Cultivating Culinary Passion
Yes yes, we’ve all heard the advice: ‘5 a day’, ‘balance’, ‘moderation’, ‘sometimes foods’, ‘calories’, ‘micro/macronutrients’…’scuse me, but Yaaaaaaawwwwwwwwn. You know who nutrition science is interesting to? –scientists. The rest of us tend to hold these lists of expert prescriptions in a similar way that we’d hold a dirty nappy, well away from direct sight and quickly disposed of for more appealing narratives. It’s far more pleasant to watch Nigella sashaying about in her epicurean goddessness than filling out a food diary, right?
Science has never been very good at ‘passion’ or ‘joy’. In fact, it has kinda gone out of its way to avoid such frivolity https://bit.ly/2GuSqsA. In fact, if you have a look at The Royal Society’s list of ‘language to avoid’ one thing becomes quite clear: it’s not just romance that is to be avoided, but anything that might faintly sniff of the feminine or passionate…or culinary! ‘Vicious abundance’, ‘luxury’, ‘overly spiced’, ‘stirring up of passion’, ‘disfigure the face of truth by daubing it over with the paint of language’ https://bit.ly/2W2CcNI. The trouble is, this has rather alienated those of us that find passion and joy in words, food and any combination thereof. Not to mention –it’s all a bit misogyny-stinky really.
It’s time to remember the story that we love. The reason that you avidly tune in to your favourite chef and Gardening Australia. I don’t have the relative statistics on audience numbers for Nigella vs. The Australian Dietary Guidelines, but I bet you my left kidney that the British Food Vixen wins in spades. It’s high time we chucked the guilt, the language as comforting as a straight-jacket and remembered all the passion: The energetic preparing of garden beds and soil, the maternal care and excitement in a sprouting seedling, the ridiculous abundance of harvest, and how damned good things taste when you’ve been there for their whole story. Incidentally, food experienced from seed to satiety also induces a lost reverence for food –no, I don’t mean religion. Any Mother will understand what I’m talking about. And guess what? When food is precious, laden with story and sweat, delight and stewardship, you don’t over-eat. You savour. Your eyes close so that you can concentrate on a tapestry of flavour.
No matter how you do it, from growing your own herbs on a sunny windowsill, or from getting to know your local producers as people, or from simply rejecting food as somehow ‘owned’ by science, or by actually growing your own tomatoes this season, one thing is certain: Great flavour (like great sex) is never about too much. It’s always about delight, pleasure, subtlety, and intimate, passionate knowing.
Catherine Lockley is a Clinical and Community Nutrition Consultant (B.Sc [Food & Nutrition]), a Nutrition researcher with The Australian National University (MScicom), a passionate gardener (Cert.agroec), a writer and a musician (A.Mus.A). She is available for consultation within the Greater Blue Mountains and Central West NSW or via Skype. She can be contacted at: