinated.”

That’s from “This Is Your Brain on Coffee” by Gretchen Reynolds, which appeared last June in the New York Times. Snippet: “In one large-scale epidemiological study from last year, researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study.”

Is there anything it can’t do?


The Daily Mail does not cause or prevent cancer

Thursday, 9 January, 2014 0 Comments

Cabbage prevents cancer, but cakes cause cancer. And are you aware that vitamins both cause and prevent cancer? Well, that’s what the Daily Mail says, and Paul Battley has now taken on the task of trying to make sense of the paper’s unending effort to classify cancer-causing/preventing stuff with Kill or cure? It was Ben Goldacre who inspired him to undertake this vital public service when he informed us seven years ago that, “The Daily Mail, as you know, is engaged in a philosophical project of mythic proportions: for many years now it has diligently been sifting through all the inanimate objects in the world, soberly dividing them into the ones which either cause — or cure — cancer.”

Kill or sure?

With tongue in cheek, Battley says that, “In order to make sense of this vast resource of clinical information, I’ve scraped the Daily Mail website for articles mentioning cancer.” The results are, er, enlightening. As we can see, many things cause cancer and many others prevent it. In some cases, they do both. Well, according to the Daily Mail.

Daily Mail cancer


How the Mad Men marketed coffee

Wednesday, 15 August, 2012

Produced by Vision Associates in 1961 as a promotional film for the Coffee Brewing Institute, This is Coffee has been placed in the public domain thanks to the Prelinger Archives. Coffee, is there anything it cannot do? Study: Coffee Lowers Colon Cancer Risk. And there’s this: Coffee Cuts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk. Drink lots today!

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