Friday, February 4, 2011

The (In) Convenient Movement

We have recently discovered this amazing little Italian cafe in our city, and have fallen in love. It is in an awkward location, is incredibly small, and serves the best food I have had in a restaurant in a very long time. And why is this place so amazing? Because everything is made by hand, with love. Now I know that sounds cliche, but it's true! You can taste the love! And the time and effort that has been put into each bite. That is rare, and it shouldn't be. How many places can you go and eat homemade bread, soup, and pasta? The pasta is handmade. And the sauce. And everything else that they serve. It is by no means fancy, in fact it is simple. Really simple. But it is better. It tastes like a meal you would make at home. And it is cheap! This proves that you can make simple food entirely from scratch, and sell it for less than another place that is simply reheating frozen processed food. We have it (mostly) all wrong here in North America.  This is how every restaurant, or cafe is in Italy. You don't have to search out a good meal, hoping you won't be served something horrible. Everything is good. Why isn't it like that here? You have to go out of your way to find a good (or even decent!) meal here. And if it happens to be good, there is a very small chance that everything was handmade. Why???

                                                                                          Maple Baked Beans

I think it is because we are all about convenient, fast, and cheap. Well, this cafe has two out of three. It is fast, and cheap (OK, not Dollar Menu cheap, but that is a WHOLE other post). But it is not convenient. It takes time and effort to make all of that food. And most people don't want to put that time and effort into their food, or even their lives. It frustrates me! Making dinner used to be an all day affair. It then got reduced in time, thanks to modern appliances and electricity. But the time spent making dinner seems to decrease with every generation, to the point where spending 15 minutes preparing dinner is almost too much to ask.  We are all about the prepackaged, precooked, processed foods, and it is not only ruining family dynamics, it is killing us!

I am often told that I am an "old soul", or "old fashioned" because of the way I live my life. When I tell people that I make my own bread, or can my own fruit, or make my own pasta, they look at me like I am crazy. Or that I just have way too much time on my hands. Believe me, I don't have a ridiculous amount of time on my hands, but I do use the time I have wisely. I love to cook, and bake, and generally just be in the kitchen. And you know what? The effort that I put into my meals is so worth it when we get to sit down and enjoy them.  I embrace inconvenience. It slows me down and makes me thankful for how lucky I am to have a meal to eat, and that it is delicious and healthy. We are so lucky to live in a country that provides us with jobs and freedom, and the ability to feed and nourish our families. And we take it for granted every day.  I think we all need to slow down a bit, and really start putting some effort into what we are putting into our mouths.  This convenient way of life is making us miss all of these wonderful things, like the smell of bread baking throughout the house, or the way a jar of homemade strawberry jam brings you back to the middle of summer when you were up to your ears in berries. And inconvenience brings us together. How much fun is it to attempt a new recipe together, or even just to sit down to a great meal together and talk about the day while savoring the love that has been cooked right into that food? Nothing can beat that. I encourage you to embrace inconvenience, and see where it leads you.


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