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Smoking food is so hot right now.

And judging from the gorgeous lamb chop on my plate, which has been browned off in a frypan then put into a cabinet hot smoker, it's a revelation that smoking food isn't as common as salt and pepper. As well as the flavour of the meat - its glorious caramelised outside and soft tender inside - there's the intense flavours of the smoke that stays in the mouth well after the dishes have been done.

Our ancestors have been doing it for aeons. Whoever discovered fire, and discovered meat was much easier to eat and preserve if cooked on said fire, must have also discovered that the smoke flavouring the meat makes it incredibly delicious. As I bite into my chop, I'm reminded of barbecues, of the carefree nature of summer, and something primeval in me that loves the smell of fires, and the taste of it too.

Further down the line, smoking was a way of preserving food - combined with salting or brining. Says Ian Hornblow who teaches workshops in food smokery: "Curing and smoking are incredibly old techniques. Especially with cod, there's that story of cod and how it was the fish that discovered the world, because it gave seaman protein much further into their voyages."

Cold smoking and hot smoking are two ways to infuse food with that luscious smokey flavour.... read more


Culinary capers

Ian Hornblow’s family was the first in Wellington to sell fresh bread on a Sunday – his car windscreen would steam up during early-morning deliveries. “I used to drive my Holden down the hill with my head out the window and see a whole queue of people waiting. It was a four-minute trip up the street and back for fresh loaves. You’d cut the top off and smother it with butter and Marmite and it would still be steaming.” The culture of food is something he’s always relished. His family ran adjoining stores Hornblow’s Food Market and Hornblow’s Dairy in Newtown for 45 years. “Newtown was a total melting pot where cultures collided,” Ian remembers of his childhood. “Next door was Kim Young, the fruiterer. The Island Bay fisheries were just down the road. There was a really cool Asian restaurant across the street...”