What better time, ladies and gentlemen in gourmet land, to examine the health of our interest in food and eating than at this point in the year when we’ve all eaten and certainly drunk more than we should have? Following the wretched excess of Christmas, a time of struggles with free-range turkeys and organic puddings, of retail obstacles mounted and of culinary foes bested, we might well be thinking, bugger it, maybe the tofu and beansprouts crowd know what they’re talking about. Maybe the teetotallers and wowsers have been drinking the right stuff all along. Maybe – and we tremble at the very thought – the calorie-counters are the ones with the numbers that add up. Of course they don’t, and you know as well as we do that it’s malarkey, but still, the unexamined life isn’t worth living, so as you gesture at the waiter with the snorkel to bring another Mai Tai to your floating pool lounge and reach for a third turkey, ham and prawn sandwich, gentle reader, the time has come to ask, has food taken over your life? Our simple quiz has the answer.
1. You’re taking your interest in salumi to the next level. You
(a) start buying artisan-made
(b) start making your own
(c) start attending butchery and charcuterie classes
(d) start treating the better-looking members of your herd of rare-breed pigs to extra apples and cream.
2. Your friends are always saying
(a) you’re a really good cook
(b) you’re such a good cook you should open a little restaurant
(c) you’re such a good cook you should audition for MasterChef
(d) it might be time to step back from the TV work to give the two-star the attention it deserves.
3. Twitter is great for
(a) getting the buzz on new restaurants
(b) finding out what the GT team are having for lunch
(c) finding out what Steve Manfredi is having for lunch with David Tsirekas, Lauren Murdoch and Jared Ingersoll
(d) tracking Lotus chef Dan Hong without all the cumbersome night-vision gear.
4. We’re seeing a lot of edible flowers on plates because
(a) they sure are pretty
(b) Australia’s chefs are a bunch of nancy-boys
(c) it’s a valid aesthetic and culinary trend
(d) foraging in nanna’s backyard is a great way of keeping food costs down.
5. “Potato cooked in the earth in which it was grown” is
(a) a bit wordy for an entrée
(b) a signature dish at Melbourne’s excellent Attica restaurant
(c) sounding pretty good for lunch right about now
(d) a happy memory of a special moment, just you, Ben Shewry and the earth.
6. Food in the bedroom: you’ve considered spicing up your love life with
(b) extra-virgin olive oil
(c) ice cubes
(d) live prawns.
7. Food in the bathroom: you’re no stranger to
(a) a glass of wine in the bath
(b) a beer in the shower
(c) brushing your teeth with a light Moselle
(d) bathing in raw ass’s milk.
8. Your idea of a food getaway is
(a) checking out the greatest local and international talent at the GT Masterclass at Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
(b) boning up on the latest in hydrocolloids and meat glue technology at Madrid Fusión
(c) gathering wild herbs and exchanging thoughts on global terroirism with René and the boys at the next instalment of Cook It Raw
(d) getting air-lifted into Borneo with nothing more than a blow-pipe and an obsidian blade.
9. Watching Julie & Julia, you
(a) thought Julie was pretty annoying
(b) thought Julie was really annoying
(c) wondered how anyone could muck up a braise like that
(d) were saddened, not for the first time, that cinemas don’t sell roast duck.
10. You enjoy liver
(a) in small doses
(b) with bacon and lots of fried onions
(c) most especially when it’s been removed from a force-fed goose
(d) with fava beans and a big Amarone.
11. Truffle oil is good for
(b) figuring out which restaurants to avoid
(c) putting people off real truffles, thus leaving more for the rest of us
(d) keeping the neighbours’ cats out of the garden.
12. As a child, formative moments in your reading included
(a) the picnic in The Wind in the Willows
(b) the cellars filled with food in Fantastic Mr Fox
(c) Where the Wild Things Are
(d) that entry in Larousse about the guys who ate the contents of the Paris zoo.
13. After some months’ work you’ve finally got the dog trained to
(a) bite the postie
(b) bring you your copy of GT
(c) herd the geese towards the fattening shed on its own
(d) make a passable Negroni.
14. You’re pleased to see food finally becoming a political issue. It’s about time we
(a) had a federal minister for food
(b) placed more weight on food security as a national issue
(c) had some politicians with better taste in restaurants
(d) legislated to ban balsamic vinegar mixed into olive oil from restaurant tables.
15. Packing your 10-year-old’s lunchbox, you
(a) slip in a frozen juice box to keep everything cool
(b) pack the tomato separately so the salad sandwich doesn’t get soggy
(c) wonder if she really appreciates the savour of unsalted Echiré on freshly baked sourdough
(d) include a Laguiole blade alongside the hunk of good Parmigiano.
16. You’re such a fan of Neil Perry’s work that you
(a) have eaten the entire Spice Temple menu
(b) have eaten every side at Rockpool Bar & Grill
(c) have booked tickets to LA to check out the new place
(d) ask your hair stylist for The Neil.
17. Your favourite bit of food-related technology is
(a) Gourmet Traveller online
(b) the 641s section in the local library
(c) that Gordon Ramsay iPhone app
(d) that app that turns your iPhone into a Thermomix.
WORDS PAT NOURSE ILLUSTRATION ANTONIA PESENTI
This article is from the January 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
You’ve got this thing on a leash, and you definitely know which side of the eat-to-live live-to-eat fence you’re sitting on. You know the different between apples and oranges, chicken and tuna, and your friends trust you with the tongs at any given barbie.
Diagnosis: manageable foodism.
You run a blog with some sort of food pun in the name and bring props to restaurant meals just to give your plate shots a little extra something. Your pets eat better than most bachelors and your kids can explain the difference between perfect and dry Manhattans to your guests as they pour them. You’ve got it bad, but you’re still recognisably normal and haven’t yet started carrying condiments on your person at all times.
Diagnosis: chronic foodism.
You read cookbooks in bed. That’s fine, but most people don’t read them aloud to their partners. Your kitchen owns you, not the other way around, and that tattoo of George Calombaris would probably age better if you hadn’t got it on your lower abdomen.
Diagnosis: terminal foodism.
Step into my office and shut the door. You have a problem. Eating whale is no more ethically troublesome to you than veal is to most mortals (though you’re still not quite sure whether to dip it in a little soy sauce first), and let’s face it, the only reason you’re planning that trip to the mountains of Papua New Guinea is to see if this cannibalism business is all it’s cracked up to be.
Diagnosis: you’re spreading the disease.
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