Week One: A Special Event
Food is one of the basic necessities that we all need for life’s sustenance. We all love food but only that which has been made real good! For me, living alone proves to be affecting my eating habits negatively in that my diet seems to be ridiculous and not healthy at all. I mean, nobody is around to help me decide and get me into the mood of cooking, so why bother? I know unhealthy eating habits and patterns lead to many health complications, so I decide its time for a personal intervention, and a fast one for the matter. With the weekend just around the corner, I invite a few friends over for dinner so that they could act as an impetus for me to do some healthy home cooking but first thing first, there is need to decide on the meal I need to prepare, then go out for some shopping. My love for rice and beef pushes me to settle for mashed potatoes, beef and gravy, peas, rice pudding with raisins and fruit punch. At around 4 p.m., I am off to the butcher and grocery shop as I go to buy the ingredients needed for the meal preparation and the experience is quite educational. Many people seem to enjoy beef as much as I have gathered from the simple statistics I compile at the butchery, the market is crowded with many buyers out to get fresh fruits and vegetables, and the prices too are due to the fall in supply of vegetables that are out of season.
Since I have to do the cooking alone, I put on some soft music to get me in the mood and what wonders it works! I break out the fine dishes, cutlery and stemware that have received its fair share of neglecting, clean it up and set the table for a candlelit dinner. The food is excellent (I must say am quite proud of myself) and the whole dinner experience brings back my childhood memories of the family dinner sessions that we did together around my mother’s cooking and as I slowly sip away my fruit punch, I cannot help but miss them.
Week Two: Grow Something to Eat
My mom has a garden in which she does a bit of farming though I have never had the opportunity to do it myself. With the craving for her meals still deep within me, and the high prices of vegetables prevalent in the market, I decide to do some bit of vegetable gardening in containers. First, I pick up books and manuals on food growing in containers and finally settle for radishes and lettuce since they need a short time to mature. According to Cailein (2001), synthetic “soils” are the best for container planting so I get some potting soil from the store together with the seeds needed. As for the containers, two large milk jugs (both gifts from my eldest sister living upcountry) did the trick. After soaking the soil with water in the containers, it was now time to plant in the seeds according to the planting instructions given on the packets and then label the jars in order to be able to distinguish them. Finally, I transport them to a semi lit corner of the kitchen because both plants just require partial light. Now, all I had to do was sit back and wait for a few weeks for them to germinate and mature.
Week Three: Restaurant Visit
The plants have germinated, first the radish closely followed by the lettuce and how fulfilling it is to have grown some plants for the first time in my entire life! I check on them in the mornings and evenings as I water them and assess them for any kind of disease or pest attack. At the moment, all is well. Meeting a friend later for lunch after the morning service by the Chinese Restaurant located down town. The place is heavily decorated with dark lacquered furniture, ornate lanterns and Chinese writings on the walls. I pick an order of Chinese fried rice – which incorporates chopped up meats, mainly pork- and to my delight is served in Chinese ware accompanied by chopsticks. Having never used the sticks before, it proved quite an up hill task for me and my friend had to teach me the basics of holding them to how the eating process is.
The taste of the food was also new to me and so were the spices used but after a while, I got used to it and actually started enjoying it. At last, I had to settle for a spoon as the chopping sticks were not proving to be fruitful in any way and at the speed, I was working my food at, it would probably take a whole day to finish my serving.
Week Four: Shopping
With my younger sister coming over for a visit, am badly in need of some shopping. The supermarket as I know is a one-stopover market where every thing to do with food and other items can be found. No wonder it is a super market! As soon as I walk in my heart sinks in. The traffic inside is bad just as any modern city roads. The less time spent here the better it will for me. Grabbing a trolley, I hurriedly head to the household items section and decide to finish off with the green groceries. Five minutes later, am through with that part and now head for the groceries. The first thing I reach out for are the apples and what a shock when I find them to be actually not in such a good condition. I cannot help but wonder how long they have stayed on the shelves but one thing is quite clear to me that am never shopping here again for vegetables. Trust takes a long time to be built, yet one single instance to be broken and mending it is a really hard task.
Week Five: Food and the City
Small sister has taken good care of the plants and house and so I decide to take her to the city as a way of thanking her. We check in to our hotel room at ten for the whole weekend and just across the street lies a famous food precinct, which we decide to visit after unpacking. Being lunchtime, we order braised beef cheeks with winter vegetables with a Moroccan carrot, citrus and orange salad. The afternoon is spent up and down the city visiting museums and recreational centers. For supper we have room service consisting of beef and pork meatloaf with tomato sauce and a stir-fry of seasonal vegetables and tofu that we make the hotel pick for us from another nearby precinct as a way of experimenting which of the two places had superior food than the other (Alan & Saberi, 2002). To our surprise, both managed to make lasting impressions on us but we concluded that the eating ambience provided in the precinct far more outweighed eating in the closure of a room.
Week Six: Provisioning the City
On the first day of the week before leaving the city, our last visit is spent at a farmer’s market as I decide to pick a few items home with me. Buyers outweigh the sellers in number and all the produce available at the different stalls are all filled with foods that are in season, which means they are absolutely fresh. Food is strictly organic and the market proves to be not only a place to learn about farming, but also interesting insights about food since most of the sellers have cooking ideas for what they produce. This activity could be promoted as a tourist activity with the organization of cooking demonstrations dealing with different recipes or different ways of cooking the same meal (Mette, Hjalager & Greg, 2002).
Week Seven: Food and the Media
As we get back home, the plants looks a bit withered due to lack of water the whole weekend we were out but the radish has matured and we prepare it for dinner. The lettuce has a week or so to go and I just add some more water to them. Food programs are a major occurrence on television today. In a bid to add a few recipes to my existing ones, I decide to get opinions from other people on meal preparations and so I decide to watch all available television cooking shows (which are two) and the amount of information I get from them is much. I note all the recipes and cooking methods in my notebook and try them out as often as possible. I also try out an online food experience where an individual is allowed to enjoy a food experience without paying for the food itself. I preferred television-cooking lessons because they are a bit interactive as members of the audience present in the studio can ask questions and it is not hard to access a television set at any time. The concept of gastro porn describes a book or magazine laden with pictures of good food that it just leaves you craving for more (Counihan & Van, 1997).
The hospitality and hotel industry can use the internet to promote the sampling tastes of people by creating virtual cooking rooms and experiences that are a bit more real. With the use of 3D concept, it is easy to achieve this. The virtual experiences should take them through a whole cooking experience which is more consumer friendly and more interactive to ensure alertness is present at all times and avoid boredom.
Week Eight: Food in my life
From these food experiences and after reading Terry Durack’s list of “20 food experiences you must have before you die”, I managed to come up with a list of my own things too and they are:
-Eating roasted lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread so that I could have a Passover experience
-Harvesting honey from a beehive so that I may eat smoked honey and feel if it tastes different
-Eat a kilogram of pop corns and see how far I would go and if I would get satisfied
-An omelet made with an ostrich egg just for the fun of it.
-Drink camel’s milk to see how nutritious it is.
Alan, D., & Saberi, H., The wilder shores of gastronomy: twenty years of the best food writing from the journal Petits propos culinaires, Kingston, Ten Speed Press, 2002
Cailein, G., European gastronomy into the 21st century, Woburn, MA: B South Frontenac, ON, Canadautterworth-Heinemann, 2001
Counihan, C., & Van Esterik, P., Food and culture: a reader, South Frontenac, ON, Canada Routledge, 1997
Mette, A., Hjalager, F., & Greg, R., Tourism and gastronomy, South Frontenac, ON, Canada, Routledge, 2002