I am, above all else, a lover of food. Food is one of the biggest pleasures in life. We smell food, feel food, hear food sizzling, melting, simmering while it cooks all before we taste food. Eating is a sensory act as much as it is an act of nourishment. The sharing of this enjoyable experience is at the base of most cultures around the world, coming together as we nourish ourselves and our loved ones.
During my previous life as an opera singer, I studied at the Royal College of Music in London, a city that really is the melting pot of the world. England has long battled its reputation as a culinary dolt (a reputation highly undeserved), but I found my foodie self in London. I was lucky to live there during a time when locally sourced, seasonal ingredients were on offer at dozens of street markets around the city. Fresh tuna steaks cut right from the tuna in Borough Market, purple cauliflowers, wild boar sausages, raw milk butter, rabbit and pheasants, freshly shucked oysters, aged beef roasts, goose terrines, colorful spices, wine-soaked cheeses aged in underground caves… the list could go on and on. In addition food organizations would hold how-to seminars at busy rail stations and TV cooking shows featured people either growing their own foods or hunting and foraging their food, then cooking it in beautiful and varied ways.
Inspired by all I had learned from these chefs and producers of deliciousness, I moved back to California determined to make use of our varied, natural resources. I cultivated and planted a large garden, began raising chickens and turkeys, and turned my sights onto traditional models of eating unprocessed, real foods for health and well being.
Food is central to the enjoyment of our lives and too often we neglect the sensual pleasures of eating for the quick energy of a drab ‘hold-your-nose-and-swallow’ protein bar, or that glitzy-advertized, greasy, sugar-laced fast food “meal.” Real traditional foods need no fancy advertising gimmick. When we eat well, we feel better. We are drawn to the vaguely familiar idea of home cooking because when it’s done well, there is nothing quite as cozily satisfying.
Our society has moved away from traditional, nourishing foods full of flavor, vitamins, minerals and nourishing natural fats and straight into industrialized “foods” that don’t occur naturally in nature, that are preserved past reason but more importantly, that fail to provide the full nutrition our bodies have come to expect over the past millennia.
Picture Real Food will present easy-to-make, nutritious and delicious recipes that you will feel instinctively good about eating. We will explore various ingredients and learn their origins and the processes by which they are made. I will profile some of the people I most admire in the Real Food and Slow Food Movements along with small farmers and local growers passionate about their products.
For those of us confused by the laundry list of “correct” diets and intimidated by the idea of eating non-fat yogurt and steamed chicken breasts with broccoli for the rest our lives, I submit that healthy weight and whole nutrition cannot be achieved long term when we are starving ourselves of natural fats which are conductors of both flavor and satisfaction in every meal. Learning about the benefits of olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, nuts and more will add variety, flavor and satiety to all of your meals.
Long term dietary change comes from positive, intrinsic motivation for betterment as opposed to internal guilt and external disapproval by today’s self-appointed food nazis. Healthful change also ultimately eludes us when we sit in self judgement of each and every bite that doesn’t perfectly fit into the diet du jour.
I have experienced first hand the benefits that come with discarding the various diet mantras and embracing the traditional eating lifestyle, from weight loss to improved joint function and reduced pain. I am not a licensed nutritionist, I am instead an informed consumer, enthusiastic eater and happy cook who enjoys preparing natural foods in delicious and satisfying ways.
I hope that Picture Real Food will offer you a window into your own health and provide recipes you will make repeatedly for the simple pleasure of eating delicious and nutritious real food.