So what is all this about anyway….
What we are going to learn over the next few weeks is about so much more than just going to a cooking class. We are going to begin a journey that is about changing your lifestyle and the way you think about food as a part of your daily ritual, your cultural identity, and as a source of comfort. I am not going to teach you simply the recipes, there are thousands of cookbooks to do that for you, I am going to teach you the techniques that will allow you to build a culinary skill set. While I have been classically trained, the techniques I am going to teach you are not from that tradition; but from my own empirical work in the kitchen over the last three decades. Similarly, the recipes that you will take home with you are not like any you have ever worked with before. The ingredient list will probably contain a lot of items that you are unused to working with, but more importantly the techniques with which you treat each item are the key to making it taste they way you are used to my food tasting at Hobos. Like comfort food, rich, unabashedly soothing, comfort food with no apologies needed for cholesterol or calorie count. The key to what I do is taking food that is good for you and making it taste amazing. Making it taste amazing without adding animal products, transfats, sugar, preservatives, flavor enhancers, or in many cases gluten.
We have become so used to have our food mass produced in this country, that our taste buds have almost become inured to having our food prepackaged, preprepared, and almost seemingly predigested. The essential idea of this program if it could be stated in one simple sentence is to return to the source. If we were all of sudden teleported to the year 1900 what would we find? Well, to begin with, no type two diabetes; heart disease and cancer are almost unknown and high cholesterol…high what? Although, in truth, our national average life expectancy was much lower, the so called Western diseases had not begun to surface in any large quantities. At the end of WWII the baby boom was beginning, the era of American economic domination had begun and we were making the mass exodus from traditional agrarian lifestyles to an urban setting and industrial and technological revolution. The fact that I just grossly summed up foreign policy, national consciousness, and cultural identity in one sentence should not scare you anywhere near as much as what happened next: trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and the beginning of chemical preserving became the cure all answer for transporting mass quantities of food to urban centers without spoilage. Add the birth of McDonalds and Food Inc. is born. A billion dollar industry poised to control what you put in your mouth from the political arena to the grocery store aisle. So, what if you said no? What if you said, “I’m smarter than that. My body deserves better.” What would you eat?
Well, to begin with, imagine again that you were in this pre Big Mac industrialized-food-as-big-business-world and lived in an agrarian culture growing and bartering most of your sustenance. Vegetables would be fresh from the garden and abundant. Meat and animal products would be used, but very sparingly, in small quantities and as seasoning or flavoring not the base of every meal. Livestock would not be prophylactic ally treated with antibiotics or steroid enhanced. Animals would eat the food they were intended to by God and not just clear up man’s surplus corn. As a farmer you would work hard manual labor for many hours a day lowering your BMI and increasing metabolism so calorie counting would be superfluous. There would be sugar but a rare special treat. During the winter or fallow months you would eat more sparingly of preserved food (canned, salted, dried or oil packed) and dried meats and beans. Alcohol would be a rare indulgence for very special celebrations.
Now imagine you lived in any one of the identified “Blue Zones.” Blue Zones are areas of the world where the life expectancy far exceeds the norm in both quality and productivity. Blue Zones are always found in traditional cultural models rather than homogenous urban settings. Primarily, Blue Zone’s are agrarian, with diets that are predominately plant based and have a strong family unit and work ethic. There are more commonalities than differences with our pre Food Inc. world and Blue Zones but of the most important would be that most blue zone cultures have very little animal protein in their diet and that is predominantly seafood. Olive oil is utilized abundantly as the major fat source. For those of you that have red “The China Study,” you will know that the groundbreaking research of Dr. Campbell shows that the Standard American Diet (SAD) and consumption of high quantities of animal proteins are the primary culprits of death from the “diseases of affluence.” What we are doing is following the careful and painstaking research of this monumental nutritional study, putting it into a how to live in the real world context and making it taste good.
So to be incredibly simplistic we are turning back the clock with a few small changes. We are dismissing all the pseudoscience of the diet cultures in the last forty years and focusing on whole and complete foods. We are dismissing the faddism of the low fat/nonfat/high fat/low carb/no carb diets as so much nonsense and eating only foods that feed us completely body and soul. We are not depriving our bodies, constricting calories, or using food products that proclaim to be diet anything. We are moving our body to become atuned to its strength and energy, focusing on our support system as a replacement or supplement to the family unit, and replacing most of the food items currently found in our cupboard with ingredients in their raw and unadulterated form. Not only that, we are going to learn to be 21st century rock stars in the kitchen. All this in ten short weeks. Fasten your seatbelts boys and girls it’s going to be a wild ride.