Food Reminds Us To Slow Down

'Chew,' says every mother that ever was. As children we obey but as we get older, we forget as the day to day grind of life and job shortens our lunches, delays our dinners, ramps up the takeaways at the end of another exhausting day. We cease to chew, we consume. I have sat in restaurants and cafes, watched harassed lunch time office workers clamber in through the doorway, tap their fingers on their mobile phones and then taken what has been offered, what has been lovingly cooked, and watched them as they have gone into a corner and consumed it like a dog. I have seen food sucked in, half chewed by texting-an-eye-on-time-on-how-busy-outside-is-people. I rarely see a glance, hear a sigh to signify they are eating something that they love or hate. 

food, life on pig row, fast food

Back in the nineties we were told that food was the new rock n roll, this came after comedy being the new rock n roll and some distance after rock n roll being the new rock n roll. As a nation we have never really done food, we paw over Nigella Lawson, get annoyed that Turkey twizzlers are no more when Jamie Oliver is mentioned and women (and men) of a certain age lust over Gino D'Acampo's nudity (you can't win with innuendo anymore, Nigella). We celebrate the chef as celebrity, laud what they say but very rarely take their recipes to our bosom. The simple problem is that the British live in Britain, and Britain is wet, cold and windy, we sometimes get a summer, sometimes summers gets us. Food for our ancestors and us is something that powers us through the cold but it is not a way of life, food gives us the strength to face life and the rain. Thanks to the weather we have not been the kind of nation that lingers too much when eating; the heating could pack up, the tent could blow away, the waiter could bring the bill. Safe to say that we don't do eating outside very well either, we try to, if the summer is great we eat outdoors but the food eaten is often part of an anecdote told later, about a time that unseasonal snow fell and we were stuck for eight hours in traffic with a turkey in the boot.  

Britain, British food, food

What do we gain by stopping being a nation of consumers and instead become a group of people who linger over food? We have concerns around this, thanks to television and media we see the type of people who have time to linger over things, you only have to turn to twitter to see how Kirstie's Homemade Christmas is met with derision and laughs, crafters get it in the neck and foodies get it in the neck too for liking something that isn't thrown in a microwave. We have nothing against microwaves but we don't have one, and yes it has made a difference. We are nation who watch the clock (on the microwave) and get moving because we just have to get to work, get home etc etc etc but where are we all rushing to? Nowhere. Let’s face a fact, there has been a time in your life when you had a meal that lasted forever. It probably involved alcohol. You know that meal, that first ideal date, that moment when you let a Friday afternoon stretch out before you, you were in Greece, or the first time you footed the bill and you wanted your money’s worth. It could be as simple as a pint and a packet of peanuts that folded the rules of time and eating. When you finished what you were eating you were a different, calmer person. You wanted more of those moments, you probably talked to someone you love about having more of those moments. You realised in that moment that food is life and demands our attention, that money is wonderful but all it will ever do is buy us a better form of misery. Food is a key to realising that everything we do every day to power an economy if frankly a lot of nonsense. The idea of someone being richer than someone else is ludicrous. That money does not equal power if there is no food to be eaten, and there will come a time, as there has been before, where being rich won't save you from dwindling resources. Knowing how to grow food, may just save your life, your soul and your sanity.


Fill your day with things. I prefer to fill my soul with good food. To make that step as a nation we have to be in the moment, the present; to achieve the realisation that we can just stay where we are because there is no hurry to be in the future. That is the British affliction, we are always somewhere else than where we are. We have shopping to do, bosses to please, places to go, things to watch and nothing should get in the way of us living our lives but we don’t, we go on holiday for that. However, food holds the key to not a slower life but a calmer life. We came to Pig Row to embrace a path less traveled but like you we have to pay our bills, get stuck in rush hour and dream of moments where we can do nothing but there is always something to do, right? Yes, for us it has become food, the growing and cooking of it. We have started to push ourselves to try new recipes, grow new foods that are a million miles from our diet during the Wartime Garden but with each meal we highlight what we have grown. It’s a badge of honour for us because we want to grow and eat our food. Even our steak is accompanied by chilli jam made from our own crop, sweet and unctuous, each spoonful a memory of a calm, productive morning and spending time learning to cook becomes more and more about these moments.


There is a calmness in the return to seasonality and the preserving of the season’s bounty. We may not always get it right but at least we have given it a go. That’s what it is about, giving something new a go and we may not have deep pockets but we do have a deep desire to be in the here and now. So, we cut our cloth to meet are means. This may all sound very middle class; 'look at us, we're living the good life' but we're not, we're just living life and that is better than rushing through it. Food in the end is the great leveller, we all need it, we all want it, we all desire it, it brings us together regardless of how much money we earned last year or next year or in a lifetime. We can all have a last meal together. Not one of us can have a last moment with our bank accounts. You have to ask yourself what is important and why food, food chains, food can no longer be ignored in an age of dwindling resources.

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  1. Excellent post. Taking time to enjoy your food is one of my luxuries. It costs nothing and it adds so much. Thanks for the reminder!