For those who know me personally, I have recently left my job off two-and-a-half years to finally pursue my passions. So, as I sat in Mamela’s kitchen two Tuesdays ago, contemplating why the world spins and why I had quit my job, I decided that I needed to finally DO the things I keep SAYING I will get around to. Staring at me was a copy of Jamie Oliver’s cookbook “The Naked Chef”, a book by a person I greatly admire and relate to in food philosophy. Unfortunately, this specific book of his had always been on my to-do list. So with an hour before dinner to kill, I cracked it open to page one and was immediately immersed until I reached page eleven. Then, I simply became inspired.
“We can’t keep buying those small packets of fresh herbs from the supermarket. Quite often we are paying high prices for substandard herbs, and not much of them either…the idea is that fresh herbs are to be picked and used in cooking for a really natural, fresh perfume, not sweating and wilting in plastic.” (Excerpt from “The Naked Chef Cookbook” page 11.)
Jamie managed to put in ink what I always have thought – that store-bought herbs is nearly tantamount to “cruel and unusual punishment”. Before you dubb me “Rachel’sDramaticDelusions”, hear me out.
Many are all too familiar with the high costs of packaged fresh herbs that are only good for two days, forcing you to only buy herbs when you know that you will immediately use them. I do not know about you, but I do not like being told when I can have my favorite pesto gnocchi. Enter the genius argument for home-grown herb plants.
“Whether you live in the city or the country, whether you’re rich or poor, whether you live on the sixteenth-floor or in a basement flat, it doesn’t matter! Just stick them in your garden, window-box, flower pot, bucket – anything that doesn’t move!” (Excerpt from “The Naked Chef Cookbook” page 11.)
While this rules out my wheelbarrow, my family and I have definitely not let the lack of fresh arable land to hold us back or constrain our eating habits.
Mamela interrupted my delusional daydream to ask what kind of starch I wanted with my grilled steak. Leaving her confused, I rand out to the back of their house to our shared garden and began snipping away. Just like Jamie said, the perfume of fresh mint and rosemary on my fingertips gave me a calm feeling as dusk settled in and a warm summer breeze rustled through my dad’s tomatoes.
In an hour, I was sitting on Mamela’s terrace under the twinklelights and listening to my dad rant and rave about the refreshing sensation my roasted potatoes gave his palette. I sat there, sipping my g’n’t, and thanked “The Naked Chef”.