Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lunch with Alice Waters, Food Revolutionary

My one regret about writing is that it takes time away from food. The planning, the purchasing at the farmer's market from the sweet lady who grows organically, the harvesting, the preparation, the serving, the leisurely eating. In the last couple of years, I've written more but cooked less. And although I have greatly enjoyed the hard but fulfilling work of writing, I've just recently realized how much I miss the kinds of cooking I used to do.

For me, writing and cooking come from the same place, just as Jung paired dreams and creating literature. "Creating literature, like dreams, is inventing from the imagination," he said. For me, both writing and cooking are inventing twice. The first invention is creating the story or dish in my mind. I must have a clear idea of the outcome, what I'm trying to achieve, what I want to be noticed in the finished product, what I wish for the partaker to experience. The second invention is when my hands actually create the physical products: the story or the food. How will the story 'taste'? How will the dish 'read'?

What clarified this in my mind today is a link my friend sent me, a link to a most wonderful article in today's New York Times. The story: "Lunch with Alice Waters, Food Revolutionary". Alice Waters,an important force in the green gourmet push in our society, is credited with founding California cuisine and has been a high ranking officer of Slow Food, a worldwide group who are reacting to fast food. Go read this article about experiencing food with Alice Waters
And then think twice when you drive through for a burger and fries for lunch. If that's your only choice, your health and your taste buds might be better off if you skipped lunch altogether and settled for a piece of local fruit. You'd definitely be hungrier come dinner time when you'd arrive at your home stocked, hopefully, with healthier and better-tasting options.

And then if you're still pushed for time and must prepare food in a split second, become a Farm Girl or Boy a la MaryJane Butters. Ever since I first read about her in The New Yorker I have been intrigued with MaryJane Butters and her concept of MaryJane's Farm: organic fast food, actually quicker and more instantly available than driving through for the burger or McChicken sandwich. This week I've already made MaryJane's signature concept: the bakeover, a kind of glorified, organic Shepherd's Pie that takes roughly 30 minutes from walking into the kitchen until actually sitting down at the table to eat. I, like so many others, am the sole person in my home who shops for groceries and plans and prepares meals, so MaryJane has kept me from sinking into fast food doom on those days when I leave for work as the sun comes up and return home at dusk.

Don't think you have heard the last of the food topic, especially about buying local, organic foods. After all, I grew up a good half hour's drive from the closest 'chain' grocery store, and my grandfather's farm was both his hobby and my family's supermarket and emotional center.

Be warned. There will probably even be recipes.

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