Confession time: I’m a bit in love with Jamie Oliver. I know, I know. It’s probably a very uncool thing to admit. He’s the kind of celebrity chef that everyone loves to hate. Whether it’s his demeanour, his perceived preachy-ness, his swearing or his accent, lots of people have an issue with him. Technically, I suppose, I should have an issue with the fact that he is a spokesperson for one of the big two supermarkets here. But even then I just can’t bring myself to dislike him because he stand for many of the things I think are important.
I’ve been on a bit of a JO binge over this weekend. I’ve been watching Youtube videos from his 15 Minute Meals and 30 Minute Meals TV series, as well as reading the books. I don’t normally follow recipes, however, recently I’ve been so bored with cooking that I’ve been following recipes to the very end as a kind of mental stimulation (yes, that is what it’s come to). And I’ve been getting a few new ideas for doing things quickly.
One of the things that characterises this quick approach to getting food on the table is the idea of the shared plate. Dumping everything (artfully, of course) onto a large plate, platter or board cuts down on the time spent serving. It’s casual and really simple. But it totally changes the experience of eating. It means you must share, negotiate, talk over the food.
Shared plates have become really trendy in restaurants…so I’m told. In the dining-out scene they are just another passing fad. But at home they can be just what we need. A big platter in the centre of the table promotes conviviality. That’s the idea of being social and festive over food. It’s when we eat together and talk together at the table. It is when relationships are formed or strengthened over a meal. We need more conviviality in our super-fast world. It ensures we don’t take each other or our food for granted. So Jamie Oliver – you flawed individual, you – I salute you. You’ve restored my wayward kitchen mojo and reminded me that sitting down to dinner is a daily act of reconnection with my family and appreciation of the food I am fortunate enough to eat.
Check out the other food books I love in these posts about my list of books for people who care about where their food comes from and my books suggestions for healthy eating.