2 years ago
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
(photo from channel 4 on the Guardian website, guardian.co.uk)
I had recently seen advertisements for the new reality show about how we eat in America, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I knew it would be up my alley from what I'd seen, but I was completely unprepared for how emotional it was. I watched episodes one and two back to back, tears streaming down my face. This man truly cares about helping human beings live happier, healthier lives together and is going straight for the source. Food. Simple, healthy, seasonal food made from fresh ingredients and learning how to prepare it and eat it together.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where dinner was an unspoken requirement every evening, one I looked forward to. We had chicken cheesy breadcrumb, spinach raviolis from Costco with fresh tomatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, salmon with rice and green beans, and we always sat down to enjoy it together. Mostly my mom cooked, sometimes dad would put together stew or chili or spaghetti. Both of them almost always from scratch. Neither of them ever really asked us to do it though. Neither my brother nor I ever volunteered. So once freshman cafeteria year in college was over, I was totally lost. I relied on my then boyfriend for occasional healthy meals. On my own I ate mac and cheese. The boxed kind we were never allowed to consume as children. I ate instant potatoes, lucky charms, scones from the campus store and okay, here and there a hummus and cucumber tortilla wrap. All the way to my fourth year of school when I headed overseas to Germany.
Germany is where I learned to eat. Not necessarily because Germans have the healthiest food in the world (they don't) or because they do it all right. Maybe because they make a little bigger deal out of eating. But it was mostly because other people I met during my studies, and while living there after graduation, had been taught to cook and passed on some of their skills to me. That's really all it takes. Kristofer taught me to make Swedish meatballs with potatoes, Fläskpannkaka, and apple cake. Amy taught me how to make lasagna, and that pretty much any good simple pasta meal can start with olive oil, onions and garlic in a pan. Matthias taught me how to cut an onion and how to make my own spaghetti sauce. That no matter what you have to do in the morning, you must sit down to breakfast. Matthias also taught me, that regardless of how little money you have, there is never a better way to spend it than on good, healthy food. He swatted my hand away as it reached for colored marshmallow gummies at the grocery store, wrinkled his nose in disgust when I described the box mac and cheese of my adulthood. This was one thing everyone in our Berliner squat stood behind, and I'll never forget what our downstairs neighbor said when I moved in. He always had a crock pot of soup or curry from scratch in his kitchen available for anyone who dropped by with an empty stomach. "You will never be hungry here," he told me. And he was right.
So to everyone who has ever taught me how to cook a simple dish or fed me healthy food, thank you. To Jamie Oliver, I see what you're doing and it is a massive challenge. I support you wholeheartedly and I think between you and Mrs. Obama, we can get something accomplished here.
See him yourself if you have 20 minutes to spare: