A short editorial article in a magazine I read recently was written by a self-professed foodie. She considered herself a foodie way back in the 80’s when foodies weren’t even really foodies as we know them now. She was amazed that back then, you could host a dinner party and make “duck a l’orange” and you’d impress your guests with your unbelievable cooking knowledge. These days, as she noted, you have to be MUCH more skilled in the kitchen and use many exotically paired foods in order to impress because everyone seems to have a bit of culinary knowledge. (As she puts it, even the kid working at the hardware store knows something about goji berries.)
She went on to describe the fact that these days, not only must you have some great culinary skills and be knowledgeable about many types of food in order to truly consider yourself a foodie, but you must also now be environmentally skilled, growing your own herbs, raising your own fowl and buying only free-range, grass-fed, organically produced meat. Essentially, you must now be a farmer as well as a chef.
This article was funny, if only because I have been thinking this more and more lately as well. Anyone who knows me understands my love for the Food Network and all things food related. But I have also been noticing this strange fact that just merely purchasing food these days is not enough, even if you use all the ingredients and make something from scratch. (Okay, so I didn’t quite make it to the local farmer’s market this summer at all and one of the organizer’s pointed that fact out to me a week ago at the grocery store!)
One of my favourite TV chefs is Gordon Ramsay. I know that he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but my husband will watch him with me and that makes him great in my books! He has three different types of food-based shows on tv and they are all a little different and may appeal to various types of people. Hell’s Kitchen is your typical reality show, with a group of chefs who compete to see who will earn a job in one of Ramsay’s restaurants. This is by far the most brash of the shows, and he uses a lot of profanity, but you get the sense of how difficult it must be to work in a restaurant.
His 2nd show is called “Kitchen Nightmares“ and this one finds Ramsay traveling to various parts of the world to rescue restaurant owners who are floundering. He can still be quite harsh here, but the sheer spectacle of some of these restaurant owners and workers is worth it.
And last but not least, The F Word, takes us into the workings of a restaurant, but you also learn a lot about his life, family and food itself. It is creative and light and usually quite fun. This is where it gets me thinking though. In the first season, he raised turkeys into the fall in order to use them in his restaurant for Christmas dinner. Now, he is raising pigs. Pigs?! Really, who could do this? Not your average person, and it makes you feel a little inferior that you aren’t trying when it seems so “easy” and makes for the best food.
Of course, Gordon Ramsay has many cookbooks, and the latest one to arrive in our library is called Cooking For Friends.
I must say that I tried a few recipes out of this cookbook and while they were good, they weren’t anything spectacular. If you eat peanut butter sandwiches every day for every meal, then the recipes in here will blow you away. But if you like to cook and go to restaurants with good chefs, this cookbook will probably only just please you.
And now his wife Tana has her own cookbook! I don’t think my husband would want me writing a book about fiber optics, no matter how much research I did on the subject because it would only make me look like I was trying to ride his coattails. So why has she written this cookbook? It is her third actually, and she uses recipes that she cooks in her home. This book is for the home cook with easily found ingredients and easy instructions. Her motto is that you shouldn’t cook separate food for children, but rather, make the same food you would for adults, only on a smaller scale and on a simple level.
So, even though she is not a trained chef, she does most of the cooking in her household and wanted to share her skills with the rest of the world. What makes her special? Why couldn’t anyone write their own cookbook? Time and cost, more than likely. It takes a lot of time to develop new recipes and it costs to purchase the ingredients each time you run a trial. Of course, you could always publish your own cookbook of favourite family recipes through a site like Shutterfly and give copies to everyone at Christmas, but it just isn’t the same, is it?
What do you think of all these cookbooks flooding the market? Which ones do you like best?