My family makes me want to write about food.
You’ll have to understand that for me, learning to cook happened in the same way as learning to walk – instinctively and without conscious knowledge. When you grow up in kitchens (for I had multiple homes growing up) surrounded by good food and good cooking, it leads on to being able to make good food.
My family makes me want to write about food: real food, whole food, all the food that has started popping up as buzzwords in trendy circles, but on a simple, basic level. Pickles and fermentation have been tangible science experiments for me to watch throughout my life. Jam bubbling on a stove enthralled me with its delightful colours. Picking vegetables in a little basket was – and probably still is – one of the most rewarding exercises. Having thousands of strawberries one year, thousands of tomatoes another, and more marrows than you know what to do with the next makes you incredible resourceful in creating variations on a theme. It’s quite a creative process, and one that is as much a guiding light for cooking as it is for life.
I have grown up eating experimental traditional food, food that would be called “artisanal” today, but that was simple and based on what we had available at any given meal. I learnt that chewing tough bread would build my character, when all I wanted was the soft-white-air-bread that my peers received in their lunchboxes, before the bread baking had been perfected to the lovely crust-to-crumb ratio that has been achieved now. I learnt that eating fruit was so much more satisfying than eating sweets. I learnt that eating a pea straight off the plant is the sweetest treat that you could dream about. I learnt that you can pull together a wonderful meal with less than ten ingredients and that it will most probably be a more balanced meal than if you have more to work with.
My family makes me want to write about food, because the lessons learnt and the stories told while working together in a homely kitchen are like none other, and they are stories that need to be told.