Thoughts on the fullness of food

The class was seated in concentric arcs rippling out from the teacher’s bay – my small, rapt audience. I stood, apron-clad, earnestly explaining how they should go about following the recipe they were to cook in the subsequent lesson. Still new to teaching, I remember smiling to myself later that day as I pondered my own enacted cliché. Surely my first ‘scone demonstration’ was some sort of rite-of-passage. I imagined that now, truly, I had joined the long line of Home Economists and Food Technology Teachers who had gone before me. But the thing was, wry humour and derision aside, I had completely fallen for the whole experience.

Teaching meant a platform to share something you felt was important …

Teaching meant helping students understand how to use food to nourish and satisfy …

Teaching meant explaining how to rub butter though flour to my enthusiastic young cooks (so that the gluten did not get too strong and make their scones chewy!) …

What was not to love?

But before we go on, I need to take you back to the beginning. In this beginning there was a mum who lovingly packed years of healthy lunches and regularly called us to the family dinner table. There was a dad who baked bread, grew vegetables and read Michael Pollan. They say that, when it comes to children, ‘the apple never falls far from the tree’ and in my family, I am no real revolutionary – my own education in food began very young.

Mum would tell you that, for me, food has always meant business! From a young age I was hungry; first for food, but in time, also for a better understanding of what food is and means and does. Gradually school Food Technology lessons gave way to TAFE classes and University lectures. I began to understand that food uniquely speaks into a great many aspects of our lives as human beings. We are hungry, and not just for food.

We are hungry for healthy bodies and families.

We are hungry for friends and family to share life with – it’s celebrations and it’s grief.

We are hungry to express ourselves, creating beautiful things.

Beyond our own human hungers, food reminds us that we live connected, interdependent lives. Ecologically, biologically and culturally, it is impossible to extricate our need for food from the environmental and social impacts of its production. In a world awash with data, cash crops and fast food, we need a diversity of nourishing food conversations. Conversations informed by cookbook writers, food theologians, investigative journalists, nutritionists and market researchers.

Conversations about real food, cooking classes and recipes we want to try …

Conversations about family, community and sharing …

Conversations about nutrition, ecology and faith …

For me, teaching is a way of both initiating and participating in these conversations. I want share the wisdom of those who have gone before me, the things I have seen and heard, learnt and cooked. And so, that is what this space will be about. A place to tell truths about food, to celebrate its diversity and the way it brings joy into our lives.

What, indeed, is not to love?!


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