By Malcolm Jolley and Jamie Drummond
Jamie: I will always remember 2010 as the 12 months during which the previous 38 years of good eating and drinking finally caught up with me.
I deduced that this could be due to the onset of a number of prevailing factors:
- The delicious myriad complexities of getting older (the sudden realisation that one’s almost superhuman metabolism is beginning to finally slow down)
- A more sedentary profession (Working as a Sommelier I was more often than not upon my feet)
- One too many KFC Big Crunch Sandwiches being called to the aid of crushing hangovers (Yes, I know, ONE is too many!)
- The odd post-dinner ciggy
- The gradual physiological impact of having to attend innumerable Winemaker’s dinners and food events in the name of GFR
- Too many food decisions based upon convenience rather that thoughtfulness
- Or perhaps simply too many refreshing sups from the magical blue can of Munich (Read: Löwenbräu)
So, with all of the above in mind:
My 2011 Good Food Resolution: I have resolved to simply think a hell of a lot more carefully regarding everything I put in my mouth.
As my favourite cookbook writer Nigel Slater once said regarding the subject of New Year’s Resolutions:
“Where has this come from, what affect will this have on me, my well-being, and that of the environment?
Ten years ago this would all have sounded distinctly worthy, but today it just sounds like a blueprint for intelligent eating.“
Although it is not QUITE that simple… one has to take into account so many variables.
And so there are many sub-resolutions…
And in order to make the resolution (and subsequent sub-resolutions) achievable, it is essential to include quite a number of caveats.
Sub-Resolution A – I resolve to eat only local, naturally-raised meats.
I have been doing my very best to buy only from Rowe Farms, The Healthy Butcher, Oliffe’s, and Cumbrae’s, supporting local farmers, but living in the food desert that is deepest, darkest Parkdale I have often been guilty of shopping at some of the local (not-so) supermarkets. This has played sheer havoc with the Drummond home Food Policy in recent years. While we are at it, I probably need to cut back on my red meat ingestion too…
Caveat #A1 – I enjoy eating in a diverse selection of ethnic restaurants across the city, and so Sub-Resolution A is not applicable in these instances …as I am pretty sure that one would get oneself into a whole heap of trouble if one start inquiring as to the provenance of the ingredients in a number of my most favoured haunts.
Caveat #A2 – I feel that I should still be able to purchase the occasional chorizo and blood sausage from my closest Portuguese butcher shop, thereby supporting a local business.
Caveat #A3 – One word: Haggis.
Sub-Resolution B -I resolve to eat only local, organic fruits/vegetables/milk/eggs.
I have been doing my very best to buy only from Farmer’s Markets, Wholefoods, local organic grocery stores, and the like, supporting local farmers, but living in the food desert that is deepest, darkest Parkdale, and not driving, I have often been guilty of shopping at some of the local (not-so) supermarkets. This has also played sheer havoc with the Drummond home Food Policy in recent years. While we are at it, I probably need to ramp up my fruit and vegetable ingestion too…
Caveat #B1 – See Caveat #A1
Caveat #B2 – I really, really enjoy bananas.
Sub-Resolution C – I resolve to eat only fish and seafood deemed sustainable.
After years of fishes being in all my favourite dishes, the past couple of years has seen my intake be reduced to almost zero… Something that makes me very sad indeed… I used to be so very fond of sushi *sigh* The lack of information given by most fishmongers and supermarkets is downright criminal, and it is only recently that organisations such as Oceanwise and Seachoice have brought awareness of the issues to the restaurant environment. Saying that, February 2011 should see the opening of Dan Donovan’s (previously of Jamie Kennedy/Ontario’s Own) “Hooked” fishmongers in Leslieville… Toronto’s first sustainable fishmongers. My hopes are high.
Caveat #C1 – When back visiting Scotland, no trip is complete without a “fish supper” (haddock and chips) with brown sauce, preferably eaten directly from a newspaper wrapping whilst staggering down a cobbled street in Edinburgh at three in the morning.
Caveat #C2 – When being hosted by a winery in a foreign land it would simply be the height of bad manners to decline a platter of the local grilled delicacies from the ocean. Jamie: “So what kind of fish is this?” Winemaker: “Local fish, tasty fish” Jamie: “Alright then… Mmmmnnn… nice…”
Sub-Resolution D – I resolve to drink less, but better.
Now this could be interesting. As I rather cheekily documented for City Bites a few years back, “the demon drink” is truly a hazard of my chosen profession. I think that my major stumbling block is my ingestion of large volumes of strong beer pre and post winetasting. This is a matter that I have to take control of.
Caveat #D1 – Sub-resolution D does not apply when one is traveling outwith Toronto, i.e. Northern Ontario or the UK, as it is against the law to refuse a drink in such locales.
UPDATE: Today is January the 7th and I am sticking to my guns thus far… wish me luck!
Malcolm: I am not much one for New Year’s Resolutions or exercises in self-denial at any time of year, and since I am much, much younger than poor old Mr. Drummond, I will worry less about public renunciations of pints after wine tastings and that sort of thing than he seems presently to be. [Although, dear reader, I do promise to vigilantly police Mr. Drummond’s resolutions as, um, resolutely as I can with chiding, shaming and Cultural Revolution-style public rebukes carried forth with an extreme prejudice I am sure he will thank me for.]
But anyway, my great revelation of 2010 was that while I had been busying myself writing, photographing and videoing people cooking, I had managed somehow to do a lot less of it myself. Six years of professionally writing about cooking had perversely kept me from pursuing the thing I loved after hours.
This is not to say I don’t cook at least one meal a day – or part of it, as the Mrs. likes to cook as much as me and epicurean labours are thus distributed. It’s just that I realised I hadn’t expanded the repertoire much in the last few years. When there were only a handful of carefully acquired cookbooks that passed throught the doorway every year, I studied them like they were the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then, over the course of a few weekends, I’d try at least three or four recipes per book. Serious Richard Olney, Paula Wolfert, Alford & Duguid recipes (no Thomas Keller, though – I’m not insane). While I believe I have mastered calf’s liver with vinegar and onions, I am ashamed to admit it’s been a long time since I made a curry paste or even opened a can of coconut milk.
These days, I receive (with gratitude) half a dozen cookery books to review a month and more in high season. It’s a great perk of the job, but it’s also work. The reading of cookbooks from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday is an exercise in critical analysis – is this worth a write-up? Would GFR readers be interested in an interview with this author? Or is there something here that needs to be documented and brought forward, in case it’s being missed?. There’s still abslolute joy in leafing through a great cookbook. But they were more often left on the desk Friday evening, rather than being brought to the kitchen these past few years.
Paul McCartney once remarked something to the effect that he was lucky to be able to play for a living. I get that: it’s wonderful to work at what you love. The caveat – the danger – is the flip-side: when what you love becomes work. I am certainly not there, but I worry a little bit that I might think about cooking new and interesting things more than I actually do it.
So, my resolution for 2011 is simply to cook new things. I intend to ask for some help from the people around who are the best at what they do. Stay tuned…
And Happy New Year from both of us!
Jamie Drummond and Malcolm Jolley are the Good Food Resolutionaries who publish GFR, Canada’s good food and wine weekly newsite.