Is it just me, or are modern discourses of food ruining our ability to take pleasure in the simple dishes?
Reality food television in particular, has for the last decade instilled an element of competition into food preparation that I simply don’t appreciate. Thanks to the likes of Masterchef, every schmuck with a fork fancies himself as a connoisseur of fine food who samples everything with an unimpressed scowl to rival Matt Preston’s (pictured above). And every other schmuck with a slow cooker smugly informs others at social engagements of the recent coq au vin they whipped up to the delight of their dinner guests (at a party on Saturday night I had to nod politely during a detailed account of beef cheeks).
I understand that for many, food preparation is a favoured pastime and highly enjoyable. Sadly, I am not one of those people. I hate cooking. Go ahead, throw your stones. I find it stressful, boring and messy. I do however, love eating. I derive a serious amount of pleasure from consuming food. If it tastes good, I love it. One of the problems with loving food but hating cooking (of which there are many) is having to pretend to care about the ingredients other people have used to create the meals you are eating. Particularly since Masterchef et al have made ingredients and their origins unnecessarily pretentious. I don’t care if the carrots are organic or if the goats cheese was harvested by tibetan monks during a gibbous moon, or that the dukka has been directly sourced from Egypt. Don’t even get me started on farmers markets. For me, enjoyment of food is not directly proportionate to how difficult its ingredients are to source. Food is more than just the sum of its parts.
I’m fortunate to have dined at some of Melbourne’s most highly revered restaurants, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped regular visits to Taco Bill or those kitch 1950s American themed diners I can’t seem to get enough of. I delight in the first crack on the top of a creme brulee just as much as the first bite of a big mac. To the newly converted ‘foodies‘ (read: food snobs) out there, I ask that you not forget the enjoyment of Mum’s lasagna (even if it came out of a box from Sara Lee) which was your favourite for a solid 10 years, or the unmatchable crunch of a vienetta ice cream log for dessert. You can enjoy dishes made entirely of ingredients from Safeway, I won’t tell anyone. Promise.
(image from news.com.au)