This is my first year participating in Food Revolution Day with the French Fridays with Dorie crew. For more info on Food Revolution Day, see the website. But, the gist of it is that “practical food education” should be taught to children.
On thinking about this post and what I’d say, I realized that I’ve actually played a part in this for almost 6 years now, at the university level. I teach a class whose topic is food and the students’ major projects are to write a research paper using primary research of their own on food/drink/things we ingest. In class, we’d have long conversations thinking about things like Why was food technology something to be lauded in, say, the 1950s (jello, anyone?) versus now where it is something to be wary of (GMO?)? Why does agribusiness exist and what role do these huge businesses play in our food supply? Why are some people so concerned over that?
Part of the reason I chose that topic goes far beyond that it interests me: it’s because the students are, for the first times in their lives, living on their own (the class is not for freshmen in the dorms). They have a host of choices to make and experiences to have regarding food and they are just starting to have those issues, even just in the back of their mind. So we bring it to the forefront in that class.
(It also helps that I remember teaching myself to cook in college. I knew how to bake, but kept trying to cook by just throwing things together with no recipe. The result was inevitably bad, I realize upon looking back, because I hadn’t yet learned a lot of the basic concepts of cooking and they were not innate to me.)
This is all to bring up my favorite quote from a Michael Pollan NYT article that speaks perfectly to what I’ve learned from Dorie. It’s from a 2009 work called “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” that deals with the Julie and Julia movie as an introductory device and then has the seeds of his most recent book for the heart of it. I must add that it’s not Pollan himself who says it, but instead a man by the name of Harry Balzer who studies consumer behavior for NPD.
“Cook it yourself.
Eat anything you want — just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.”
Cooking with and alongside (during the 2 years I didn’t blog) FFWD I learned so many new techniques, I couldn’t choose just one. Sweet Tart Dough? Check. Almond Flounder Meunière that is quick and easily adaptable to different fish? Awesome. Winter Ceviche that I’d never have made on my own and is now a favorite appetizer? Woo! Desserts that I’ve repeatedly been told taste like they were purchased from a bakery in France? Nice!
So, that’s it. It’s all the techniques because the singular act of going through Around My French Table and seeing how easy certain things are to make and even just how to put together other recipes that do take a long time, I’ve been able to live as much as possible by that creed above. And I’ve learned a ton about cooking and what I like to eat along the way. Bonus!
I’ve eaten well and I’ve avoided a lot of mass-produced food. I’m also hoping and wishing to pass the desire to “make it yourself” and to understand the ins and outs, even the history(!), of cooking and baking and eating to my nearly-3-year-old as well.