27th November 2015
Too many people undervalue what they are, and overvalue what they're not.
On Wednesday Jeremy Vine had chef, writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on his show in his "What Makes Us Human" series. I loved it so much, I've listened to it again and typed it up to share with you, today I think he says so beautifully everything that needs to be said;
Nothing makes us human more than cooking, the act of turning raw ingredients into something delicious or at least more delicious than the ingredients on their own. Arguably this is a scientific truth, it's now widely recognised that the application of fire to fish, meat and vegetables, by making food more digestible and its nutrients more available has played a vital role in the evolution of our brains and our intelligence. But just as importantly, it's a cultural truth and a profound one. All living creatures eat of course, but humanity is alone in making the act of eating about than far more than essential nutrition for survival and I'd argue that we need it to be about more than that. Food is at the heart of families and friendship. It's a vital shared experience that bonds human beings together playing a part in all the most important moments of our lives - births, marriages and deaths. One of the most memorable meals of my life was the one I knocked together at two in the morning for my wife and the midwife who'd just delivered our first child at home, sausages with creamed spinach, not a combination I'd put together before or since but somehow just right for that amazing moment. Most of us still choice to mark those moments of high family emotions with the sharing of great food, often very specific dishes carefully selected to suit the occasion, to continue a tradition or to honour a person. In our family the birthday boy or girl is always allowed to choose the menu for their birthday tea or supper. Chloe will have fried plantains, Oscar a fish if he can catch one, Freddie his beloved lasagne and if Louisa wants sausages and mash with unlimited ketchup followed by ice cream, well she can have that too. One these occasions food is no less an expression of love, than a hug, a kiss or a cuddle. And great meals don't just take place on milestone birthdays and festive holidays either. The best kind of contact with the most special kind of food can be informal, the Sunday lunch when the kids who've flown the nest, turn up in the hope of a hearty roast. The cake baked in a bit of a rush when a friend says they're going to drop by. Sometimes however, it seems to me that we're in danger of losing this relationship with food that's so fundamental to our nature. Many of us are moving away from a sense of occasion around food as we navigate through our busy days via takeaway coffees, desk bound sandwiches and microwave ready meals, simply fuelling up whilst on the go, gratifying only our immediate appetite. At the same time some of us obsess over food, employing it as a badge of identify, looking to it as the answer to all our problems, investing it with transformative powers that are just now realistic! We ask food to paper over the cracks in our lives, or to fill a void that we're too frightened to confront. You might argue that this imbalance is part of what makes us human too, whether by losing touch with something that is such a simple source of health and happiness or by freighting it with too much angst and anxiety. We humans are quite good at messing ourselves up around food, fortunately we're also pretty good at learning, growing, trying something new, making amends. I'd like everybody to discover or rediscover the simple but profound satisfaction of putting together an uncomplicated but tasty meal and sharing it with somebody they care about. So if it's a while since you've made time to cook, don't be daunted by the prospect, pull out a few of the cookbooks gathering dust on your shelf or get online and browse until you find something that looks delicious and achievable. Then send a text to a friend, a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, someone who's happiness makes you happy too, it only takes five words - "fancy popping round for supper?"
Happy Friday BeYOUtiful, I'm off for lunch with a friend, but I'll be 'cooking' a new recipe this weekend for sure and sharing it with the one person I love the most on this entire planet.