So Come On, Which Food Guru Are You?
Is It Julia, Nigella, Martha?
Be honest we have all done it? And we all know which food guru we want to be, even before we take the quiz.
Maybe it’s an aspirational thing or, maybe it’s aligning ourselves with the person we think we know. The one portrayed in the media. And at the end of the day, it’s sort of nice to have a guru, be it a food guru or otherwise. Someone leading the way, finding the path for us. A guru, forging ahead doing the hard work for us.
Whatever it is, there is something irresistible about a food guru. It might, reflect something we would like to be, or achieve? It’s why we watch the TV programs and buy the books.
Sex In The City
I think it’s related to women’s roles as homemakers. When are single, or even coupled up but without kids, we can slob about in our PJ’s on a Saturday morning pretending to be a character from Sex in the City. That’s another one, which one are you?
Once kids come on the scene, the whole curse of perfectionism becomes channeled into creating a spectacle of domestic bliss around every social and seasonal event. If not, we are monumental failures!
Food Guru Fun
And actually, I don’t think there is any harm in having, or emulating, a food guru as long as we don’t take it too seriously.
When my daughter was very small I was obsessed by Nigella’s Christmas book. I loved the pictures and home decor as much as the food. I loved it all. So, on more than one Christmas, whilst I was still working full time as partner in a law firm and flying solo with child care, I attempted to create the Christmas illusion. Sure I didn’t get anywhere near Nigella’s pictures but I spent weeks getting as close as I possibly could, down to hand printed (Eve on production aged 4) wrapping paper. Have a word for goodness sake. The scene was admittedly lovely but however pretty, the day took on the usual pattern, inevitably descending into family squabbles over important things like which TV program to watch.
Everyday Food Guru
And then there are the “everyday foods” beautifully photographed in the book “written” by said food guru. All presented on matching plates, with matching napkins to children who are happy, smiling and grateful. I’ve written about struggling with kids over eating healthy food elsewhere (HERE). Take it from me, as someone who has prepared food for a living, creating the beautiful food scene takes a lot of time and effort. That’s over and above all the time is takes to prepare the actual food
Here is the balance. I love being involved in food preparation and creating a lovely table when I am not rushed. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. But it doesn’t happen all the time and very often other things take priority.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with the books. The problem comes when we take them too seriously. I remember reading one of the many Nigella revelations. I was so disappointed to read that it had taken team (yes a team) of stylists to create her idyllic family home. To say I was totally crushed is an understatement. What the heck!? Did I really think that a woman who has a TV series, a couple of kids and writes books etc etc really had time to hand pick and source Christmas baubles and dress her tree. It was an illusion. It required a magic wand or a team??!
So Do We Burn Our Food Guru Effigy?
Do we give up and submit to eating food from plates, whilst sitting on the sofa every night?
Not at all.
For women I think it’s really important to use these and other people as a resource for ideas and inspiration. They are a great way for us to come up with fresh ideas and to try out new things. However, it is essential to leave aside any perfectionist tendencies and look at the main goal which might be celebrating or, may just be socialising.
I think it is important for women to make kitchen and entertaining spaces places of ritual so that creating a beautifully presented table and food is just the part of a ritual. This means the preparation in itself is rewarding for the giver. Do something like lighting candle. Put on music and remind yourself of your intention. Small things like this can change how you feel about being in the kitchen. It’s a real art to take care of ourselves, as we take care of others, and this is one way we can do it.