What makes a chef? It starts before any official training in culinary arts and perhaps even before that first job in a restaurant as a dishwasher. It starts back with the family, for good or ill, and those first meals our parents or grandparents cooked for us. The road to cooking begins with food and love—or the lack thereof. Nigel Slater relates his journey, in all its twisted glory, in Toast.
It seems like the French have a good handle on this food thing. Give the recent spate of books published in the last several years, it appears that French women don’t get fat and French children are well-behaved, adventurous eaters. If this isn’t enough, now they’re going organic in the school cafeteria. Director Jean-Paul Jaud chronicles one town’s efforts to turn away from chemical-based agriculture and foster a healthier lifestyle for the entire community in Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution.
We know that family farms have all but disappeared. It’s a brave new world of bigger and better industrial agriculture and monoculture crops. But what does that really mean? Should we be concerned that much of our food system is fueled by a genetically-modified corn that is primarily processed into sweeteners and animal feed? Perhaps. A trio of friends decided to investigate in King Corn.
It is no surprise that we find respite in what is simple. Handsfree headsets allow us to talk while we drive or type. Smartphones and tablet computers let us work, read, play and connect all at the same time. Workout “meetings” at the gym get careers as well as bodies fit. Even speed dating has been replaced by the more efficient “weed dating”: a chance to meet someone while supporting local agriculture. In all this productive chaos, it is no wonder that what is singular and pure appeals to us. When Jiro Ono dreams of sushi, it is easy to surrender to his vision.
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