Sunday, May 11, 2008

What is a cook's resposibility to the world?

I should not be allowed to read post apocalyptic novels.

Particularly the well written ones, the ones with characters that understand that dried beans are better than canned, the appreciate early on the importance of salt, sugar and the coming of winter. I read them and suddenly I want to start hoarding, make slow simmering soups, and in general preparing my swiss army knife for the imagined difficulties that lie just ahead.

So what happens when the news starts reading like a post apocalyptic novel? When you start to see, if not catastrophic changes, then at least significant ones that affect your own kitchen?

There is waste in a professional kitchen. A good chef will minimize it, to be sure, but it is there nonetheless. In a catering kitchen it can be flat out appalling; you know what bad form it is to run out of food at your own party, and when every order is a party...

Add to that the question of local/sustainable/seasonal/organic. Can you offer a client an organic option when you have no idea if three months from now that option will even be available? What happens if you do and then the guest count goes up beyond the capability of the farmer?

We have unbelievable opulence where our food is concerned and I see it getting taken for granted daily. What should my responsibility be? To give the clients what they want? To educate from within? To leave it behind in protest?

I asked a horticultural friend why he stays in an area that is still fairly backward where food consciousness is concerned- he has multiple jobs to keep afloat. He says he would rather stay to try and help the change happen, because if he doesn't, it will just make the area slip further behind. That is seriously noble.

As someone who isn't at the top of the kitchen food chain, who can influence very little, I wish I could go somewhere where I didn't have to trailblaze, where I could work with people who have some of the concerns I do. It is frustrating to have such a small voice.

I think it is important to keep speaking up, though. Or else the rice flour, the pandan, the sugar and the chocolate that made this bite won't be available. Even without an apocalypse.

1 comment:

ThePooh said...

Okay, I think you need an intervention. You are not allowed to have 2 blogs that revolve around the apocalypse. It's just ... well, it can't be healthy. :P