Monday, 5 January 2009

Welcome to 2009

Happy New Year to you all. Christmas came and went with a rapidity not seen since Usain Bolt jogged to victory in Beijing. Then 2008 limped into the vast unshakeable void of history giving way to a pristine and virginal ’09 just waiting to have its clean slate sullied by time and memories. Naturally, food and drink were consumed with appropriate abandon.

But now, as we rub the sleep from our eyes and wake, blinking, into the new year, reality once again begins to claw at our consciousness and offers us another twelve months to approach, each in our own inimitable way.

It will be an interesting one, that’s for sure, no doubt full of surprises, disappointments, excitement, boredom, smiles, tears, peaks and troughs. But that’s what makes everything so exciting – were it not for the lack of certainty, life would be a long, dull ride – much like driving up the A1.

One thing, however, is certain: we all have to eat. And with the full reality of the current economic malaise due to bite hard some time within the next couple of months, it looks like we are all going to be eating in more often and living on more beans, seeds and pulses than we have become accustomed to.

Say goodbye to midweek fillet steak and pork loins and hello to skirt and belly. Time to wave a farewell to all those exotic must have ingredients that have been damn near rammed down our throats by chefs and pretentious foodies for the last decade and welcome to the stage low-cost, low carbon and local alternatives.

In my book this is no bad thing and a food philosophy I have been trying to embrace for quite some time. There are many things I won’t miss and many more that I am very excited about seeing on menus again thanks to the increasing popularity of local shops. Yes, the supermarket may still rule the vast majority of households in this country but try asking the student behind the meat counter for half a kilo of beef skirt, a pork knuckle or a brace of oven ready rabbits and you will likely get a look more vacant than a soiled nightclub toilet at 2am.

Request these from the butcher, however, and you will be welcomed in with open arms and embraced like an old friend. You can apply the same thing to the greengrocer, the fishmonger or even the baker (although don’t forget to substitute meat requests for the appropriate items, else you’ll just look silly).

I hear the sound of a thousand over-priced restaurants closing their doors for the last time. The silence of self-important ‘food fanatics’ who only buy their flour from a convent deep in the Appalachian Mountains is blissful. No more shall we be made to feel nutritionally inferior, like a Victorian street child, just because we can’t afford to buy the latest must-have kitchen ingredient according to the weekend newspapers’ food editors.

So, here’s to 2009 – a year of health, frugality, simplicity, locality and appreciating the little things, the things that really matter. And for that I am deeply, excruciatingly, tinglingly, ball-bouncingly excited.


Hopie said...

I'll drink to that! May the new year be full of those kind of local food moments where you are greeted as an old friend :-)

dp said...

Alex, even though people need to be frugal, I do still hope they pay attention to what they eat. I can just see people eating more canned veggies because they can be less expensive than fresh.

As for the more "frugal" cuts of meat, I think they have been overlooked for too long! My most common purchases are beef chuck (for stir-frying, stews, salads) and pork butt or shoulder. No point in wasting money on ribeye and pork tenderloin for the type of everyday cooking I do.

Happy New Year!

Alicia Foodycat said...

My worry is that the cheap cuts will become chic and they won't be cheap anymore! When the restaurants discovered lamb shanks about 15 years ago the prices more than doubled. So they'd better keep their hands off my oxtails!

Chocolate Shavings said...

I agree. I think it's nice to learn how to cook properly with cheaper cuts of meat that truly benefit from nurturing and several hours of cooking time. The rough economic times might at least have the benefit of making people realize that, sometimes, there's just nothing better that a meaty stew for dinner.