Spaghetti Bolognese in process
It was all a bit peculiar to me. Yes, I knew who Jamie Oliver was and yes, I understood he was hella famous but I never watched any of his shows. Ever. True. In fact, I don’t watch cooking shows of any kind. I eat and I cook. I find it hard to watch cooking happening if I’m not going to be eating that food later! So, when the news first broke that Jamie Oliver would be opening one of his renowned Italian restaurants in South Africa, I was like: “okayyyy, that’s cool”. And I didn’t get it. But now I do.
Old school Mediterranean vibes and decor remind me of my grandma
Sitting in Jamie’s Italian Kitchen during the course of a recent media event, I started seeing it. Strict requirements about being able to exactly source every ingredient and know precisely where that ingredient comes from and how it is made, to ensure that the products and meals put on the table in front of his patrons are exactly as he wants it to be, delicious and honest and wholesome. Who knew?! I guess everyone did, except me. And what a revelation. Suddenly, I understood. I was biting into a massive olive with a whole new level of understanding and appreciation.
The Jamie’s Italian planks are legendary
The “fresh pasta made in-house every day from eggs of the best chickens”? Those chickens have to have toys! They have to be happy, healthy, free-roaming chickens and Jamie wants to see photos and videos of them at their toys, actually playing. TOYS! That is some serious thoroughness, guys. And all that comes to you, the diner. On every level. You don’t even *know* or fully understand what you’re eating and how much has gone into that product being just right for you, healthy and created with only the best, precisely sourced, checked and guaranteed produce. Happy chickens with toys, laying the best eggs available.
Chef Shane Smit cracking jokes and smiling as they make fresh pasta
And that’s how I found myself dining, while Chef Shane Smit, group head chef, explained it all: happily. My mind swimming with information I had only just learned, my eyes glazing over with the pleasure of eating, my tongue trying to break apart all the various tastes.
But it wasn’t just all about eating good food and going home satisfied. It got me seriously thinking about Jamie’s Food Revolution. Ever since I officially started my blog, I’ve been moving (ever so slowly) toward a cleaner, healthier eating lifestyle. Sure, there are setbacks and it’s impossible never to have sugar (no really, stop it, it’s impossible). But it worries me. What we are putting into our bodies every day worries me. If I think of the way my gran’s food used to taste, and what the ingredients she made things from looked like, I kinda feel sad because it simply does not exist anymore. Truthfully, for most food producers, the bottom line is all that matters.
So, it got me curious. I started following Jamie Oliver on social media and I even signed up for his Food Revolution. And I’m starting to see what he’s getting at. Honestly, it’s difficult for me personally to buy organic and make sure my food is free range. At this time in my life, I’m still paying off mountains of debt from a business that went under. But this is what I am moving and working toward.
The amazing meat plank with prosciutto, schiacciata piccante and mortadella
And I have since started to create my own veggie patch because I think that’s half the battle won right there. Clearly, I’ll never have my own cow and I can’t afford almond milk. For goodness’ sake, who can?! But little changes, small increments, investing in my health and longevity. This is all becoming majorly important to me with each passing day.
I must be getting old!
But yes, that’s the plan. To health, and great, wholesome food!
My very delicious Porcini Fettuccine
In the meantime, you should go and enjoy some delicious nosh, as Jamie might say, at his restaurant in Melrose Arch.