Think about your food experiences when dining out. Dishes are prepared and finalised to look like artwork. Flavours are at the ultimate level of balance and delicacy, and very often the ‘wow’ factor comes from challenging the eye and the palate. It’s the sophistication of the French cuisine interpreted with the modern response of innovation.
But sometimes, aren’t you a bit tired of the gourmet lifestyle?
At times, I get this sensation that there is so much cooking with designing performance that it can miss hearty aspects.
Don’t get me wrong. I can’t deny that I love this gourmetization, I really do. I bow to the top chefs who can explore their craft in a close conversation with the arts and I often look for exciting, fresh and outrageous gourmet experiences; but in the last few years, I have been getting annoyed by how every food experience suddenly becomes ultimately about design, beauty, and hide and seek tasting surprises. Some attempts make sense, but others start to feel pretentious and unnecessary.
Are we forgetting the pleasure of digging in a pan full of rich flavours by concentrating our foodie moments in eating solely a piece of art?
Sharing a big pot is inclusive
It is fact that this solely art style has somewhat changed. Some of my favourite spots in London urge you to forget about the self-indulgence of ordering one plate all to yourself. They are based on the concept of sharing and tasting more through choosing a vast selection of small plates. It’s just delightful to see the table suddenly full of food soon be emptied by forks crawling over the top.
During these meals, there’s an interesting exercise of humane characteristics going on.
Consider the last bite. You just had a little piece of everything. As politeness takes over, there might be a spoon left. Who gets to keep the last bite of their favourite dish? You now have to think, ask, and discuss with the rest of your party about who gets what. This food dynamic requires from people generosity and the ability to share. ‘Sharing is the new caring’ I would say a couple years ago.
However, what really fascinates me in terms of taste and human experience is the meal with one big pot in the middle of the table as a shining star.
There is an inevitable aroma that comes from the hot pot that functions as an invitation to gather people around it. It’s the first calling for the senses. Then comes the visual aspect. Beauty is expressed with ingredients melting into each other. One colour or a few tones on top. Hard to resist.
With it comes the social predicament: How do you perceive your turn? Are you the first in the queue? Are you patient? I honestly recommend you to wait. Watch people dig in with their eyes and spoons. Probably, they will look at you with a smile afterwards.
There are even so many points of contact. If you are the one serving others, you probably will ask if the amount is enough and the answer might tell you so many things about that person in that moment. If you are doing the digging for yourself, probably will be looking for the dishes’ soul. What’s the best part? How much sauce you want?
A one pot dish has so much going on in itself. Balance, flavours and all that jazz that happens in the gourmet art style that I mentioned above, but its difference is that it is inclusive. There is always enough for one more portion, one more person. Also, there is a range of interactions between everybody involved.
In fact, this one pot interaction and inclusivity fascinated me so much it is one of the reasons I created this experiential venture, Cooking New Stories. I wanted to spread this idea of a warm all-embracing food community sharing similar likes and incredible stories from one distinctive pot.