Friday, May 13

Food and its Audience

I don’t know how to bridge this gap.

We went into this industry because we loved food. It meant a lot to us; not just the taste, but the creating, the encouragement of health, eating from what we found in the ground, the transforming of food, combining of flavours, the chemistry of eggs, flour, salt and butter, having you sit down and talk with us and allow us to present something beautiful on a plate for you.

And that was it: for you.

My freind Victoria made this for me this evening: Roasted carrot, sweet potato and goats cheese salad with sautéed pumpkin seeds and rocket.

Food had meaning because it was for people. A café, a restaurant or a market stall is always there to fill a need for others. And so that is why we pursued the food industry. It made sense.

Now that we’re in it we have a certain amount of hours a day that must be filled with prepping and roasting, pealing and poaching, boiling and cutting. And it’s still all for the people sitting outside our kitchens of silver metal and high flames, bulk crates of aubergines and industrial sized fridges with huge sliding doors, because before you were hungry and now you’re content. But you sit down and are served by others who didn’t create what you are eating. Those people are in the kitchen. And this may be going into something much bigger than this page has room for, but those chefs, they also didn’t pull your carrots from the dirt, pick your dates from trees, sift through wheat for the flour in your bread or even slaughter the animals that now lay dormant on your plates. There is no; “I did this for you, to make you feel, or to know that…” We have all sat at that table. I have been a guest at that table.

There is a gap, a giant hole where table and kitchen have become disconnected. Molly Wizenberg wrote in her book A Homemade Life, “I never saw the faces of the people who ate what I had prepared.” There is an unknown space here. And I’m not sure whom it is most sad for. For you, sitting at that table not knowing the story of your meal and the stories of the people who contributed to it. Or is it most sad for us? We don’t know you, you eat our food, food that caused us to venture into this industry because it was supposed to connect us to you. But we don’t even know your names. We don’t know what you really desire and the reasons you may not be pursuing those desires. We don’t know if there is something holding you back, if you created it for yourself or if it is something that happened to you. We don’t know what makes you most excited about life, what gives you that feeling of complete overwhelment? We don’t know why you needed to have that meal with that person. We don’t know how to help you.

We went into this industry because of you. But even though you’re just outside our kitchen, we still don’t even know you. Because after it all, after the pealing and snapping of 300 asparagus stems, after the taste-check of the simmering parmesan and tomato risotto in our heavy based skillets, and even after the washing and wrapping of a dozen crates of fresh coriander, what we really want is to have a conversation with you.

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