by Tara Davis
Food is an odd commodity in western culture. It is, and always has been, sustenance. But now it is about convenience as well. And also, quality. Time, however, is a luxury we rarely afford our food.
While I fully understand and acknowledge having a busy life, not allowing time for that which we put into our bodies on a daily basis seems almost criminal at its heart.
But the vicious cycle of time obligates us to work and attend other needs more urgently, more thoroughly than our own nutrition and enjoyment thereof.
Gone are the days of dinner over several courses and hours, lounging after with drinks and civilized conversation.
And so the great industry debate soldiers on. Convenience versus process. Affordability against quality.
Luckily, there is a great deal of middle ground.
My business, for instance, offers grab and go items on the daily, at a reasonable price, made from scratch using fresh ingredients. But it takes time, planning and labor to be able to offer that valuable luxury to our customers. To me, you are worth all of it, just as the ingredients I use are deserving of fine treatment and pampering.
Little compares to the reverence with which summer tomatoes and winter greens, fresh eggs and well cured bacon are treated in my kitchen.
The excitement of walking through a space filled with the aromas of beautiful things cooking slowly and surely, flavors developing and marrying is unlike any other food experience. Not all great things take long amounts of time. But some- some are well worth the wait.
When customers are inconvenienced with a 10 minute wait, a sold out item, or faced with the reality of something being unavailable, it is, of course, less than ideal. But I have made peace with the fact that some things take time, and great things are not necessarily always convenient.
My preference is freshly available over half heartedly offered.
In that spirit, I encourage you to spend some time on and with your food this week. Invest in yourself, in your experience with food. Buck convenience, if just for a day. Maybe that means taking yourself out for a nice dinner, or maybe it means firing up your smoker.
However it may look, I implore you- savor. Linger. Spend some time, and love the process as much as the end result.
A couple of recipes worth diving into:
2 tbsp. rendered pork lard or vegetable oil
Beef: Brown 1 (2-lb.) Beef rump roast or beef eye of round, salted and peppered, on all sides in a skillet with vegetable oil. Add 1 stalk celery, finely chopped, 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed, 1 medium carrot, finely chopped, 1⁄2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped. Cook until softened. Add 1 cup red wine, cook 5 minutes. Add 6 whole cloves, 1 (14-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice. Simmer over medium low heat until tender, approximately 3 hours.
Chicken: Place 5-6 chicken pieces in a 4- or 5-qt. Dutch oven, or heavy pan with a lid. Top with 12 oz salsa, 8 oz corn, 10 oz black beans, 8 oz diced tomatoes, chiles , salt and pepper to taste. Cook, covered, on low until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 165°, 3-4 hours.