British eating patterns: rise of the zombies! (June 2010)

If I blog occasionally about food, this is because it’s a favourite topic for most people, myself included.  Not everyone, quite – did have a friend who seemed to regard what he put in his mouth with bland indifference.  Food for him was just fuel, not a sensation to be savoured.  Seems crazy to me, and doubtless most French, Spanish and Italians (the people who, according to stereotype, “live to eat”) would be up in arms that anyone could take such a lackadaisical attitude to such a vital part of life, but he seemed happy enough.  He lived and breathed windsurfing instead!  The attitude lingers everywhere I look though – laziness towards our diet, verging on zombified lack of awareness of what we put into our bodies.  Every British person should take a leaf from those continentals and enjoy food to the full!

During my campaign to interrogate all the candidates in my constituency I was in Witham to meet Margaret Phelps, the LD candidate.  Witham is a lovely town in the heart of the much neglected and underrated county of Essex.  And it has a fantastic butcher who makes wonderful hams, scotch eggs, pork pies and other traditional goodies much under-appreciated by those who buy only the feeble manufactured versions from Tesco.  That was a joy to behold and an unexpected pleasure of my time in Witham, that and attending a farmer’s market and buying local asparagus from a farm shop later in the day.  But that’s the point – we should be taking advantage of local suppliers and enjoying these wonderful foods rather than going on autopilot and buying stuff because it’s more convenient to buy from the industrial scale retailers.

Now I’m on a diet, scotch eggs, pork pies, craft cheeses and beers and all manner of other wonderful products are off my agenda for some while.  But that doesn’t stop me cooking good fresh food from raw materials when there is time.  We should all spend a little more time to cook freshly, don’t you think?  It’s better for you and really does taste better.  In fact, it might help to re-educate people to the techniques of cooking that seem to have been largely forgotten these days.

It’s not difficult to put together a decent meal but so many people seem to have forgotten how in the culture shift that sees us microwave TV dinners rather than eating properly.  When I was young dinner was a social event, everyone at the table and talking, quite apart from the food which my mother regarded as a matter of pride.  Perhaps the secret to reacquainting Britons and the joys of eating lies in re-establishing good communications with families and, if you reduce it to core essentials, changing working patterns so people make time to sit and eat as a family.  Our lives are so busy we all eat at different times, which is a great shame.

Anyway, that’s enough griping for now.  Can I invite you all to enjoy your food today, and if you have time come round to my place for some proper home-cooked food! 😀

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