Mealtimes Can Be Healtimes!
Last week, I wrote I truly believe that if we can make the time to enjoy our meals with family and friends – if we can make mealtimes an oasis in the desert of an increasingly stressful life – we’ll be happier, healthier people. It may sound too obvious to say that the cooking itself is key to this, but let’s go into that a little more deeply.
Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Well
Look around the cooking shelves of any bookstore, or browse the internet, and you’ll see an endless stream of titles concentrating on quick meals, cheap meals, easy meals. If it’s true that society is dumbing down, it certainly seems like that in cooking. At one end of the scale, we’re seeing more and more exotic techniques and combinations – most of them out of range of the average cook -but at the other end, we’re being treated as though we can’t possibly spend more than ten minutes in the kitchen, and as if some of the very basic techniques are either unnecessary, pointless or too difficult for us simpletons. Even in my own soon to be published book, Linda Andreotti’s Galley, I’ve found myself rethinking and rewriting to make the recipes and techniques as accessible as possible.
I started cooking very young, when my mother and father were separated. In the beginning, I was really more like a child, playing at it. Then I became more interested. And then I grew bored with the routine. Much later, when I met John, I began to understand and appreciate more about food. All the boys in his family were taught to cook by their very Italian Mama, just in case they didn’t marry Italian girls. When I first tasted her meals I knew, instantly, that this was food of an entirely different order, I asked her how she did it. For a long time, she would say nothing more than ‘Olive oil and garlic’ but as we got to know each other she began to teach me, and the more I learned the more I loved!
Here, I have to say that if you’re one of those people who simply loathes the kitchen, then there’s not much I can do to help; but if, despite that loathing, you have no choice other than to cook, I can tell you that most people I’ve talked to have found that if you can change your attitude to cooking and approach it positively, with curiosity, learn about taste, technique and ingredients, you might begin to change your attitude.
The truth about cooking and eating is that you only get out of it what you put into it. I can honestly say that for all the time I have put into learning, into going to culinary school, into trial and error, I have been richly rewarded way beyond that investment. The whole process has brought my family and friends more closely together – and we were pretty close in the first place!
Cooking has brought me tremendous satisfaction and a great sense of fun. I hope I can share that with you.
In Part Three, I’ll write about provisioning and ingredients.