Working as a Bartender in a place that includes a fancy restaurant means that I am constantly surrounded by inspirational chefs and kitchen masterminds. “Giselle, you’re hungry? Try this.” And all of a sudden I have a quinoa, grape, balsamic glazed, something-or-other in my mouth that is so simple and so delicious. The way that different flavours work together is something I don’t understand and am astounded by every time.
It’s also something that I know nothing about. I found a book called “The Third Plate” and it began to shift my perspective on food. Not just what is in my food and how I get it, but what I’m choosing to eat and how I form my ideal plate of food. It’s written by Dan Barber, a New York chef who spends his time cooking, surveying farms and lecturing on his new ideas. He wants people to think about what they consume starting with wheat. It’s on most tables and is hardly considered when someone thinks “is my food organic?” Dan challenges you to think deeper about your food. Is this 3$ packaged bread as tasty as a fresh loaf from a bakery? And even then, is the bakery utilizing the same types of wheat as the 3$ loaf or is it utilizing an older grain that’s better for the soil, better for us and incredibly tasty?
If, as consumers, we choose a certain type of dinner plate every time, the farmers and food production of the world can be fully supported, little wasted, and everyone [from worms in the soil to humans at a dinner table] will be healthier for it. The ‘third plate’ minimizes meat consumption, increases the amount of vegetables, and is sustainable.
This book was thick.
It made me question a lot about food and my inner 14 year old wanna-be-vegetarian self started to speak up. Why do I eat so much meat? Yes, it tastes good, but I eat other foods with protein, so why not see if cutting down on my meat will make me feel a certain type of way. And if I do want to eat meat, why not be smart about it?
About a week’s worth of constant reading and shopping for groceries led me to a better understanding of where I want to be with what I eat.
- Minimize meat consumption while out, don’t cook meat at home
- Shop for organic food, local if possible! [markets, stands, etc]
- Make dishes based in vegetables
Although it all seems simple, it’s a lot harder than it first looks.
~ The Willows Inn on Lummi Island ~
While looking into all of this I was shocked to learn that a seasonal, forage-based restaurant – often considered one of the top 50 in the nation – was located a mere 40 minutes from my house!
Breakfast reservations were made.
Duck eggs, shots of goat milk, a delightful juice made of kale and ginger, foraged apples, crepes, lox, yogurt with a bourbon and nut sauce, raw honey and fresh radishes…and finished off with some lovely tea and cookies.
The experience was not only created by the food itself, but also by the way it was presented and the fact that you had to share plates and create a conversation about each dish. Everything was delightful and new and it won’t be long before the Midday meal or even the higher priced Dinner menu are going to be on my radar.
It also helped by inspiring me. Food can be gardened, found, locally resourced and delicious. I couldn’t help but notice that the meal did a very good job of following the three rules I had begun to utilize.
- Minimal meat
- very local
- stronger focus on vegetables (flavor, foraged, etc)
I’m giving myself time for food. I’m shopping better, eating healthier and truly enjoying what I eat and it’s already begun to make a large impact on my life.