Opinion: Mouthwatering viewing food for thought
I am writing this column watching an episode of the latest series of a competitive cooking program.
I just love watching chefs at work — not only what they do with food, but where the food and ideas come from.
In fact, cooking has always been something I have been interested in, so now we are living in the age of the celebrity chef, I am, simply, in my element.
Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Luke Nguyen, and, of course, Nigella Lawson all inspire me.
And it’s their individual spin that creates the interest.
I think Oliver’s persistence in making cooking look simple and fun has been responsible for getting a lot of fellas into the kitchen, while Stein’s journeys through Europe and Asia combine cooking and the exotic.
Nguyen is an Australian with a Vietnamese background, and due to this, he is the essence of modern Australian fusion cuisine.
While being well versed in great Asian dishes, Nguyen takes the traditional and adds a modern twist.
Like Stein, he also introduces his audience to flavour in a subtle way, by visiting places where the ingredients come from or are made.
From the markets on the streets of Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City to the fields of rural Italy and the waters around Greece — they take us to all those places.
So you see, it’s not just the food, but the story of the food that grabs my attention.
It could be a simple fish and tomato dish from the Aegean, a thick barbecued Tuscan steak from a remote farm, or the famous pho from the streets of Hanoi.
There is no doubt culture and food go hand-in-hand.
This is no more apparent than with those Italian masters of the kitchen, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.
Carluccio is no longer with us, but he and Contaldo can be attributed, in many ways, to making, firstly, the British, and then the rest of the world, fall in love with Italian fare.
In fact, Oliver plied his trade in Contaldo’s kitchen.
Well, I’ve watched and read a lot about the two, but it was their gastronomic road trips through Italy that were a highlight.
In one television series, they travelled from top to bottom, stopping along the way at any place they wanted.
On one occasion, they stopped on the side of the road to pick some figs and then set up a makeshift kitchen to produce a tart.
Another time, Carluccio and Contaldo visited a butcher in Bologna, and bought bulls’ testicles, and went on to the butcher’s home to cook them in breadcrumbs and olive oil.
Yes, I enjoyed the cooking aspect, but the fun and laughter along the way is certainly what made it worth watching.
So, can you see why I secretly would like to be a celebrity chef?
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails