I'm going to tell you a secret, OK its not a very well kept secret! I Love Food. Everything about it. From producing it, to shopping for it, cooking it, eating it, sharing it, reading about it, everything.
I expect some of you think that's pretty sad, but I don't.
As TBH believes that mathematics is a languague. I believe that food is a language, one of love. OO er I hear you cry. Yes I freely admit that I am writing this with a large glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and a plate of prunes wrapped in bacon just out of the oven strategically placed by the laptop. Let me tell you it doesn't get much better than this!
One of my earliest memories is shopping with my Mum, we would take a list to the grocers in town and , magically, sometime the next day a van would appear loaded with goodies. Bit like internet shopping really!
My special treat was an entire block of chocolate mousse from Sainsbury's. Oh the decadence! I would scurry off to my own hideyhole and indulge in a sensuous indulgence. Now I realise it was full of preservatives and nothing like the one I learned to make in later years but boy did it answer a young teenager's need for sensuality!
My dad, would collect me from my Saturday job in the pharmacy of Boots the Chemists and whisk me off to the towns best restaurant. this would be in the early 70's. The height of sophistication was a chicken kiev served with plain boiled rice and half a tinned peach. The excitement! The daring of eating tinned fruit with meat! The excitement of a Steak Diane flambe at the table...be still my beating heart!
My mum would order snails! Yuck. Once I built up the courage to try them at a special evening event. My best friend, Julia, aged ten and three quarters said, just as I was about to pop it in my mouth;"Ooh just think of those wiggly tentacles and slimy trails!' That was it- I've never tried one since, what a missed opportunity.
Funnily enough it has been sailing that opened my eyed to the real expression of food. The way it transcends language and borders. As we entertain friends from around the world it doesn't matter that we don't speak each others language. Through the medium of sharing a meal together we overcome the boundaries of culture and inhibition. One of the greatest evenings we ever had was in Portugal. Way up a river in a tiny hamlet. One of the cruiser, Irish, was having an affair with another, French(they were both single handlers and of opposite sexes I hasten to point out).
He organized a surprise party for her in the only spot in town, the workers co-operative. We were all invited, two Brit boats, one German, a Norwegian couple, a Dutch family and the local Portuguese inhabitants. What a night!
We ate everything you can imagine, beautifully prepared by the caretaker of the club and his wife. I clearly remember, before the alcohol took control, a conversation that began in English and progressed through French, German, Spanish and a great deal of sign language. But it was the food that united us, the tastes, the expressions of pleasure, or distaste, that transcended the problems of a common tongue.
If you want to see a magnificent example of what I am talking about you must watch Babettes Feast a great film that shows the uniting, extraordinary effect that food, prepared with love, can have on a group of people.It's a danish film, gentle and sensuous but you have to see it...