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Eating in

Vegan cheese is not to be sniffed at

A vegan cheese revolution is under way, writes Tejal Rao in The New York Times. Today’s plant-based offerings are “nothing like the disappointing, often repulsive, starchy goop that I remember from the early 2000s”. The vegan cheese industry has boomed in the past few years, with US sales up 18% in 2019, and the global market is expected to nearly triple in value to $7bn by 2030.

Vegan cheeses are now produced “in roughly the same way as dairy cheeses”, which explains why they’re tastier than ever before. Cheesemakers allow cultured, plant-based milks to develop texture and flavour through fermentation rather than additives. While the preservation of dairy is an ancient practice – versions of brine-cured feta existed in Central Asia and the Middle East 5,000 years ago – vegan cheeses are young, highly experimental and “evolving rapidly year over year”.

The paella robot is causing a stir

Cooking paella is notoriously arduous, says Sam Jones in The Guardian. The real purists spend hours carefully stirring their rice and stock. Now the world’s first robot paellero can do the job instead. Simply switch it on, add your ingredients and leave the mechanical arm to work its magic.

Spanish chefs needn’t worry about having their jobs pinched. The robot’s creator, Enrique Lillo, insists it is simply a matter of convenience. “At the end of the day, it’s an assistant,” he says – just like orange juicers or coffee machines. “No one looks at those and goes: ‘Crikey! It’s stealing jobs from people!’ No. It’s elevating human capacity.”

Ingredient of the week: fresh peas 

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“With the arrival of spring, fresh peas are available in abundance,” says Aaron Hutcherson in The Washington Post. While frozen peas are brilliant in soups, pasta or as a side topped with butter and salt, “freshly picked peas from one’s garden or the farmers’ market are non plus ultra”. That said, “their sweetness starts to fade as soon as they’re picked”, so eat them quickly. When buying, “reach for firmer green pods, keeping in mind that smaller peas are sweeter and more tender than larger ones”.