Sunday, August 8, 2010
Real Food or not?
I know I have said before (more than a couple times) that cooking has always been something I love doing. It is so relaxing even when chaos overtakes the kitchen. I know, I know, that is essentially an oxymoron. Consider this - when you cook you have to pay attention to what you are doing or it really doesn't turn out. Unless, of course, you are making fast food stuff that is heat and serve and that really isn't cooking or in truth, real food. I agree that it is simple to heat and serve but basically it is just sustenance or something to put in your gut along with all the chemicals that they need to preserve it or keep it from separating or whatever. Where is the pleasure in that? I don't mean to sound like a food snob, that is not how I mean it, I just mean that real food is just so good - good for the body and the soul as well.
I understand that there are time crunches, especially when children have events they must be at or you have a meeting to attend. However, it really is easy to develop a few "fast food" meals that can be made when you are cooking on a non-rushed day and be frozen for later consumption. They are so much more satisfying and are just as quick as going through a drive-through without all the downsides to fast food.
I admit that I do queue up to a drive-through occasionally (very occasionally) even though I know that there are alternatives that are better. I feel guilty every time I am in a line because I don't find it particularly satisfying, food-wise. I also find it hard justifying all the additional gas that is burned idling through and the cost of the products. I never feel guilty about making or eating good food that is made from scratch at home.
I laughed to myself when I heard about the slow-cooking movement. I didn't know that what I did each day had a name, I thought it was just cooking. Over the years I have taken a lot of flack for all the care and time that I put into the meals I make for my family. Quite a few individuals didn't get it or felt that it was a waste of time, that my family was spoiled. They would ask me why I bothered going to all that work when I could just as easily go down to the grocery store to pick up anything I wanted already made up. Somehow, a lot of people have lost the desire to cook real food. I know that sometimes it can be cheaper to buy a store-bought meal but in terms of your health, it really isn't cheaper.
I am pleased to see that the process of cooking is changing and becoming a pleasure once again. It really is about sharing and savouring with the added bonus of getting real nutrition from the food that I have taken time to prepare. It is not just about getting our greens and carbs and being low fat, it is about enjoying the process and benefiting from it. The nutrition part just happens when all of us cook real food and the bonus is that we really don't have to keep track of the carbs/low fat/salt etc, it just isn't all that necessary if you choose recipes that don't use a lot of processed ingredients. The best part of taking your time is how it brings everyone together to enjoy one another's company at the table.
A number of years ago, a national food chain renovated one of their local grocery stores and discontinued a lot of the ingredients I needed to make certain breads and recipes from scratch. Instead, they stocked the shelves with a lot of pre-packaged foods. I shook my head and wondered how on earth I was going to be able to cook properly without them. I was quite disappointed that they had gone this route and made it more difficult to obtain basic ingredients. I have since sourced out these ingredients but still am disappointed to see our stores going that direction.
The basics give me more enjoyment that complicated foods. One of my little pleasures is walking out into the yard, picking a nice plump raspberry and popping it into my mouth. The smell and taste of it, softly warmed by the sun, is divine. When I was a kid, my mother would haul all of us out into the bush to pick fresh, wild raspberries. I don't remember if I was a very good picker when I was a kid (most likely not) but I do know I was a good berry eater and I always appreciated the wonderful taste and smell of those berries! I didn't even realize that my mother was providing us with organic food. It was just food. Along that same thought-line - who could ever deny that a fresh, sun-ripened tomato has the most incredible flavour when it comes to making toasted tomato sandwiches? My mouth is drooling just thinking about them. Both of these are the simplest of pleasures but offer fresh, healthy, organic food loaded with taste and all those vitamins, etc so vital to good health and no chemicals!