I’m convinced that every individual has a genetic built in food shopping psyche Some of you have the ‘Get me in Get me out,’ kind of personality that will be the classic supermarket dasher, God forbid if there was any promotional stands in the way of these hurricane like shoppers. They are programed on a regular tick list that allows for no ingredient excitement in their sniper like attack to the food shelves. Cereal- done, regular tea bags – done…you get my drift…these lot are not excited by pomegranate molasses or handmade gnocchi…if they even care about what gnocchi is.
Well, then, there’s the foodies like me. A teeth wrenching nightmare to the GMIGMO clan. You see, I love food shopping and I really do make quite an event of it. Now, I’m going to admit, I have a partial kinship with my fellow food shopping haters. I also do shop at these same supermarkets BUT seriously, I’m not remotely excited by the droll, mechanical, commercial mass produced products that feature heavily in most outlets (although once in a blue moon, I do over react slightly if there is anything barely of any authenticity).
For me to feel great about my cooking, I need to feel really excited about the ingredients I’m buying, and THAT, is what makes me the queen of the wandering, browsing, artisan food shopping movement. I LOVE my markets and to top that, small specialist artisan food suppliers. GO LOCO ON GOING LOCAL. Check out your local market, browse, wander, taste, touch, smell, take in all the senses of everything around you. Get excited about cooking with a new fruit or vegetable or a different cut of meat. Talk to the suppliers, ask questions, as simple or as trivial as you might think it is, just go on and ask.
Cooking for me is not just about being glued to the stove and mechanically turning out dishes…it’s about connecting with the rest of the world in so many different ways, because FOOD is the one thing that we all have to have in common. Just the other day, I was at my local fishmongers, a great little place with the best catch outside of Mombasa. I always ask what the catch of the day is, or even better, what is everyone buying. I was standing diligently at the counter watching my squid being cleaned with keen concentration, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw the sweetest old lady delicately pick out the most stunning turquoise blue, saffron spotted parrot fish, and I’m sure I saw a little glint of self satisfaction in her eyes and a prompt self congratulating smile. In a second I was beside her…”excuse me love, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how are you gong to cook that tonite?” I’ve never seen a little old lady smile so widely and in a hushed whisper, she gave me her recipe.
Anywhere you are in the world, if you want to understand the culture better or get a clearer sense of Place—visit the local markets, visit farms and local producers. Taste the wine and sample the cheeses…buy fruits that might look bizarre to you, stock up on local spices, flavours, condiments, chutneys and sundry! What a better way to preserve a beautiful memory of that special meal you had in the heart of the Atlas mountains, when you look at your spice shelf and see a little hessian sack of rose petal scented Moroocan spices? Cuisine is an ingrained part of any culture and unravels histories as you explore it more.
More importantly than all this, support your local farmers. Why do we keep buying imported fruits and vegetables when most of the shelves in Europe are full to the brim with our Kenyan produce? Support the local organic farmer, make an effort to go to the markets and look at the difference in the organic quality of their produce.
Every week, I will pick a particular supplier that is exhibiting fantastic quality in their produce. Whether it’s a flavored oil, jam, fruit, vegetable or meat, this is going to be the site to find the latest hot ingredient in Kenya and we are going to keep it LOCAL!