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Happy-Gourmand

Locavores?

by - Story: 35248


She says:

The New Oxford American Dictionary just announced that “locavore” is the word for the year 2007. You may be pleased to know it beat out such rivals as “bacn” (similar to spam in the computer geek world), cougar (brought back in popularity by reality TV), and “upcycling” (turning waste into something useful). I personally think upcycling was a great word but I guess we need to get better at it first.

It may be that we need to get better at being locavores too. New York magazine did a piece recently on what it takes to buy and cook with ingredients from close to home and it was quite interesting. Three chefs who were all familiar with the local markets certainly found some great artisan products but once the judging panel took into consideration things like salt and sugar and olive oil, the food miles added up quickly. I don’t know about you, but I am not ready to take those things out of my diet just because they aren’t grown or made within a hundred miles of home. However, I do like being aware of other ingredients that are from my neck of the woods.

Some chefs think that the whole movement which encompasses locavores and slow food has become a bit too much. Anthony Bourdain in his recent book, The Nasty Bits, has this to say:

"As much as I admired and appreciated the slow-food movement, and the increased interest in better, more seasonal ingredients, there was a whiff of orthodoxy about it all that I felt contradicted the chef’s basic mission: to give pleasure. I’d met a lot of hungry people in recent years and I doubted very much whether they cared if their next meal came from the next village over or a greenhouse in Tacoma. The notion of 'terroir' and 'organic' started to seem like the kind of thinking you’d expect of the privileged - or isolationist. The very discussion of 'organic' vs 'non-organic', I knew, was a luxury. I’ve since come to believe that any overriding philosophy or worldview is the enemy of good eating."

I can understand his point and I do agree that when a trend becomes a badge that people wear on their shirtsleeves (a bit like a brand name) then it has crossed over and lost its integrity, representing only the ghost of the idea itself. (One of the elements I enjoyed about the NY magazine article was that they incorporated price into the contest it was not about the most expensive specialty item, but about keeping things close to home and still being able to afford it.)

Alice Waters, who is seen as the mother of Slow Food in America, talks about everyone pitching in with what they can, so then those who can afford to buy the most expensive items should do so, as supporting them then tends to make them more easily affordable in the future. Maybe this means that we do want those badge-wearers, but we just don’t want them to turn the idea into a trendy cause. But, how do you separate the two?

Human nature seems to be to take things too far, and by the time we get to the end of the road we realize we have gone too far and we swing back to the other extreme. Maybe we could aim for being “aware-avores” and just remember to eat smart (healthy, flavourful, fresh foods). But wait a minute, that’s not a new idea at all. In fact it may just be the oldest one in the book. It’s a good idea, so I for one think we should stick with it.

He says:

Locavore, slow food, fast food, terroir, organic - wow, people try too hard. Why do we need a term to describe something that is so basic and common as eating. Just eat good food and forget trends. Just cook with fresh ingredients and yes, a good place to find such good ingredients is often next to your house. Trends don’t last. Emeryl was once the top guy on Food TV and now we barely see him. Trends don’t last so stop trying to create the next trend and just cook good, simple meals and share them with others.

Christmas is coming, so start planning your big ticket meals. Plan ahead and maybe even practice a few times until the big day. It may take you a few tries to really master a dish, and that’s fine. Don’t practice on your guests! (That is why you have a mother-in-law.)


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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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