It may come as no surprise that I love being in the kitchen. It is a place for me to relax and be creative. When I am in the kitchen it is as if time stops. I can spend hours and hours in there and not even realise that any time has passed. Some of my greatest ideas and plans have come to me while I have been mindlessly pottering around the kitchen.
I have a very big space in my heart for home cooked food. Nothing makes me happier than coming home and being greeted with a beautiful aroma coming from the kitchen. I have been incredibly blessed to have grown up in a family where eating at home was almost a daily ritual. Meal times, especially dinner, were always family time for us. It was a time to talk and share ideas.
There has been an additional ritual added to meal times… photos. It has gotten to the point that when Bruno and I go out to eat he knows to patiently wait for me to get a picture. He even rearranges the table to ensure everything is in the right place just before the photo is taken. I like to think this is a fairly quick operation. I can't say the same when I am taking a picture for the blog. Usually we have to prepare the food at optimum time to ensure the lighting is good. My sister is standing on chairs, with her legs a metre and a half apart leaning over with the camera in one hand. I am making adjustments to the plate. All to get a great shot. The reality is that when we go inside and mix it all together and actually EAT it doesn’t look anything like the photo.
I was someone who started on a health and fitness journey when it wasn’t really big on social media. I kind of just took a few of the mixed messages I received from television and the internet and pieced them together to create my own little restrictive hell. I have great sympathy for those transitioning these days. For me, restriction did not work. The more I thought I couldn’t have something the stronger my desire grew to have it. Part of the reason I started nutrition was to develop an understanding about what all foods can do to BENEFIT us.
“I prefer to concentrate to what I add to my diet and not what I take away and that to me seems to be a much happier way of looking at it.” – Nigella Lawson.
Dieting made me frightened of food. Sure it was definitely a positive thing that I stopped eating so many processed foods but when I started cutting out whole foods that I had been consuming my whole life I knew there was definitely a problem. I feel like sometimes when I scroll through my Instagram feed I just keep seeing the same thing. It is always a perfectly decorated smoothie bowl or an immaculate salad. I had to start following some Italian food pages just to get some variety back into my feed. It is only natural when starting out on a health journey to follow nutritionists and other health and wellness personalities. But I fear sometimes that they give the impression that all food needs to be ‘clean’ and ‘photogenic.’ It really makes me upset when I see whole foods, such as bananas and wholegrain bread, start getting a bad reputation for being "too high in carbs."
I follow a lot of food pages (shocker). I see hundreds of pictures of food every day. A hashtag that I commonly stumble across is ‘clean’ (which, doesn’t normally come up on the pasta photos). ‘Clean’ has a few different meanings, so I will give you a couple of examples. For some it simply means whole foods without additives. For others it means dairy free, gluten free and soy free. For some it literally just means some spinach leaves. I have decided that I don’t like the word ‘clean’ when it comes to food. I think that it implies that some food is ‘dirty’ and I definitely don’t want to demonise any foods.
“Calling it ‘clean eating’ does to me imply that everything else is ‘dirty’ and ‘shameful’ and I think food shaming is pernicious.” – Nigella Lawson.
I am a home cook. I don’t do anything fancy. I just want beautiful wholesome food that I can share with my family and friends that I know they will enjoy. Sure, sometimes I will get lucky and happen to make something that looks incredibly beautiful, but I can assure you it was either by accident or it took time. There is no in between. I worry that people are scared to cook for fear that it won’t look like the photo.
My Nonna invited the entire extended family over for dinner last Sunday night. I was talking to my Zia at the table about something and then we suddenly got to reminiscing. We talked about all the incredible home cooked meals Nonna has prepared in the past that we haven’t had in such a long time. We remembered the chicken and onion pasties, the fried cauliflower, the arancini, the potato croquettes and so many other family favourites. Needless to say we got a whole new appetite after that conversation. The moral of that story was that none of that incredibly DELICIOUS food is by Instagram standards ‘photogenic.’
“When I post a picture of a stew, I feel I have to remind people – who find the messy brownness unappealing – that 1) stews are brown and 2) brown food tastes the best. It doesn’t really matter to me whether people post pictures of stews on Instagram or Pinterest, but it does worry me if they stop cooking them. Not because it would be a bad thing, but because it would be a sad thing.” – Nigella Lawson.
As a food blogger I do feel the pressure sometimes, in such a competitive industry, to post really appealing pictures. But I think I have lost sight of what my real dream is. I want to share my love and passion for food in the hope that it inspires others to get into the kitchen. I think it is an incredible act of kindness to cook for ourselves and fuel our bodies with home cooked foods. The part where I think I got confused was in thinking that everything I make has to look perfect.
When I share a recipe with you I want to guarantee that you are going to be able to recreate it at home. I try and use simple ingredients that a lot of people have as their pantry staples. Food, however, is forever evolving. Australia is a wonderful example of multiculturalism. You can walk down a main street and see Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, Greek and Indian restaurants. I love experimenting in the kitchen with all types of cuisines. Sometimes I will look at a recipe for inspiration and will be missing a couple of things so I will substitute it for other things that I have on hand. That to me is what it’s all about. It is about having FUN, EXPERIMENTING and trying NEW things. That is when some of my best recipes have come about.
“We are not always trying to replicate a traditional recipe, but allowing ourselves to be inspired by it.” – Nigella Lawson.
Most night’s dinner at our house isn’t glamourous at all. It is simple. It is delicious. It is home food. I am making it my new goal to share some of my less attractive looking food on Instagram. I am constantly trying new things and adapting old recipes. My message to you is to not be afraid. Work with what you have and just give it a TRY, that to me is the joy of it.