The Taster is an alternative magazine for foodies, gourmets, armchair chefs and those who care about how food gets from farm to fork. So far as we know, we’re the only magazine of our kind helping to cheer on UK independent farmers and makers. Unlike the vast majority of other food magazines, we do not (in line with our grass-roots ethos) receive any form of corporate sponsorship or support, whether by a supermarket, food company or publishing house; we rely completely on word-of-mouth and private subscriptions. Do get a subscription, give us a Like or a Follow online, and help us to keep going and spreading the word.
I set up The Taster to offer an alternative to all the foodie mags that contain hundreds of practical recipes but not much about food history or culture. This seemed like a significant gap as, the more we know about food, the more likely we are to be confident cooks. The Taster is very keen on school cookery lessons; not as some sort of oppressive regime, but as a revival of skills that have been far too long neglected.
British food has been admired in the past, but World War II rationing had a catastrophic effect on our confidence as a cooking nation. I personally found cookery highly intimidating for years. My signature dish, until the age of 28, was Artistically Arranged Salad — hence my career choice of writing, rather than (as it might have been, in a parallel life) cooking.
Eventually, upon the insistence of an appalled boyfriend, I attempted a dish of lemon pasta. It only had three ingredients – linguine, lemon and cream – but I put up a fight, because the very idea of following a recipe seemed so oppressive. Astonishingly (to me), it came out edible, and hordes of professional chefs failed to turn up laughing and pointing. Since then, I have become a good cook. The Taster is my way of saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”
There is another mission. Our main aim is to support organic or low-intervention food; small independent food producers and sellers; farm animal welfare; and fair trade. The first three things often go together, so it’s not as demanding a list as it might look. The Taster freely promotes and supports local veg box companies, food & drink festivals and fairs (which typically feature artisan and independent food companies), streetfood groups, and charities such as the Fairtrade Foundation and the Marine Conservation Society.
However you cook, whatever you cook, we’re really chuffed to help readers find decent ingredients that taste great, and also to support the brilliant new independent food producers in the UK. A lot of us Brits are a bit puritanical about food – we are, famously, less likely to splash out on premium ingredients than any other European nation. But the thing is, buying decent, homegrown or homemade food, is *not* an indulgence – it’s doing something positive to help independent farmers and producers, and keep our food culture alive. I hope you enjoy our writings, and your own cookings, equally.
*** If you are part of an artisan/handmade/ethical/Fairtrade/mindful/foraging/etc group and would like to be featured in The Taster, get in touch here; we’ll be very happy to hear from you.