Everybody is talking about food. Celebrity chiefs and cooking programs are bigger than ever. The shops are full of cooking books and a bigger and better variety of food than ever before. The cooking habits and the diet of the young people I meet is worse than ever.
Ignore all that for a minute go back to basics, back to the beginning. When I sit down and look at the food lumped on the plate in front of me I may be thinking about many different things; about work or what's on TV or I may even be thinking about the food. If I'm thinking of food I'm thinking about…… the back garden.
Food should tastes nice. I want the ingredients to taste good separately and in combination. Consider the textures, contrasts, smell and presentation.
Food grown and cooked yourself is normally tastier because it's fresher. Fresh broad beans, figs or tomatoes cannot be bought. A lot of bought food has to be picked half ripe because of the time involved in transport and because ripe food is often soft, bruises and spoils quicker. Homegrown food is normally tastier because you can select tastier varieties. You can go by different criteria from that of the supermarkets or farmers. You don't need to select varieties that transport or store well.
Food should be healthy. It should be full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; high in fibre and low in fat or sugar. Food should be free of harmful bacteria, toxins or poisons.
Backyard food is normally healthier. In many cases the food deteriorates in nutritional value from the moment it is picked. If the bought food is stale and lacking in taste you need to add flavour; this often increases the fat or calorific content of the food. It makes the food unhealthier. Adding extra ingredients to the food also decreases the ease of cooking and increases the cost. A lot of bought food is over-processed with many added ingredients that do nothing to improve the nutritional value of the food.
Backyard food can also be grown free of chemical sprays.
Food should be easy to prepare or cook. Simple easily learned techniques. Techniques that can be applied to a variety of dishes. It doesn't necessarily mean things that can be cooked quickly. A simple technique often can mean the opposite: long slow cooking.
Backyard food lends itself to easy simple cooking or even no cooking at all: salads or the eating of freshly picked fruit. Restaurants lead themselves to the reverse. If you sat down in a restaurant to a dessert of a freshly picked fig cut in two you would feel cheated. No effort or preparation gone into the food. There might have been a lot of effort put into growing the food but in restaurants we only appreciate effort in the preparation of food. The more complicated and involved the recipe the better.
Backyard food is cheaper; assuming you are not counting the cost of your labour.
The emotional value of food:
Food needs to have a high emotional value. This is different for different people at different times in different cultures. Family favourites. Recipes that have been used for generations in the same family. Foods that your mother and her mother cooked.
Some foods bring back fond memories. Traditional recipes from the home country. Recipes associated with certain places or times. Unfortunately in our immigration society many people have migrated and moved from where their antecedents lived, so what may have been good local seasonal food for their parents may no longer be appropriate. There can be a conflict between traditional food and fresh, locally grown food.
For a vegetarian, vegan or anybody with religious or health constraints the emotional value of food depends on the food meeting personal rules and philosophies.
Food has a spiritual value. If you plant a seed and months later eat the fruit of your labours, it illogically tastes better. It is that indefinable extra spiritual element.
What is the emotional value of home-grown food? It is indefinable and difficult to quantify but it exists. To see the fruit develop and anticipate it's ripening; to succour and support it through climatic vicissitudes; to await the day it ripens; to anticipate and pick it. All this gives the food a value that you wouldn't get from the same food bought in a shop.
The transport and storage of bought food leads to release of greenhouse gases and global warming. Extensive monocultures lead to irrigation, weedicides, insecticide, salinity and erosion.
Home-grown food is often associated with compost which is associated with retaining household scraps and not placing them into the rubbish bin. This helps preserve depleted landfill areas.
This blog is about what goes in. Not about what comes out. A lot of the posts are about food. There are posts about the food before it goes in. About preparing it, growing it or cooking it. There will be recipes.