The Joy of Cooking

November 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am, by many accounts, a relativist. There is little stable ground in my world. Much is up for grabs, worth considering and second guessing because some morsel of information usually comes along and shifts my perspective.

I would be a terrible activist. Much of how I see the world are visions of a messy ball; a connected system that is mostly ignorant of its connectedness. I see misguided motives and good intentions. I see unintended consequences and externalities. YES, there are certain things I believe in and I wholeheartedly stand by as certain moral truths. I am a big, big fan of timely aphorisms. A favorite, practiced regularly by my husband, is “it is what it is”.  It offers me much relief when I just need to stop relativizing.

The other day, my garlic chopping for a carrot pesto was coincidentally accompanied by a garlic nutrition tip from Jo Robinson, the author of Eating on the Wild Side. She was discussing with Lynn on the Splendid Table how garlic’s healthy compounds are released once they are chopped. She suggested letting garlic sit ten minutes before putting it on heat so its health benefits could be maximized.

For a moderate relativist like me nutrition is cracking open Pandora’s Box – i.e. does a cold tomato that I eat on an empty stomach after a workout have a different effect on my body than a room temperature tomato after just waking up and drinking a cup of coffee? And where were these tomatoes grown – more specifically, in what kind of soil? Were any pesticides used? When were they picked? Now expand this line of thinking to everyone so you also have to take into account that each one of our bodies is physically different. Variables as far as the eye can see. How is anything ever concluded in the nutrition world?

So, actually, I would be a terrible activist and a terrible nutritionist because I would probably vociferously quote Julie Child, “everything in moderation, including moderation,” until they fired me for not doing my job.

There is a reason there’s a book called “The Joy of Cooking” and there is not a book called “The Joy of Nutrition”. Cooking is not nutrition. The distinction there is monumental for me. Cooking is a series of movements that result in, usually, something edible. There is nothing relative about putting chopped potatoes with garlic and onions in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. There is just delicious, roasted potatoes. It simply is what it is.


Carrot Pesto

-The carrot pesto was an impulsive affair. I was making lettuce wraps filled with a greek-inspired quinoa salad and wanted to add a punch to it. I added two carrots to an immersion blender with some olive oil, a garlic clove and a few sprigs of mint, salt and pepper and I pulsed away until it had the consistency of pesto. I’m sure if I had a lemon on hand I would have added a few drips from it. Some pine nuts would have been a nice addition as well. Next time.


– Food Politics, one of the regular blogs I read, published a great write-up on the newly published nutrition guidelines for Brazil. Her title says it all “Brazilian dietary guidelines are based on foods, food patterns, and meals, not nutrients”. I especially love number 10 on the list.

– A TED Talk on Unintended Consequences.



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