There’s an unfortunate link between “anally retentive” and “bottom draw”. Both suggest neatness, order and a dislike of “shit” all over the place. A place for everything and everything in its place. Nigel Slater, #realnigelslater, tweeted yesterday that a draw full of kitchen gadgets was his idea of hell. Hell, therefore, defines my cooking utensil draw. There is an order to it, the order so hidden as to be similar to a coded message written on the Enigma machine. However, should anyone but me put a utensil back in this draw, its absence from its appointed spot would immediately draw my attention which suggests that my idea of hell is anyone messing with my disordered order. As a cook who works alone, I expect my hand to be able to locate any knife, pan or kitchen aid by reflex alone. Cooking should be a pleasure, which is easy for me to say as I’m not cooking for a family of six people every day. I don’t think I would find that a pleasure, and I’m sure that many of those constrained to do that feel the same way, which may be why so much disgusting processed food is devoured by families in the West. The vast amount of money that is spent on installing smart kitchens and filling them with expensive cooking equipment does not equate to the lacklustre eating habits of the majority of our society. I remember a feature in the “Sunday Times”, some 30 years ago, in which a comparison was made of the contents of dustbins in different areas of England, ranging from the poorest to the wealthiest. There were the obvious differences, but the one thing that struck me at the time was that they were all filled, rich and poor alike, not with the waste from food preparation, but with packaging. I don’t think there has been much change. Although cookery writers and magazine editors extol the virtues of fresh produce, and “farmers markets” thrive throughout the land. my experience has been that freezers are fuller than vegetable racks. Of course vegetables and fresh food are perishable, so I can see the argument for the freezer, but it is specious. In the end it’s choice. Easier to stick a frozen lasagne in the oven than to pare vegetables and trim meat after a long day working, blah, blah, blah…..no question. There is a suggestion that the “horse meat” mislabelling episode will result in a change of eating habits. That’s about as likely as the Chinese stopping eating dogs after they’ve been to Crufts. The majority of our population are either too rich to care or too poor to have a choice. The cookery book mountain has provided a similar quantity of unread books as did the Gideon Bible. I spent the most pleasurable part of my working life illustrating cookery books whilst the most lucrative part was spent making television commercials for packaged and frozen foods. With all the creative effort and talent used to convince people of the truth in a lie, it’s not hard to imagine how we can believe that the huge tin foil tray, which according to the picture on the lid contains a feast of perfectly prepared food, can be ours for £1.00 or some such unreal price. A piece of knitwear with the correct label at £350.00 makes sense to us, but money spent on good food can be such a waste. Time to wake up.
About Food,Photography & FrancePhotographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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