Editor's Letter

Editor’s Letter: Has the spark gone?

Every week there are 220+ hours of cookery tv shows available for our entertainment – yet in 2015 we spent, on average, less than six hours making ourselves something to eat. We buy recipe books, pour over cooking blogs, have smart appliances and keep a close eye on food trends – yet this time isn’t translating to our tables.

Saying that – for those of us that work a 40-hour week, topped with an entertaining commute, spending an hour every day in the kitchen when we get home is pretty impressive. Or is that before we even leave the house?! I can’t be the only one who gives in to a swift stirfry with spring rolls?

Photo credit: Hermes Rivera

But it’s not the time spent in the kitchen that’s worrying me – it’s the rotation of the same old dishes, same old ingredients.

1 in 4 people in the UK can only cook three recipes. 1 in 8 avoid cooking from scratch. We have memorised a handful of dishes, and stick to them week on week.

Where did our enthusiasm for cooking go? Where did our inspiration for trying new ingredients disappear to? Are we all working too hard, are too wrapped up in our lives, too busy with modern life to explore past those first few familiar pages in the recipe books?

Photo credit: Ella Olsson

Food trends have changed dramatically over the years – we’ve dropped liver in favour of jackfruit, prefer pizza over white fish. We’re even drinking less tea! And it’s not just what we’re eating – it’s where it’s being sourced that’s bothering us. A government study in 2017 showed that 46% of respondents thought British food tasted better, and 43% bought British food whenever possible. Big companies are moving into towns and cities and choosing local producers for their coffee, wine and basic ingredients like bread, milk and cheese – which is fantastic to see, and reminds us that the monotony of the weekly shop can sometimes make us forget how much we care about where our food comes from.

Photo credit: Stefan Johnson

We’ve Maria Kondo‘d our homes – why not our meals, too? If what we’re eating isn’t bringing us joy, if we don’t travel home looking forward to whipping up dinner, or jump out of the shower excited to put together our breakfast, is something wrong? OK, it might seem a bit over the top to get quite that excited about granola, but you get what I mean.

Photo credit: Jennifer Pallian

So how can we get that spark back? Like a tired marriage, it’s time to re-kindle our love with ingredients. Explore your local corner shop (you’ll be surprised how many have exciting treasures tucked in the back), ask a friend what they’ll be cooking this week for some inspiration, and pick a cuisine you have never tried before – even one that makes you turn your nose up! You never know, you might stumble across your next favourite food.

And if all else fails, rum is supposed to be taking over gin in popularity this year, so you can always wash down your disaster dish with a small batch rum from a local producer – it’s not all from the Caribbean!

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