A Long Luscious Lunch … but the holidays are over….

  • Oh, it’s been a lovely long holiday with almost too many lunches to write a blog about… Firstly,  there was the lovely Lunch that a group of us prepared for TedX The Hague on July 13th. We made a fusion udon noodle salad dressed with kaffir lime leaves, couscous with grilled vegetables and feta cheese, and pasta and pesto all served with delicious sour bread dough made by Esther at Baklust cafe on Veenkade, piping hot buttery naan breads and tarka dahl from Chef India on Prins Hendrikstraat, power juices and scones from the hugely hospitable Quirkys cafe on Prins Hendrikstraat not to forget the chutneys and crackers from Kelly’s Expat store on Piet Heinstraat. The salady goods, mushrooms and vegetables above came from my friends at the organic market held every Wednesday on the Hofplaats in The Hague. I was lucky enough to be able to give a talk at TedX as well about my pet love – you guessed it… food! Here it is if you fancy a listen….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gsMSXhumBY&feature=share

I thank all the volunteers who helped create a lovely lunch for the 150 + participants at the TedX The Hague conference! We successfully celebrated local businesses such as La Buena Vida on the Fahrenheitstraat 582 who supplied a gorgeous pasta and great cooks such as those from Baklust and Chef India, and those at the market who grow or gather the most stupendous produce for us to share and eat! Please do support local food growers and producers and a staunchly personal style of shopping. It’s so lovely when you can discuss your purchase with the storekeeper and glean knowledge and wisdom.

Changing the World One Lunch at a Time….

My talk was entitled Changing the World One Lunch at a Time in which I stressed the meaning of food in terms of personal, cultural and historical and how it is more than just survival but an art form, a message of love, of care, of nurturing and ultimately something we should all be thinking way more about! I also believe that the time we spend preparing and eating it should be a time to communicate with friends, family, neighbours and even strangers! If we can spend 20 minutes in our busy day sitting at a table in a semblance of calm (OK, I know that’s highly unlikely!) attempting to find out about each other, our ups and downs, our highs and lows, our triumphs or conflicts, then I absolutely believe our world would be a better place. We might try it tonight and maybe one thing you and your family could discuss is the inequality of how food is distributed in our world: 8 billion of us go to bed hungry, the same number are overweight. What goes on? Do have a look at Ellen Gustafson talking about two sides of the same coin on http://www.Ted.com. I like her point of view!

Here is my equation for making our world a slightly better place.

People @ a table + good, wholesome food (sustainably produced) + 20 mins = communication

Travels and Food Trends

Our family had a lovely time traveling to London (luscious lunch at Ottolenghi’s, fusion at The Tapa Room  by Peter Gordon on Marleybone High streets) a fab time fossil hunting in Lyme Regis ( more lunch at the Mill House Bakery where our love of bread was fully indulged), crabbing in Padstowe (the best Cornish pasties at Rick Stein’s deli!) and spotting seals at St Ives. Jack delighted in fishing for crabs in Salcombe and caught loads of prawns as well. Humans do love to forage and we all had great fun blackberrying, seeking out plums and mulberries alongside the Avon canal and buying roadside homegrown veggies.

British food has got a lot better and there are plenty of local artisans making beautiful products in the UK but (and this is a big butt!) there are some very worrying trends as well. Chips are often served with everything even when you ask for them not to be…. Children’s menus are everywhere offering the worst of over-processed foods and not a green bit on their plates. Advertisements offer kid’s meals for free… careful! As my dad would have told you.. there is no such thing as a free lunch and these lunches will offer you nothing very nutritious. I also notice a new trend of which it is easy to fall headlong into, literally. It is what I call the nosebag style of eating and this I observed constantly. We just don’t stop eating. We seem to have a fear of not having a continual supply of something to gnaw upon, so we eat and drink virtually all day. Can we remember a time when we didn’t snack between meals? Do you remember when you said to your mum and dad: “I’m starving, what can I eat??”

And they replied with some severity – Wait for dinner! Go out and play!

We are constantly bombarded with food in abundance in the so-called developed world. Not so long ago we took picnic hampers wherever we went.  Today we are forced to buy 3 for the price of two and our portion sizes are getting larger and larger as are we and our cars! Crisps and sports drinks are not to be confused with food; they are not. Teach your kids well – it’s easy to be taken unawares by those who would have us eat more and more of overly proccessed food.

The good news released this week is that potatoes are apparently good for us! Not the chipped variety though. I am hoping the mashed and roasted in olive oil aren’t too bad. And the other good news is there are plenty of kohlrabi at the market. Cut them into strips and serve with finely chopped white cabbage, cranberries, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice: lovely. I am not going to do a recipe for this blog. Instead I would like to suggest a return to simple meals such as a perfectly boiled egg with whole wheat soldiers (get frozen whole-wheat bagels to make the soldiers from Kelly’s Expat store). Ours below we sprinkled with sumac for a change, a sourish, critussy sort of flavour which is tricky to describe by worth a try! Make an omelette with cheese, spinach and herby fillings and serve with a crisp salad. Try a cheese souffle with the same. Do a special mystery tasting with your family. See who can spot a cheese with cumin, a cheddar, a brie. Serve your cheese board with a fresh sweet sour apple, chutney, and rice crackers. Introduce unusual dried fruits such as mango and peach with the cheese. Make some dips and serve with fresh cauliflower, broccoli and carrot batons! Make your own from ‘scratch’ popcorn and flavour with lemon or lime zest or garlic with black pepper and sea-salt. Good food doesn’t have to be difficult at all. Exploring and explaining new tastes such as sour, sweet, salty can be loads of fun. Cooking is always great fun with your kids. Take time to shop for, prepare and explain about food.

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