Recipes are more than just food and taste. Traditional recipes, like those in the book from the 19th and 20th Century, are actually hiding small stories. They contain traces of interaction and influence made by nature, human creativity, religious decrees, conflicts, technology, preferences, traditions, migration and trade paradigms. About ways of living. About values. About experiences and knowledge. All those perspectives that History allows!
The experiences the clipfish book is telling about brings reflections on trade routes and are showing how men traveled far, crossing oceans. It tells us that the ocean wasn’t understood as an obstacle but a link. A link between coasts and a link between people living along shores wherever on the planet. The ocean connected people and defined their destinies. They shared knowledge and experiences despite different languages, cultural habits and religion. They didn’t concern themselves about “my culture or your culture” but they connected at the lowest common multiple. Curious people that dared to travel. Imaginative people that developed innovations, also in food and gastronomy. We can call it innovations, right? Mixing known herbs with ”unknown” fruits in the new world in the 19th Century – why shouldn’t that be considered as innovative? People creating new traditions and new identities mixing the known with the unknown – more or less as do immigrants today.
Yes, the ocean mattered in those days – today it has become a huge rubbish bin!
Learning from clipfish recipes
Looking at the details in the clipfish recipes – learning what to look for, definitely taught me to search the living in each ingredient. I learned that I should smell the vegetables, the lemons and the garlic. Does it smell? I learned to feel the weight. The heavier, the more liquid inside the plant or the root. Is the colour bright? The fresher and tastier! Is it straight and upright, like a happy curious child? The fresher and healthier! Is it ecological? You know why that’s important? If so, the plant had to fight herself the threats of nature. That makes her strong – a strength that’s good for me when I use her to make food. So, yes – I want the eco-plants. Also because the farmers will have to work on the plants premises, plants can’t be abused. Some Norwegian manufacturers choose not to go ECO, but they are still very serious. They give me information on the labels on how they are working. I choose to trust them – sometimes I call them to ask how they work. I’m interested in food and food production. It’s a question of being responsible.
Approach: Going close
The mission given to the photographer in this book was GO CLOSE – show me that food is LIFE! Make me feel it! What an answer he gave! Look at the photos; watching the tomato picture – I saw the newborn baby when he showed me the floss on the petiole – it made me feel so soft, and caring – grateful – joyful! I ask the graphic designer to make me a huge poster! Looking at parsley – and it’s ”vascular system” – the transport system for fluids in the plant – like this planet’s rivers or human beings’ veins, how could I not think of the similarities and all what we share – all organisms? How could I not ”bond” with plants as living organisms? The photographers ”speech” tells us about our common fellowship with the plants, as we’ve got fellowship with animals, maybe easier to perceive. Thinking of all this, feeling it – I find it harder to think of plants and food as ”objects” that I can buy and throw if I don’t bother to use it. They are organisms, they are living – it’s life. Here to serve me, and therefore these organisms earn my respect. I mean this. This was understood by indigenous people – and lost by us somewhere along the way. To change our attitudes towards nature, plants, and food as consumer goods we can buy and throw away whenever or whatever just because we can – because we have money – that’s our problem– we need to change attitudes.
Here’s your homework
Listening to the politicians, the glitterati and all those who want to save the planet – which is all fine and good – I’ve been concerned with what I CAN DO AT HOME!
Number one – changing my attitudes – teaching kids about all food as life – making food that can stay in the fridge one or two days – so that leftovers can be used! These small things – that in the end are going to change the big picture!
Watching and listening to the photographers ”speech” in the clipfish book might be helpful, might be motivating. We cannot abuse more. The planet will not allow us. We talk about saving the planet – but in fact we need to save ourselves – the planet will survive as it did the last 5 billion years – WE ARE THE GUESTS HERE!