Slow Food, fast food?

24 Oct

My passion is food and for years I have been creating amazing food for my family and friends. I decided not to pursue catering as a career, taking the view that the hours would be anti-social and unless you have your own business the pay is not good and it could also take the pleasure out of cooking at home. So for over twenty years I worked as a professional librarian and enjoyed coming home and cooking after a long day at work. I have worked full-time for most of my career, although I took 3 months maternity leave and worked term-time for a couple of years. Now I have come full circle and I work part-time and, more surprisingly for me, I actually cook as part of my job. But it is not full scale catering in a hot, pressured kitchen. I work as a housekeeper and my job includes housework, companionship and cooking a proper lunch. In fact I eat lunch with my employer, as that is in the nature of the job and I don’t think it would work as well otherwise.

What amazes me is the number of cookery books and television programmes there are based around preparing meals very quickly. To be honest, I’d be lost if I only spent 15 or 30 minutes in the evening cooking dinner for the family. After all, cooking a meal is also time to listen to the radio and (some evenings) enjoy a glass of wine. If I have a left-over meal in the freezer I am often reluctant to use it, as I always prefer to make something fresh.

But what is fast food? For me it is definitely not a take-away. For a start, most take-aways are pretty bad to eat and bad value. I think that pizza is particularly bad value, being comprised mainly of dough with a very small amount of topping. And for me, a take-away is more inconvenient than a home-cooked meal, as we live miles from any shops and restaurants. It would be quicker to make an omelette or do a fry up. So really on both counts most take-aways fail to be either ‘fast’ or ‘food’ for me. I make an exception for Indian take-aways, for which I do have a weakness (but this does not make them any more convenient to buy).

And at home quickly cooked meals can be more difficult to plan and get ready on time. Think of steak and chips or the simple cheese on toast, or perhaps scrambled eggs for 3 people. When I make scrambled eggs I quite often have to enlist the help of my daughter for watching toast and buttering it. And then I have to assemble everyone before actually cooking the eggs; otherwise they will probably decide to have a shower or make a long ‘phone call at the crucial moment! And hey presto, one runined pan of scrambled eggs!

Now a casserole may take several hours in the oven, but the preparation time can be quite short, depending on the recipe. And then all that waiting will be rewarded with wonderful smells and a dish that will not mind if the diners decide to make a ‘phone call, have a shower or be late turning up if invited as a guest. Just add mash and you have a meal fit for a king!

But as Paul my dear husband once said to me, to him all food is fast and convenient, because he knows that if I cook it, he does not have to worry about a thing and his dinner will be on the table at the required hour.


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