Well, it’s January. Or, should we call it, Repentuary- the month we repent for all of our (real or perceived) food sins of the previous weeks, months, years?
Around the world, people have turned over a new leaf. Whatever you want to call it…a regime…a cleanse…a detox…a new kick… it always goes the same way. Rid the shelves of junk and fill them with healthier alternatives. Yesterday I chucked the cheezies and added hemp hearts and organic cacao for an Avocado Chocolate Breakfast Trifle recommended by Jamie Oliver in Saturday’s Globe. Sounds like dessert to me but, hey, Jamie says it will provide a healthy start to the day. And, all you do is throw everything in a food processor!
This new hemp heart/cacao approach to eating is not to say that the cheezies won’t make another appearance in my pantry, of course. Just, not for now. We all know that most “new kicks” don’t last long and being a chef for the last thirty-odd years, I have seen lots of food trends come and go.
I teach cooking students that food is like the fashion industry. Certain foods are in style and others not. When I started cooking for a living, quiche was the new thing. Then there was a movement against the quiche. Remember the book “Real men Don’t Eat Quiche?” Once kiwis were all the rage, then kiwis were soooo yesterday. And, so it goes. But, in my early cooking days, I don’t remember there being quite the same vehemence around our food choices or what has now become the good/bad dichotomy that is such a big part of eating these days.
We are fickle. Jumping from one food trend to another. Demonizing this food and lauding the next. And the vast array of cookbooks! Who can keep track? Which one is the best? Impossible to answer, really. You have to trust the reviews or ask a friend or just take a chance and try out some of the recipes. I have my favourites and they tend to be no-nonsense guides to real food. All food.
This year, I bought myself a Christmas present from one of my favourite cookbook authors, Nigel Slater: The Kitchen Diaries volume iii: A Year of Good Eating.
Nigel Slater describes himself as a cook who writes. He doesn’t get caught up in the chef side of things. I love his writing, especially his memoir, Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger, that was also made into a wonderful movie. I love his recipes, his columns in The Observer Magazine, his cooking series for the BBC, but most of all, I love his approach to food. In Nigel’s words:
“I am concerned about the current victimisation of food. The apparent need to divide the contents of our plates into heroes and villains. The current villains are sugar and gluten, though it used to be fat, and before that it was salt ( and before that it was carbs and …oh, I’ve lost track). It is worth remembering that today’s devil will probably be tomorrow’s angel and vice versa.
We risk having the life sucked out of our eating by allowing ourselves to be shamed over our food choices. If this escalates, historians may look back on this generation as one in which society’s decision about what to eat was driven by guilt and shame rather than by good taste or pleasure.” from The Kitchen Diaries volume iii: A Year of Good Eating- by Nigel Slater
So, in this month of new beginnings and life changes, I offer you some Food for Thought with some interesting reads that may or may not fuel your current thoughts about healthy diets.
In no particular order…
- Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture And Science Clash by Timothy Caulfield
- What’s the Best Detox or Cleanse by Scott Gavura? sciencebasedpharmacy.wordress.com
- The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten by Moises Velasquez- Manoff
and, a very interesting read and the documentation of a personal journey from a young friend of mine:
- The Great Diet Deception: From Diet Rules and Illness to Instinctual Eating and Good Health by Zak Roedde
And, if you want a sensible read (after all of Nigel Slater’s books, that is) have a read of
- In Defense of Food- and eater’s manifesto by Michael Pollen Don’t have time to read? Check out the documentary
Happy New Year!
PS- the Avocado Chocolate Breakfast Trifle is, as Jamie would say, “cracking good!”