Thursday, 29 July 2010

life on a plate

Nothing tastes of childhood to me like a stolen strawberry, filched straight from the plant. My father used to grow them and we'd come in from the garden, faces smeared red, valiantly denying eating them.
So that's my excuse for an afternoon raiding the local Pick Your Own, where we went faintly mad and came home staggering under soft fruit. My son loved it, but in all honesty so did I.
I like picking my own fruit in the same way I like buying eggs at the farm gate: no middleman, just you and the person who produced it. I love the way the eggs come still covered in straw, with the odd wonkily-shaped one: I love that there's an honesty box for the money and that 'free range' means the chickens scratching about on the driveway in front of you. (And yes, farm eggs are even cheaper than Lidl's).
Living in the country offers a different relationship with food than we had in the city, and as someone who loves to cook and also frankly to eat, that's great. But is it, I dunno, really progress?
One rough measure of the intelligence of a species is how much of its time it spends looking for food: the more spare time it has to play, the more advanced it's likely to be.
So primitive man spent long days hunting mammoths and scavenging for berries. Then we invented farming to save us going out and finding stuff, and a few millennia later evolution finally reached its natural conclusion: the Ocado delivery. Short of having someone actually eat for you (and who knows, possibly Posh Spice does this) it couldn't be more convenient.
So how do the pampered middle classes respond? We start wandering farmers' markets, growing our own, and doing complicated things with celeriac. We watch/read/blog about food porn: as the cliche goes, we make food the new fashion.
And so we make our foodie life as timeconsuming and as difficult as we can. We're literally back to foraging for berries - though admittedly in more convenient surroundings (our local Pick Your Own has en suite kids' adventure playground, something I doubt early homo sapiens enjoyed).
In evolutionary terms, it makes no sense. On the other hand, I'm eating these strawberries as I type and they taste amazing. Does anyone know what I can do with about half a ton of blackcurrants?


  1. Gaby Blackcurrants good as --> jam, fridge jam, jelly, syrup, vinegar, wine. Also great as cassis (like sloe gin except with blackcurrants and brandy - yum).

    Good books to have are: River Cottage Handbook No 2, Preserves by Pam Corbin; Preserving by Oded Schwartz and First Steps in Winemaking by C J Berry. All classics.

  2. 生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .