Above is vision of hell from an unknown Portuguese artist from the sixteenth century. I’m thinking the great Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton movie.
Sometimes cooks, foodies, gastronomes, gourmands and everyone else may come off as a bit too celebratory, a bit too awed by food and the culinary world. Sometimes we need a reminder about what’s really happening.
Even further, our approach to food and cooking also needs critical and social analysis. I love Thug Kitchen and at the same time Bryant Terry, author of “Afro-Vegan: Farm Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed,” has an extremely perceptive and relevant reading in The Problem with “Thug Cuisine.”
The New York Times Sunday Magazine this past weekend ran a “Food Issue,” which featured How School Lunch Became The Latest Political Battleground. Fed Up certainly demonstrates how a lunch served to children at school brings together chefs, food industry, food activists, and government for an all-out wrestling match.
Running not far behind, we see the gender, political and social issues involved with cooking in What If You Just Hate Making Dinner, also in last Sunday’s New York Time Magazine. I admit that I don’t quite understand this horrific outlook on cooking–and I am the main cook in the family, as a man; and I don’t view cooking as shackling me to the kitchen (oh please shackle me to the kitchen)–yet I know, for those who are not enthusiastic about knife and pot, the kitchen may look like one of Piranesi’s prisons.
Early on in René Redzepi’s journal, he begins narrating the preparations for MAD symposium, “mad being the danish word for ‘food.'” The symposium has now become a blog focusing on food and culture. Two recent posts have concerned Chefs Should Get Out Of The Kitchen and Being A Chef Doesn’t Make You An Agent Of Social Change. Of course, there’s always Kitchen Nightmares–a show that emphasizes many important fundamentals about cooking and running a restaurant . . . and the horrors involved.
By now it’s cocktail hour and time to begin preparations for tonight’s dinner. May I suggest some comfort food to take you gently into that good night and through all this storm and stress: Oxtails With Gravy. Bon Appétit!