Food and Community
I spend a lot of time thinking about and working with food, but what does it really mean to me?
We just had a long weekend here in Sydney; a wonderful opportunity to take some time to look after yourself, rest, recuperate, but also a chance to socialise, engage with people and have some fun! It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m still on a bit of a high after hosting a dinner party over the weekend, something I so love doing. It prompted me to think about the way I eat and how much joy I get from looking after myself: eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest. I really am a better version of myself when I have taken the time to do these things and have the energy to spend time with people, I of course don’t always maintain it, which is fine, life happens, things get in the way. But, I thought back over the times when I have felt an even more immense joy surrounding food and each of those times has been when I have cooked for or eaten with people. Some of my best ‘food’ memories are family dinners, events I’ve helped cater or dinner parties I’ve hosted for friends.
Many of my ideas about food are formed through reading I do, one of my favourite people to read/watch/listen to in the food realm is Michael Pollan; a Professor of science and environmental journalism at UC Berkeley. I love the way he thinks about food, culture and cooking. He has written books such as ‘the omnivores dilemma’, which I am reading currently; it’s an eye-opening book, well worth the read. I’m also working my way through a series he has released on Netflix called ‘Cooked’. The second episode begins with Michael talking about what cooking means to him. He says;
“…For me, that’s what cooking represents – to gather together and to harmonise, but nowadays cooking is optional, it’s not just given that we would cook and it was for most people, for most of history, it was just given that you have to cook if you wanted to eat. Cultures that once held tight to their way of eating are finding it difficult to spend time in the kitchen, how did we get to this point? And what have we lost in the process?” Throughout the entire episode, Michael poses some interesting questions that perhaps we should think about before doing our grocery shopping.
There’s something so special and satisfying about making a whole meal from scratch, and something even more special about sharing it with people, and then there are also the health benefits! If you get one thing out of this, can I encourage you to go back to the kitchen, to follow a recipe, make something from scratch, from unprocessed ingredients and share it with people you care about.
In our house, especially over the cooler months, we often have a curry cooking on the stove – it’s a very practical dish, cheap to make, feeds many and is a great winter warmer for those colder evenings, not to mention the rich aroma that draws everyone into the kitchen. It also freezes well, for those days when you just want to heat something up and curl into bed with a movie - not so social, but is sometimes some much needed R & R.
Here’s some inspiration, my latest recipe up on the website is a really simple coconut quinoa curry (you don’t have to use quinoa, rice works just fine). Maybe you could invite someone over and catch up over some curry, or curl up and watch Netflix, maybe even Michael Pollan’s series ‘cooked’ ;)