Wednesday. 4/12/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

Gastronomy begins at home

Last week a friend who recently moved to Copenhagen told me that he doesn’t think there’s a particularly good food culture in the Danish capital. I was shocked. What about Noma, foraging, smørrebrød and all the brilliant bakeries? Yes, he conceded, you can go out and eat very well but there’s a dearth of good supermarkets or corner shops stocked with quality produce – so it’s tough to feel inspired when it comes to cooking at home. Despite the relatively recent Nordic food revolution led by René Redzepi (who founded Noma in 2003), it seems that the culture of eating well is still working its way down to grassroots cooking in Copenhagen.

When we think of a “foodie city”, it tends to be a place with an abundance of glamorous restaurants and slick cafés. But what about the other aspect of eating – the part that pays less attention to Michelin stars and more to what is being cooked inside homes? By this metric any Italian city excels, as do many in France. Australia does pretty well too. But how does a place become a hub for stellar home cooking? Perhaps a series of accessible cookbooks that go viral would offer a spark. However, as I’m sure any good cook would tell you (and I say this as someone who’s anything but), it has to start with inspiring ingredients and good local markets. A great supermarket chain focused on fresh produce can do wonders. I’m working on my new business pitch – and planning a move to Denmark.

Politics / New Zealand

The buck stops here

It seems that even far-flung nations with robust democracies can fall victim to foreign interference in their politics. This was the case in New Zealand during its 2017 general election, when the National party received NZ$150,000 (€90,000) from Chinese horse-racing billionaire Lang Lin; the donation was funnelled through a local “horse industry” group in an attempt to avoid suspicion. Lin’s motivation was reportedly to help the MP Todd McClay, who he had met at a G20 summit in Beijing. To avoid a repeat, the Kiwi government is taking precautionary measures ahead of next year’s poll by capping all foreign donations at NZ$50 (€30). Whether the new rules succeed in plugging all the loopholes remains to be seen. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who is seeking a second term, has a well-established liberal-leaning global profile – toppling her could be a goal for domestic opposition groups and foreign influencers alike.

Media / UK

Set for expansion

Don’t tell Sky that the uncertainties of Brexit are stopping companies from investing in the UK. The media giant yesterday announced plans for a massive new TV and film-production facility just north of London at Elstree – already home to a famous independent studio of the same name. The 13-hectare site, complete with 14 soundstages, will be on a par with the UK’s largest two existing studios, Pinewood and Shepperton, and will create more than 2,000 jobs.

The UK’s creative industry is growing at twice the rate of the country’s economy as a whole (according to Legal & General Group, one of the project’s financial partners). As streaming services pour money into original productions, Sky’s move shows that demand for on-the-ground facilities is likely to grow in the coming years.

Transport / New York

Chain reaction

Can a city benefit from having a dedicated mayor for cyclists or pedestrians? Two New York city council members seem to think so: they have recently introduced legislation to create an Office of Active Transportation and an Office of Pedestrians at City Hall. The goal is to accelerate efforts to improve safety on the streets; an issue of increased importance following the deaths of 28 cyclists so far this year, which mayor Bill de Blasio declared “an emergency”. Other cities, including Mumbai, Amsterdam, Istanbul and São Paulo, have already created the post of bicycle mayor so it only makes sense that the most populous US city would consider joining the list. The first order of business should be to learn from the successful car restrictions on Manhattan’s 14th Street and implement similar projects elsewhere, as well as investing in protected cycle lanes on the Big Apple’s busy streets.

Education / Canada

Degrees below freezing

Canada has announced plans to finally launch a university in the Arctic – the first dedicated to serving the country’s northern reaches. Yukon, the smallest of the three northern territories, has passed a bill to transform Whitehorse’s Yukon College into Yukon University – and a planned expansion includes the creation of leading science facilities. Once realised, the university’s focus will include climate change, sustainable-resource development and Indigenous governance – issues relevant to the north but also gaining increased prominence across Canada.

The move will also improve access to education in the north as residents will be able to study towards degrees closer to home. First Nations here have long called for a northern university and, although it will be years before the expansion is complete, the plans are an important step in bringing this northern territory in from the cold.

M24 / Monocle on Culture

Los Angeles special

This special edition of the programme is hosted by Monocle’s Carlota Rebelo in Los Angeles. She reports on what defines the Southern California aesthetic, a new streetlight competition and textiles from BlockShop.

Film / Affairs

Why start-ups thrive in Canada

We visit an emerging roster of budding businesses in Montréal. Canada's innovations minister Navdeep Bains reveals how the country is capitalising on the US's restrictive visa policies.

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