Knowing how your food got to your plate should not be a mystery and it sure as hell should not be a luxury. I need to know where my food is from, exactly what’s in it and how it came into existence. Essentially, it should be made of ingredients I can pronounce, words I recognize ... not numbers.
Numbers are not real ingredients.
I need this basic information. I deserve it. We all do.
A young friend from New York City, upon quizzing him about what he’d like to eat, finally said to me, “I’ve never had so much control over my dinner.” It was a new experience for him to think about his food in that way and have a hand in the process. It was empowering but daunting.
He was referring to the process of simply deciding on meats, produce and flavors but it directly translates into many of our food experiences. Taking an active role in your food selection is an important responsibility at any age; the kid hit the nail on the head. It wasn’t always like this, though.
Organic is quite the buzz word these days. Great debate exists over its importance and validity. My stance here is simple: I believe food should be as Mother Nature intended and not tinkered-with in a lab.
I believe in farmers, not labels.
The fact that the government has allowed a company to slap an organic label on something does not necessarily convince me of anything. Sadly, it still requires me to ask a few more questions ... just to be sure I understand how my food came to be.
Organic these days seems to indicate a luxurious food indulgence.
People joke about this. It’s not funny.
“Organic” food used to just be known as “food.” Everyone basically had the same food. Some people had more land to grow larger quantities and some may have had fancier ways to prepare it ... but everyone in suburbs and cities ate organic food because that is all there was. You either grew it yourself, knew the farmer personally or the farmer personally delivered those foods to your local market.
We shouldn’t need to investigate how our food got to the table.
Food facts should not be held hostage, available only to those who can afford to pay the ransom at the likes of Whole Foods and the few other grocers that offer signage informing you which farm had grown your produce and meats.
No one is perfect but let’s continue to ask questions, read labels and remember that real food is grown by real people on farms — not in labs — and should absolutely be accessible to everyone regardless of geographic location or social standing.
I am encouraging you to really think about this and start to take small steps towards change.
Photo Credit: Melanie Carden
Tomorrow I’m having surgery to remove two small areas of wonky, wayward cells from my breast. The process has been no picnic. I don’t have cancer, as it stands now, and I am grateful and quite energized by that knowledge. Final test results, post-surgery, will confirm this diagnosis soon enough.
When first called back to the Breast Care Center for additional imaging, pork chops were the topic du jour, in the waiting room. Women were discussing recipes for “tender, tasty chops”. Perfectly grilled sliders were top-of-mind during my next visit – morning television hosts were noshing and chatting about quintessential summer fare.
Food, even in verbal form it seems, is comforting.
Women in pink hospital robes fill the chairs…waiting. Some are here for simple mammograms, others have been called back for additional imaging and some for various biopsies or surgeon consultations.
Within a month, I have been here four times and all the while…waiting. Waiting for the phone to ring, test results, procedures to be scheduled, surgery-day to arrive and so on.
The patient must be patient.
Anticipation is a distant cousin to “apprehension,” but with positive connotations. The waiting, however, can still be vexing.
Expectant, eager emotions play a role in the kitchen, as well, as you visualize the end result: those slow-cooking ribs, the Thanksgiving turkey roasting all day long.
The anticipation, for example, of a cake coming out of the oven is quite palpable. The feeling builds as the timer counts down and it rises to the occasion in the heat of the oven. Taunting you as it cools, still too hot to frost, it always seems to take an eternity before you’re rewarded with sweet celebration.
Occasionally I second-guess if the cake will turn out as I expect. Chocolatey fragrance envelopes me, though, and with it wafts of absolute, unyielding positivity – even if the cake is not perfect, it can always be transformed into a fabulous trifle.
The patient, much like the chef, must choose anticipation over worry. Appreciate the unexpected nuances and reincarnations of your journey.
Knowing I will be famished, exhausted and in pain when released from the hospital, I have planned pot roast sandwiches for dinner. Roasts usually entail a food-of-love approach – wine, shallots, herbs, searing, stuffing the meat with a garlic mixture – but the recipe below is my secret weapon. This is my “oh jeez, house guests at the holidays!” savior.
One of the reasons this recipe works so well, even without all the fanfare of my usual pot roast recipe, is the quality and cut of the beef. Grab some bulky rolls, some chunky blue cheese dressing or horseradish cream sauce and dig in!
Anticipation Pot Roast Sandwiches Crock Pot Recipe!
Peel and slice the onions. Pat the steak seasoning onto all sides of the roast to make a light crust; use a little extra as needed. Place in the crock pot. Place garlic directly on top of the meat and then the rosemary and finally top with the onions. Pour your liquids in gently. Cook on high for 8 hours.
The chuck cut on this roast is specifically wonderful for getting that “shredded beef” texture that makes the sandwiches crave-worthy. Embrace the anticipation and…be patient.
Originally published: The Winchester Star, September 2016
Photo credit: "The Promise Of Happiness," DeviantArt (BlackJack0919): CC BY-ND 3.0
Welcome to Chef
Mel's Genuine Journey: Dig In.
Originally published as a column in The Winchester Star newspaper (2016-18), Chef Mel's Genuine Journey connects real-life experiences with the deeper meanings and lessons gleaned from the garden, kitchen, and dining room table.