I must start by thanking all of you for your humorous, constructive, and carefully considered suggestions for my next challenge. I initially suggested that I would put a final shortlist to the vote. Perhaps this would be more fair, more democratic, more brave even. But ultimately I want a project that will enrich my understanding of food and of cooking. Gruesome as it was, the raw vegan diet forced me to think outside my comfort zone regarding the essential matter of cooking and eating – and that can only be a good thing.
So Fiona Beckett’s suggestion that I live on Floyd for a week, while tempting, would be far too easy, and rather too close to my own gastronomic proclivities. Georgia’s idea of only cooking food that appears in song lyrics was particularly alluring – I loved the idea of having a playlist that was linked directly to what I was eating that week. But it still wasn’t trying enough.
I loved Ms. Alex’s suggestion of throwing a dice to determine each meal – 3 nice options, 3 nasty. This might be one for the future. But for the time being it is the mysterious ‘Nibbles’ who has won my vote. This was their suggestion:
“Work your way round your local international delis/corner shops to find unusual ingredients. On many local high streets now you can find Turkish, Polish, Italian, Chinese, Asian, Halal… There is so much choice in Britain’s ever more multicultural society. But most Brits don’t know what ingredients to buy or what they can cook with them. It would be cool if you showed us how we can make use of this choice and add a dash of culinary mix to complement our cultural mix.” .
How often do we shy away from strange ingredients? The same ones, again and again. How often do we feel intimidated because something is unfamiliar? I talk a lot about trying to get my friends out of their ‘comfort zones’, but, truth be told, I rarely saunter out of mine. Of course I try new ingredients – ox cheek, ackee, pig’s ear, fish sperm (seriously) – but I tend to cook them in ways I am comfortable with, alongside familiar ingredients.
Every day for all of next week I will cook something that I have never cooked or eaten before. Perhaps we will all learn something. In the meantime, I want you to tell me which ingredients you’re scared of, or, if you are feeling vindictive, dare me to go for something truly alarming. Roasted baboon, anyone?