Back to Basics
The great and recently late poet Philip Levine bemoaned that poetry had become “institutionalized and neutralized” and that poets “should have turned and lived with animals”. I bemoan food in the same way. We have institutionalized our food sources and neutralized their health benefits with toxins and chemicals. And we no longer live with animals.
My farmhouse in Southern France has an original mangeoir in the kitchen where the animals grazed in centuries gone by. Friends coo over how quaint this manger is. Yet it also reminds me of a simple lifestyle that has been lost forever. What used to be a vital element of the household economy is now merely a receptacle for my gleaming inox pots and pans. Modern-day sophistication has rendered us into Marie Antoinette playing the pretty spectacle of ersatz farmhouse simplicity. And our meat comes plastic-wrapped.
Our elongated and chemically-infused food supply chain is one of our biggest 21st-century food challenges. Take salad for example. Phytonutrient-rich lettuce leaves, fresh from your organic vegetable garden have little in common with their plastic-bagged, supermarket counterparts. ‘Ready-to-eat’ bagged lettuce tends to have been covered in pesticides, then washed in chlorinated water (that’s more concentrated than your local municipal pool in order to ward off the serious risk of bacterial infections such as cryptosporidium, listeria and salmonella) and bagged, before travelling hundreds of miles to a supermarket and finally weeks later to your plate.
I miss simplicity, like I miss Levine. Luckily Monaco-based nutrition gurus Susan Tomassini and Naomi Buff have come to the rescue in promoting healthy dining across the principality. This month sees them helping various Monegasque restaurants to revolutionize their culinary approaches from food sourcing to nutrient-rich dishes.
Having flown all the way to New York to study at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Naomi Buff(a.k.a. Monaco’s queen of smoothies) is now working with chefs at the Monaco Restaurant Group (whose restaurants include Bouchon, Beef Bar, Mozza, Avenue 31 and La Saliére among others, http://www.mrg.mc) on how to maximize nutritional benefits in the food they serve. Grains such as quinoa are soaked overnight in kombu seaweed so that they sprout before cooking. You can be one of the first to taste Naomi’s gluten-free and refined-sugar-free dishes at selected MRG restaurants or you can catch one of her new workshops for yummy mummies at the Munchkins Club (www.mcmunchkinsclub.com).
Hot off the press also comes the news that knowledgeable nutritionist Susan Tomassini and her Clever Kitchen partner Melanie Gulliver have teamed up with Stars ‘N’ Bars (http://www.starsnbars.com). With Clever Kitchen-designed healthy dishes planned for Stars ‘N’ Bars’ new menu launch in April, this is the latest step in the iconic restaurant’s dramatic turnaround in bringing its menu up-to-date with healthy food trends following my December 2014 food column. With a BSc in nutrition from London’s BCNH, Susan also offers one-on-one personal consultations and online nutritional solutions (http://theclever.kitchen).