A great philosopher, Democritus, once said, Life without celebrations is a long road between inns.
Food is life. I live by those words, as should everyone else. Think about that for a moment. Food is life, life is food.
We may have consumed thousands of meals so far in our life, but the ones we remember dearly are the ones we celebrated with friends and family. Sometimes we celebrate at home at our own dining table, most times we celebrate out in restaurants, and a lot of times we dine around the tables of others in places far and wide around the globe.
All roads lead back to food, from the farmers to markets to our tables. The same goes for the ocean, to the fishermen to our lives. Nature, land, earth, ocean, these nurture us. Producers, cooks, chefs, mothers and fathers, every moment of every day we are all somehow involved with food. Food and us, sustainability and the future, hope and life, these are important because without one there is no other.
The above meal was enjoyed in a mountain village close to Volos, Greece. An unforgettable day spent exploring the mountain-life of the people, of understanding how difficult it was for them to get to urban areas, and how resilient and creative they were in growing and preserving their own food. For centuries they have lived seasonally and sustainably, and they continue to do so today.
This British Fry up is world famous. The chef at Lions Pub – in the heart of the financial district in Vancouver – is a master of gastropub fare.
I remember the first time I tasted a steak liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper and pan fried. The delicious umami flavour mixed with the sting of peppers and the satisfying saltiness of the sea, made me think of the symbiotic harmony of land, ocean, and human’s innovation.
Imagine my delight with myself when I realized that this thing on my plate was not just a piece of meat, it had a story, a history, and it was a true gift to me.
That meal started its journey from a neighbouring farm on the Demerara West Coast, where the farmer fed and nurtured the cow before he sold it to the butcher. The marketplace where the butcher knew exactly how to carve it. And finally, to my friend’s mom’s kitchen where she cooked the steaks in a big cast iron pan over her wood stove and then laid out a feast of vegetables, potatoes and meat for her daughter’s friends.
That moment was one sunny day in Guyana, thirty-something years ago.
We had just spent hours on horseback riding the range. And hours swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. We had explored and adventured all day, a group of young people living life with utter entitlement and invincibility.
In the late afternoon, famished, we arrived back at Annabella’s home, expecting to be fed. It was a thankful day, a day where every little thing around me were novelties to be explored and understood.
Every recipe has a story and every morsel remembered tells a tale filled with emotions and flavours. Food and family, friends and moments. These are all fond memories we cherish.
We hold all these little memories together in little glass bubbles in our minds, to remember and discuss when life allows us to slow down.
Some of us travel to eat, some of us celebrate food in our own cities, some of us love to cook.
Some of us own dog-eared cookbooks filled with jotted notes, and stained with memories of a certain dinner, maybe of an occasion when that turkey burned, or when it came out so perfect we were surprised and overwhelmed with an instant desire to be a real cook.
The dishes we taste and the love we feel, the charm of the people and the sighs of contentment, that is what cooking for our loved ones should make us feel.
Add a good dose of curiosity, and an overflowing cup of respect for all cultures. Bring laughter and love to every dinner table, and remove the empty dishes while singing with the joy of food is life.
That is what food should mean to us – not a meal to carry us to the next feeding time, the next inn if you will, but a meal that stays forever in our minds and hearts.