Thursday, March 02, 2006

from the earth

I have been diligent and created some recipe links. Although each offering has yet to evolve into a uniform style, most are simple and easy to follow. I hope you can breathe deeply and smell the aromas as you browse.

My very first recipe was for rhubarb, a gorgeous winter ‘fruit’ that was a constant through my childhood. My mother’s garden, now neglected, still has some surviving plants hanging around the sides. Whenever I am back in New Zealand she stews me some. Though hers was always a no-nonsense simmering of rhubarb stalks washed, topped and tailed with a liberal amount of sugar. My version had the addition of apples, strawberries and rose water. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we have just entered autumn. It is time to farewell the gorgeous stone fruits and see the return of tamarillos, passionfruit and my old friend rhubarb. I can’t wait!

As I buy organic produce, locally grown when possible, it keeps me in harmony with the seasons. The price of forgoing a winter tomato that tastes nothing like the fruit warm from the vine in summer, is the joy of rediscovering the flavours at the time of year that the fruit or vegetable naturally comes into its own. For a cook, to work with what is available at it’s prime, may restrict your repertoire, but ultimately rewards you with flavour. There is a strange freedom in working with seasonal food, necessity is as the say, the mother of invention.

For a generation of kitchen novices, who may only have experienced fresh produce bought from a supermarket, I can understand why so many people cook less now. To me the over chilled, early picked, out of season fruit and vegetables dispayed under the fluro glare, look unappetising. If you never had the opportunity to grow your own, or shop at a seasonal, outdoor market I am not sure how a good relationship with food is ever fostered, so disconnected with the source.

My local food hero, Stephanie Alexander certainly gets the concept. More than that, for years she has done something about it – starting the kitchen garden at Collingwood College. These are city kids, many of whom are raised in the towers of the nearby housing commission flats, growing their own fruit and vegetables and learning to cook them. Hopefully, that means there is a new generation of food loving individuals on its way - and that has to be a good thing, for all of us.



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