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.