Let's talk about food. This weekend I was interviewed by the proprietor of Fur-Lined Teacup on my attitude towards food, what I cook and how food fits into today's society. It was really, really interesting and the questions made me think about my cultural background, the place food holds in my life and how we all relate to food in various ways.
Mostly we talked about the Slow Food movement which is "a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded (..) to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world." Admittedly that sounds a bit wishy-washy and über-liberal, but it applies to all of us, if you think about it. Why do we so easily succumb to the ready-made lasagna that just pops in the oven, when we could have roasted vegetables with pork chops for the same amount of money and time?
I grew up in the countryside in a family who pretty much lived off the land. I learned which plants were edible and how I could prepare them. Later my palette was shaped by friends who can only be described as "citizens of the world". They introduced me to authentic Mexican cuisine, Middle-Eastern spices and Mediterranean vegetables. Another friend taught me to use ingredients in unusual ways and how to think outside the box. And so on.
Today I live in a country which has a strange, almost schizophrenic attitude towards food: do you like your chocolate bar to be deep-fried or to be fair-traded? I find myself becoming reliant upon food items that I would not have used in Denmark (ready-made custard, anyone?) and the selection of fresh ingredients restricted compared to my local Copenhagen supermarket (I haven't seen any Jerusalem artichokes except in one very expensive deli). Here in Scotland you have a greater selection of brands rather than types of ingredients. It is all very intriguing and I still view my grocery shopping as an adventure. I celebrate finding foods I thought were no longer available to me and I like trying out traditional Scottish foods like bannocks, stovies, bridies, the ubiquitous haggis (which is really nice, by the way), various types of seafood and desserts that seem to involve massive amounts of cream. It's a wonder I haven't gained more than two dress sizes(!) while I have lived here.
What role does food play in your life, what types of food would you describe as central to you (either by association or because you enjoy it so much) and how do you do your grocery shopping? And how would you respond to the Slow Food movement?