Food and I
Food has constantly played a key role in my life. Not always in a pleasant way. I was a baby in the sixties, when the expression “she’s a bonny baby” was common, and a positive comment.
What´s that stuff?
Although my mother was very fashion conscious, she once said, clothes were more important to her than food. Good Food was at least the second most important thing in her life. She loved to cook and entertain, and followed all the trends in this field, too.
I was a very picky child and used to sitting at the table for hours, not wanting to eat my salad or vegetables. In primary school we were lucky enough to have school dinners. I remember saying once to the dinner lady, who was very disconcerted, “What´s that stuff?” Things like chocolate sponge with chocolate custard were typical favourites. Recipe However, I admittedly did not have the reverence for food and what goes into making it, that I do today.
Mum´s culinary geography
My mother grew up on the Andaman Islands, and in Mainland India, and was very much influenced by this culinary geography. She was by all means an accomplished cook. This was the time, when English food often maintained a markedly unsavoury reputation. Vegetables cooked beyond recognition with no seasoning were quite common. However, she did have the tendency to put Indian spices where they didn’t belong. You might call that cross over cooking today. Then, it sometimes seemed more like a “hostile takeover”. I remember my mum standing in the kitchen all day, cooking Indian curries from scratch, making chapatis, raita and chutney. Then the guests sitting around the table in the evening happily crying, because the vindaloo curry was so hot. It took me a while to grasp why they were crying and yet kept on eating.
Not just one apple a day
I experienced some funny, odd and trying (not just for me) phases. At the age of about fifteen, I would purchase a pound of apples every day and munch them with a packet of Scottish oatcakes. That was my food for the day. At sixteen I suffered from anorexia. I sat for my O-levels wearing three jumpers in summer. This later developed into bulimia. I have probably had gluten and milk protein intolerance all my life. The bulimia stopped when I became pregnant and I realized I was responsible for another life inside me. Whilst I had anorexia, I would cook extravagant meals for other people, not only was I chastising myself but “fattening up” others at the same time.
When I was at college, I would cook three course meals at home, and then take them on the train to my friends. My strawberry gateaux were very much in demand.
Food can bring people together
My mother never instructed me how to cook. She had never been taught either. When she first got married, she literally couldn´t boil an egg. Nevertheless, I think I inherited the passionate interest for food from her, and the genuine feeling that food can bring people together.
Come round for dinner!
Her way of making things right was often in giving people food. If there was a problem to be resolved: Invite those concerned around to dinner; if you have to say sorry: Invite the person to dinner; if you want to get to know someone: Invite them to dinner.
The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you´ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.
Why should we cook?
Is it really true that we have no time or have our priorities just changed? We certainly didn´t spend as much time watching television, streaming, or eating out, as we do today. I know there wasn´t such a variety of distractions or culinary quick fixes, but are we bound to sucumb to them?
I remember helping to make biscuits as a child, pastry stuck everywhere, flour all up my arms. Sitting in front of the oven, watching them turn golden, and smelling the glorious smell of freshly baked biscuits. Then tasting the first one – I couldn´t wait until they had cooled down. There is always and element of this when you cook and you appreciate your food more I think.
Easy Recipe Directions
Recipe books and then cookery shows have been around for a long time. Today, there are also blogs (!), apps, videos etc. So much inspiration to chose from.
You know what´s on your plate
Cooking yourself and eating in is not only more economical that going out but also, you know where the food comes from, and what equipment you are using, and everything that goes in. And it also means you can leave a lot of unnecessary things out.
When you cook yourself from scratch you can simplify your life and unburden your weekly budget. Enjoying some locally sourced, in season vegetables with butter or oil, is a simple pleasure. In a convenience package, you would find far more than these two ingreadients. Peeling or cutting and cooking doesn´t take much longer than opening the package and cooking. Not to mention the carbon footprint. Also, I find peeling potatoes quite meditative.
Although there is so much on offer today when you are out grazing, you tend to often go for the same things. When you cook yourself, you can try out so many variations – different sauces, different herbs and spices, different cuts of meat or all sorts of alternatives to meat. This was also so in the past. However it was not so much a variety of choice but a dictation of neccessity. Then and today, if you braise a cheap cut of meat for long enough you can turn it into many different delicious dishes.