Sunday, June 28, 2009

food from the heart

This belief seems so intrinsic to me that I hardly know what to write: love feeds us, and putting love into the preparation and cooking of our food nourishes us in a way that is greater than the nutrients of the ingredients.

Connecting with those around me I know others of like minds. Yet I am constantly surprised when observing others who dont have the same central belief: that we take on the essence of what we intake. Take in food prepared with love for a happy loving life. Take in food prepared in angst and without feeling to deliver the result of the same hurried and angry approach to the world.

This belief is one very good reason that I don't eat take away or prepared foods, and avoid those packaged foods on supermarket shelves. I like to cook from scratch and feed those close to me with not only the nutrients of the food, but to nourish them with love. A great honour, is always to be invited into someone else's home, to be allowed into their sanctuary, and to be honoured with the labour of their time and love in their cooking, and as their guest. I do very much like to eat in quality establishments, restuarants where quality produce is chosen, where food is treated with reverence, and crafted in a way that is not possible at home in my day to day cooking.

Food should be treated with respect, in not only preparation and cooking but also in the eating. This means stopping other tasks, taking time to sit with family and friends, and to eat slowly, deliberately, with recognition of the purpose.

I shake my head in dismay when I see people eating as they walk down the street, on transport, while doing other tasks, and all the time their bodies are not recognising that they are accepting food. So many challenges arise from this approach: a trilogy of health, emotional and spiritual issues.

Smell. Look. Taste. Savour. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

seasonal regional and fresh

I've always had an interest in cooking in the way that is now called Slow Food. The movement to local is again gaining popularity. It never lost momentum with me.

Flavour marriages are at a premium when you take the local produce from the same region and season; you can't go wrong! Classical food combinations are historically based on these regional and seasonal marriages. Although my reasons for cooking seasonal regional and fresh were always based on taste, there are lots of other reasons to use this base in understanding food, produce, cooking.

For a start in our industrialised, and then technology based societies, (global) transport is easier and quicker so we've come to enjoy produce from other regions at any time of year. Long distance hauls have an impact, on not only flavour, but also have a huge cost to the environment. What is the impact to our world on transporting water in a bottle up to 15,000 kilometres (or sending pears to China from Australia?) Long storage from farm to shelf for a supermarket takes on a whole new meaning past the family at home bottling of surplus home produce.

All of this is without the other considerations that go into long haul or long storage, such as irradiation, using only hybridised varieties that support transport or GM GE foods for more rescilient farm to shelf time and distance. So many questions, so much impact, when the answer (local supply chain) can be so simple!

During the week I also got to thinking about food in another way. It makes sense that nature has looked after us with seasons, and that nature also supports us with appropriate seasonal nutrition in our food that is available at different times of the year. Think for example winter at its best in citrus: lemons, oranges, mandarins (then think winter colds and flu and the vitamin C that supports us in the best of that season's produce).

Let's get back to basics. Best flavour, lowest cost, lowest impact on our world, best effect to our health is available from a simple choice: regional seasonal and fresh.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

just smiling

It comes too close to home sometimes when poor customer service affects quality time spent with family, and even more so when it disrupts the last moments we may spend with someone who is dear to our heart.

Over the last few months, I've experienced my share of some of the poorest customer service of my life, and I got to wondering, in a world of high unemployment, and with companies vying for increasing or just retaining market share how this could be so. I've changed my health insurance and my mobile phone after years of loyal patronage, in these last months, and for just these reasons.

In sharing these thoughts I've been given lots of reasons: staff implementing company policies to the letter, without allowance for initiative. I'm sorry, but it doesnt hold with me. A smile costs nothing. Surely the companies I'm talking about have not got a policy against staff smiling.

The latest incident is one which this normally half glass full person will not forget. My farewell, perhaps for life, and certainly the intention that this will be so, was unforgivingly disrupted at the international airport by totally rude and unhelpful Jetstar check-in staff. What did we do so wrong? I took my darling Natalie (sweet patient and kind, and experienced traveller of the last 5 out of 6 years) to the airport, went off to have a coffee while she checked in, and thought we'd then have time for farewells, brunch, hugs and kisses. We arrived there well before the prescribed time to allow us time to do just that; in fact we arrived at the airport three and a half hours before departure. Her paid airline ticket wasnt enough; she was not given a seat allocation. The only thing the Jetstar customer service desk would do was quote that if we purchase on online ticket we become our own travel agent and we are responsible knowing the conditions of travel. (OK so when I had calmed down slightly, and got home I checked all of those conditions online, over and over, and not one thing mentioned about the issue we had at the airport). So, we spent all the time jumping through hoops at check-in, without any concern from Jetstar, without help or advice, or one ounce of initiative to make the process easier. It could have been so much easier; it was like pulling teeth guessing the next part of the maze that we couldnt see around the corner. The final straw for me was the disdain which with we were treated, and the laugh that was given us. A great memory on a final parting, after 27 years years, to the person who has been closest in my life. I don't think so Jetstar! You are dealing with people, and at the international terminal, with people who are leaving a country, and perhaps leaving loved ones!