Like many others I have been horrified by the fires that have raging in the Amazon rainforest and utterly appalled by the deliberate inaction of the Brazilian government under President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro, a populist neo fascist, came to power in January this year. Backed heavily by agribusiness and the mining industry, he has already gained the nicknames “Captain Chainsaw” and “Trump of the Tropics”.
Like Trump, one of the first things Bolsonaro did when he took office was to begin dismantling the country’s environmental protection agencies. Where previously illegal logging would have been subject to heavy fines, now the Brazilian government regularly turns a blind eye. This is Bolsonaro paying back his wealthy backers.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world, absorbing around a twentieth of all global carbon emissions. These fires are not only reducing the forest’s capacity to absorb carbon but are now also releasing carbon back into the atmosphere.
Beyond the cynically corrupt Bolsonaro, the single biggest factor in Amazonian rainforest destruction is the beef industry. Previous illegal land clearances in Brazil have resulted in those cleared areas becoming grazing land or land for growing soy, which is then fed to cattle.
Cattle are very big business in Brazil: the country is the world’s largest exporter of beef.
Thus it is that our seemingly insatiable appetite for the beefburger is inextricably linked to the destruction of one of the world’s most precious and iconic natural resources.
On to the recipe. This is a particularly delicious way to enjoy red pepper. I sometimes serve this as a vegetarian tapas dish, along with my aubergine with pomegranate molasses and rocket, crispy shallot and Parmesan salad.
roast red pepper with garlic and basil
6 red peppers
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
15 g basil leaves, choped
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Place the red peppers in a roasting tray and place in the oven to cook for 45 minutes, or until they are very soft, collapsed and beginning to catch. During the cooking time, shake the tray a few times to ensure even cooking and prevent the peppers from sticking to the tray.
2. Carefully tip the roasted peppers into a large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to cool for 20 minutes. Carefully peel of the skin on the peppers. Avoid the temptation to rung them under cold water as this will detract from the flavour.
3. Halve the peeled peppers and remove the seeds. Chop the pepper flesh into strips and place into a bowl. Add the garlic, basil and olive oil. Mix to combine. Leave for at least an hour, preferable longer, so that the flavours infuse.