No, I’m not sure what the title means either, but I’ve just read chef Jamie Oliver’s declaration We can’t cook for a downturn and find myself nodding in agreement with it so hard it seems to have rattled my brain.
For all the attention placed on fine food, we seem to have lost our way with our everyday chow. Cucina Povera might be alive and well here in the soggy hill country of the Lunigiana, but elsewhere it seems a lost art.
The point is, a whole lot of people have given their souls to industrial food producers. We don’t know how to be happy in poverty any more. We’ve lost the ability to eat low off the hog.
You see, low off the hog is where the tastiest meat is found, which also requires the most skill to cook properly. In America there has been no need to pass cooking traditions down through the generations. You just got a minimum wage job and ate at McDonalds like everyone else.
So Jamie Oliver has put out the clarion call for more attention to the culinary arts.
It is a poverty of being able to nourish their family, in any class (of society),” he said.
“It directly runs with the outrageous obesity that is actually happening now.”
You’re telling me. Watching the lines at the polls during the recent election and the interviews with American voters on BBC were painful. After two months of living in rural Italy, I thought the television in the cottage I was staying at was way out of adjustment. Those people waddling to the polls looked uniformly enormous. I mean it’s not like I’m skinny as a rail either, but sheesh.
Jamie has actually given up on Americans as far as fast food goes.
“If we leave it, it will be like America, where it is almost not worth it, because it’s so ingrained.”
It’s a pretty sad truth. But I’m grateful to be in a place at the moment that holds good, basic food and nutrition high on the list of priorities. Last night we dined at our neighbor’s house. We had testaroli with homemade pesto made with homemade olive oil. I had a big spoonful of homemade balsamic vinegar that had taken 17 years to age. If you want to taste something different than the crap they sell in the supermarket consisting of caramel and cheap wine vinegar and label wrongly as Aceto Balsamico di Modena, then try to get your hands on some real balsamic vinegar from Modena.
Then tell me it’s not worth it to work toward excellence in everything you do—including what you put in your mouth.