On styling and sauces

This post is really sort of a rehash of a conversation I had with a friend the other day.  I’ve recently become somewhat enamoured with the idea of a raw food diet.  That is, making sure as much of a  picture from http://healing.about.com/od/healernetwork/ig/Pictorial-Site-Index/Raw-Food-Diet.htmmeal as possible is uncooked fruit, veg, bran, wheat etc.  Obviously the two main issues with this diet are meat and white bread – two of my favourite cooked foods!  So I excuse them, because not eating meat is just stupid, and white bread tastes nice (and wheat bread tastes like sucking on sand).  And to any vegans I may have just insulted by claiming not eating meat is stupid, I apologise: I’m sorry that you’re stupid :)

So while I’m happily munching away on my raw carrots, lettuce etc (with a nicely grilled steak on the side), my friend heads out to a 10 course degustation dinner for two (all expenses courtesy of his work the lucky bastard).  And it makes me think: it’s all well and good to be reverting to hunter-gatherer cuisine Bear Grylls-style, but then what has been the point of the last several hundred years of evolution in our cooking abilities.  As far as I remember, Fred Flintstone never had a George Foreman grill.  And as I’m a firm believer in there not being such a thing as a step backwards, I set myself to musing to how to integrate these two ideas.

What I decided on was that flashy cooking is like styling a basic in dancing.  It’s fun, it’s showy, it adds something unique – but only if image from http://euro-quest.tripod.com/prague_swing_lindy_hop_dance_classes/ you don’t do it every time.  If a styled basic becomes your default it doesn’t look cool anymore, it looks like you’re a retard that can’t dance a basic properly.  If you keep always styling your basics, you end up being confusing and unpredictable.  But if you have a clean basic and throw a style in every now and again, it creates this ‘WOW’ factor.  Flashy cooking is like that.  Things like sauces, char-grilled vegetables, cheeseburgers, cabanossi and degustation menus – those sorts of things that couldn’t possibly count as a part of every healthy hunter-gatherer’s food sources – they’re styling.  Always eating cheeseburgers trains your body to be shit at digesting stuff (no pun intended).  Always cooking in strange and different ways (like I’ve been doing most of my life) throws your body’s energy levels into confusing and your sleep cycles all over the place.  But with a clean basic – raw food and meat – then adding all these extras every now and again is fantastic.

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