By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
They say you can taste the difference in a meal cooked with love and nowhere is that demonstrated more powerfully than in the book "Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel. In the book, the central character Tita's passion surfaces through her cooking when she makes a dish with rose petal sauce using a rose given to her secretly by Pedro, the man she deeply loved. The meal receives an ecstatic response from Tita's family members, especially Pedro, and throughout the dinner, Tita and Pedro stare at each other, entranced. For her sister the meal aroused an insatiable sexual desire, and you'll have to read the book or watch the movie to find out what happens. My point is that food can stir emotions and when you consider how much goes into the production of fresh food you can understand why.
Our Valentine's Day recipe for today Fresh Fig with Basil and Parmesan Pasta is a simple but stunning meal that incorporates wholewheat pasta, garlic, olive oil, chilli, basil, lemons, figs, pine nuts and parmesan. It's super quick to make which is a bonus for us, but when you consider how long it takes for the ingredients to reach your kitchen that's an entirely different story.
Take pine nuts for example; to native Americans they represent wisdom and longevity, to other cultures, they represent fertility and life. Most pine nuts take around 18 months to harvest, but some can take up to three years. And it's not just the length of time it takes for these trees to bear fruit, they are also incredibly hard to harvest. The seeds are painstakingly separated by hand, a job that requires time and a great deal of patience.
The fig tree takes between 2 - 3 years from planting to bear fruit and unlike many other fruits it will not ripen after it's been picked from the tree which makes the harvesting process a much more delicate affair. The ripe fruit is soft to touch, bruises very easily and can only be stored for a few days in the fridge before it perishes.
Have a read of what goes into href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmigiano-Reggiano#Production" target="_blank"> the making of Parmesan Regiano if you want another example of a labour of love. Referred to as the King of Cheeses, this cheese that takes us a few seconds to grate and sprinkle over a dish, takes 12 months to mature and 1,100 litres of milk to produce two 45 kg cheeses.
These are just three ingredients used in a simple recipe which takes about 20 minutes to cook that can take up to 6 years to produce.
When you consider, everything that goes into a meal made with love; from the plates the food is served on, the table setting laid to sit at, the effort to buy the ingredients, to earn the money to pay for the food, right the way down to the effort and time from people who produced the food it gives it all more meaning and significance and reminds us that we are all connected in this great world.
It's also a greater gesture of love than handing someone a heart-shaped foil balloon.
Happy Valentine's Day
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