Friday, November 11, 2011

Not all producers are Foodies you know

I’ve been ruminating over writing this post for some time now. The thought first struck me a few years ago when eating a meal at the house of a friend who works in the alcoholic beverage industry. This person produces very unique and revered beverages and I assumed quite reasonably I thought, that the passion and dedication required to achieve these outcomes would also be extended to their love and appreciation of food. It turns out I should never assume.
I’m a fan of simple understatement when it comes to my dinner. A clever and confident cook knows instinctively when to pull back on the throttle, how much shade must balance the light and at what time to pull the punch. Simple food is a very deceptive term. At once it assumes (here I go again) that we all share the same aesthetic and all simple foods are born equal. Sliced deli-chicken loaf on commercial white bread with ETA mayonnaise, flaccid iceberg and rock hard tasteless tomatoes might share the same ingredients as one made with poached free-range and seasoned chicken, real mayo, crunchy cos and ripe tomatoes on fresh tangy sourdough but they are worlds apart in so many ways.
If you ever get into the situation where you have to explain this difference to someone you know that they are not from your tribe. So imagine my dismay when confronted by this prosaic at best meal from such a dynamic and inspired beverage craftsperson.
It dawned on me that not all producers, even those who fashion produce for the highest of shelves, are foodies.
How can this be? I mean think about it. Someone for instance decides one day after eating an olive: ‘I can do better than this’ and precedes to fashion the most delicious and sought after olives in the land only to accompany them with some watery cucumber, commercial, fetta and those ubiquitous under ripe tomatoes at their own table? I just don’t get it? Why bother? They’re sullying all their hard work.
I wrongly understood that one must have the fire in one’s belly for the glory of food in general in order to have the enthusiasm to create something of note but this isn’t the case sadly and it leaves me a bit deflated quite frankly.
There are exceptions though, thankfully, who redeem my faith in taking the long path.
One such person, a farmer, once handed me a sliver of home-cured ham on a torn piece of home-made bread with a dollop of salted freshly churned butter and I realized again, that I should never assume.


GourmetGirlfriend said...

yes- i am with in-laws have THE most AMAZING organic vegie patch filled to overflowing with the most amazing bounty. And MOST of it is thrown away!
They have planted all sorts of amazing things (herbs, vegies & fruits) that they DON"T want to eat...confusing much?!!!
They are ye olde English style eaters with extraordinarily limited palates and yet they grow and tend lovingly to this bounty.
We live far away and can't take advantage of it....more's the pity.
I will never forget taking beautiful fresh Spring broad beans to them & they were literally cooked till grey & soggy.
I had to fain illness so as not to endure eating the slush that was passed off as food.
such waste

Jo said...

funny to read that gourmet girlfriend. i too have a crop of broad beans almost ready to eat and no one, including myself, likes broad beans .... but i did get such pleasure planting them and watching them grow!
Im sure i will find someone to eat them.
I just ate my first zucchini today from this years batch. yum. (thank goodness for my glasshouse)

Roz MacAllan said...

I was invited to lunch at an Italian vegetable grower's home (in OZ) and almost everything they served came out of a packet or jar from the conglomerates. The worst was saved to the end, out of the freezer a commercial dessert with an Italian name. I feigned I was too full to eat it.I just couldn't take it anymore. I had a false expectation of having a home cooked meal with an Italian family. A memorable meal for all the wrong reasons.

Rita said...

I love your basic definition of classification of people - "...they are not from your tribe"!To me that just about sums up what life is all about. When we find someone we 'click' with (ie, who is then automatically in 'our tribe') we nurture and encourage that friendship, and are not at all surprised to find that we share many likes and dislikes with them. Naturally there will be opinions they possess that we don't agree with but generally all is smooth sailing.
It is then a shock to find someone, as you have obviously done, to whom you credit beliefs they actually don't have, for whatever reason.
We make a lot of assumptions, as human beings, and I see this on blogs often. As I have aged, I have found it extremely interesting to find myself wrong-footed in an assumption I have made about someone. I try every day not to make those (internal) assumptions, but it's damned hard!
Great post, again.
Love from the Chairperson, Steve Cumper Appreciation Membership (or SCAM, as we affectionately call our club!)

Hazel said...

It still amazes me when my parents eat food we prepare and recognise that it tastes better (well that's what they say) she reads cookbooks and watches cooking shows, but still the concept of seasonal FRESH food is beyond her? Why wouldn't you want to eat better, I still despair over what they eat, and how she prepares it!

Anonymous said...

As a member of the alcoholic beverage industry i once went into a cafe in Tasmania and discovered that the 'locally sourced', 'seasonal ingredients' were paired with generic, mass produced alcoholic beverages mostly from South Australia. My assumption was that somewhere that was so focused on regional produce would replicate this passion across all its product lines. I'm sure there were extenuating circumstances; too busy, 'must get round to that damn wine list', etc, etc as there are with producers who no doubt work long hours and perhaps don't get home and think about churning some butter. We can't have fire in our bellies for everything in life, otherwise we'd be exhausted so we have to decide what gets us going in the morning. Perhaps it's making seasonal food, perhaps it's making fine wines, perhaps it's growing the world's biggest turnip. Whatever it is, the fact that someone has a fire in their belly for anything is surely something to be celebrated, not denigrated just because it isn't the same as your fire.

steve said...

Hi Ruth-this is EXACTLY what I'm on about-I just don't get that?

Hi Jo-I think the broad bean eating tribe is a small one sadly!

G'day Roz-again, you get what the post was about, so incongruous

Hi Rita-No doubt that we're from the same tribe!

Hi Hazel-Its discouraging isn't it?

Hi anon-Thanks for commenting. Not deriding anyone just making my own observations. The important distinction that I feel you’ve missed is that I’m specifically talking about meals served at the home of the producers. For the record, the producer I was using as an example is not in the alcohol industry, I said this as not to make obvious who it actually was.