The most important thing I learned in culinary school had to do with energy. How to cut an onion, how to keep my knife sharp, and why water should be kept as far away from vegetables as possible, are close seconds, but this is number one:
The energy of the cook goes into the food and the energy of the food goes into the cook.
If at first glance this statement appears to offer few clues on achieving culinary expertise, keep chewing on it. Food, like oil, is the sun's energy stored in a different form. It seems solid, but actually, it's millions of atoms and electrons buzzing around one another. Swallow it and it converts back to fuel, making us a world of solar-powered people. Like the gas we feed our cars, the better the food, the better the power. It behooves us to search out the best food we can find.
Using this energy to its full potential is what healthful cooking is really all about, and what makes it exciting! Each carrot, grain of wheat, and piece of meat is a little package of bundled-up energy. Science explains the power of food comes from the protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found within. But the source of these compounds and the strength they exhibit are drawn from an elemental dance between sun, soil, water, and air, assisted by human energetic interaction. The end result is a gift, made just for you by the earth, wrapped in strawberry red, broccoli green, banana yellow, and all of the colors.
Open up the package and bite in.
Let those natural juices drip down your chin and the sun's energy release into you. Think about the elemental forces while you eat; it is they that nourish your body and soul.
Travel along today's culinary road, though, and what do you find? Potholes. Everywhere we turn, potholes line our path, blocking our way toward simple, real food. Highly processed, poor-quality foods stock the shelves of every store. Fast-food restaurants line every street and we supplement with delis and the frozen-foods section. High in fat, sodium, and ingredients we can't pronounce, this low-vibe food is prepared by hands of indifference. Monster marts supply most of itcorporate conglomerates that seem to have forgotten that people are actually eating the stuff. Instead of growing fruits and vegetables with true flavor, our industrial food system buys bloated and bland produce grown in lifeless soil and hires "seasoning professionals" to dress it up and sell it to us as "value-added" product. By supporting this system, we have turned our Standard American Diet into its acronym: SADa diet low in natural goodness and high in saturated and trans fats, chemical additives, and refined sugar. And no matter what makes it onto your dinner plate tonight, guess what one of the other main ingredients will be?
And I mean petroleum. From the wheat fields waving to the manufacturing and moving about of all our boxes and bags, our Standard American Diet has become a global warming diet too.
So fight back this Earth Day, April 22, and let's change the world with great tasting food!
How do you do it?
excerpt from Cool Cuisine, Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming (Gibbs Smith, 2008)
Photo by Trevor Hunt.
Recipe for one gallon of gas