The New World is the Old World.
The last year has been full of challenges, and survival in it for business has been tough. I hope we are coming out the other end, but it's clear there have been changes made to accommodate this new world. Whilst I was happy enough in the old one and I personally am not keen on some makes of the new, there are some things, especially around the food market, that I see from my past decades. Like the clothes industry and its recycling of fashion, I recognise so many features in todays food market. Whether it be in professional catering or simply home dinners, we have come full circle and I can see the benefits already.
As prices soured and stocks became less available, our daily lives and tables became less adorned with many things we loved. The simplicity of fresh peas in their pods last summer was a challenge.
Whilst some accepted this as something that would pass, time went by and for many, this was time to implement change. Gardens have been transformed into small but perfectly formed allotments, and just like my teenage and younger years, I realise how smart our grandparents were. Whilst planting our own produce, without realising, we were educating our younger children on not just how things grow, but the simple life and pleasure you get from watching seedlings grown into items from farm to table. Small flower beds made way for planting artichoke and corn, small investments in varied garden pots prove perfect in providing colour to courtyards and providing salad leaves and wild strawberries for dinner plates. The free time whilst being tied to our homes was spent lovingly tending to our pots and even window boxes, and in my view a somewhat calming influence to a stressful situation was emerging.
Markets have without doubt become far more popular than before, and the wanting to support local has become more important than ever. The slow but welcomed return of the milkman can be seen in many villages and in my view it is a welcomed one. There was nothing better than fresh milk and the race for the cream on the top of the bottle over breakfast bowls. As we have watched the rich become richer with Amazon deliveries and supermarkets struggle to deliver within a reasonable period, attitudes towards provisions are changing.
Sourdough has become a clear favourite this last couple of years with sales souring, yet more than ever families taking on the challenge of baking fresh bread and the science experiments that are sour dough starters. Families are more together than we have seen in years, and time has allowed parents to return to teaching kids to cook, something which for many had been replaced with oven ready TV dinners. The clear signs of obese children is our lack of time spent educating the real need for fresh food, and replacing it with precooked, heavily laden salt and preservatives in our food, and this can so easily be changed. This last year has shown many that its not beyond the realm of even the most challenged in the kitchen to whip up a fresh meal with the new bounty of companies willing to deliver to your door with fresh ingredients and simple recipe instructions.
My grandmother was a ridiculously talented cook. She worked the kitchen table with her rolling pin and fresh puff pastry every week. The garden was full of runner beans and fresh peas, tomatoes, carrots, and edible flowers. We all played a part in family dinners and whilst shelling peas was often a favourite job to take on, it was time consuming when the "one for me and one for the pot" was in motion. Filleting fish from local fisherman on the Cromer shores was a challenge but one taught early on, but it resulted in a natural appreciation of the bi weekly fish and chips wrapped in the local rag from Sheringham high street. I am in no doubt this has slowly but surely returned to many family kitchens this last year and the return to old habits can only be a welcomed one.
The struggle for many restaurants has been enormous, the continuous changing of rules and implementation of so many rules that incurred huge costs, only to be be thrown in their faces as door were once again closed, but I hope as we pull through this chaos, we have learnt a new found appreciation of dining out. Surely having these things removed from us, has taught us the importance of companionship and love that is put into providing great food. Time to reflect over a table with no dishes in hand, but appreciating the life of that wild strawberry or crispy kale that is now growing in your own front yard. In my perfect world we shall see a huge support in our hospitality industry this next coming months. An appreciation that when I were younger was the excitement of just being at a restaurant table.
So, for all willing this year and more months to pass and let us return to being able to be with friends, hug, laugh and enjoy company over a table of generous fresh foods, lets not forget the simple life can provide the better one. Lets move forward laden with more knowledge and greener fingers and above all eat well and be merry.