Taste of life

How plain life becomes when you can’t eat tasty food. For 3 days now I haven’t been able to eat anything but white bread, pasta and plain yogurt. Water has been my source of fluid, but the water here in Santiago de Chile basically tastes like the air looks – full of smog. I’m sure it’s clean enough to drink but anyway the taste makes you not want to drink too much. Food poisoning (or something alike) is the reason my weekend has been focused on not eating and not moving which obviously hasn’t been very interesting, but it has given me time to consider how important food, or more specifically taste, is for quality of life.

I am now able to move around again and I’m ready to start up my social life after days of not seeing people. But still I can’t eat and this actually has a huge effect on how I can attend social meetings – there will be no BBQ on sunday, no coffee in a cafe this afternoon and definitely no meeting over a nice lunch or dinner. I’ve always known that food and drinks are very central in most social meetings. Even the way we place ourselves in a meeting is most often around a table, the BBQ or a bar – around things that we can share and consume. I think the sharing of something makes it easier and more comfortable to meet another person, because it provides you with a base of having something in common. It’s like the weather – you can always talk about the weather. And you can always talk about food. Moreover, the physical positioning around something that you share can create a feeling of safety, where you’re shielded off from the world outside. Within the borders of the group there is a mutual understanding of why we’re together, what social codes are dominating and what is shared. This I believe is a safety that everyone is seeking to create a comfortable setting in which you can enjoy both old and new social relations. Maybe this could partly be an explanation to why food and drinks are so important when we meet with friends, family or strangers?! Do you have other ideas of why it might be like this or do you maybe have another conception of the role of food in social meetings? Leave a comment below – it would be great to hear your opinion!

So… this break in my consummation of food and the very little stimulation my taste buds have received these last days has resulted in a craving for food that I haven’t experienced for long. I have decided that the first thing I’m gonna cook when I can start to eat normal again, is this chicken-spinach lasagna. It’s beautifully soft, the chicken and spinach makes it lighter than a regular lasagna and the chili gives a nice kick to it. A great recipe that I got from an old friend’s dad and you can find it here.

Heavy but delicious

This is the first dish I want to share with you. Not to set the line in the style of food I am going to present, because no matter how much I do love this dish, I must admit that it doesn’t look very appealing and it doesn’t do much good for your body, except of course from satisfying your taste buds. No, I want to share this dish with you because it provides an opportunity for me to present where I come from and at the same time give some thoughts on my new home, Chile.

The dish is Danish and this is where I come from. Denmark that is…. some people confuse us with Holland for some unknown reason. It might be the blond hair, the sound of the language or maybe the unreasonably harsh foreign policy that is being led in both countries. I hope most of you when reading this last comment doesn’t know what I’m talking about – that would mean that Denmark might still have a good reputation in some parts of the world. I’m sure I will touch upon this subject again some other time. But to get back to the point – I come from Denmark like the dish. The dish consists of boiled potatoes, fried bacon and parsley sauce (*in Danish: kartofler med stegt flæsk og persillesovs). Potatoes and pork I believe are the most popular ingredients in Danish cooking both traditionally and today. As of 1st of January 2012 there were 12,3 million pigs in Denmark. That means 2,2 pigs per person, which is actually nothing compared to what is said about the ratio between sheep and people in New Zealand. But we do eat a lot of pork and we love our bacon. Nice and greasy with an amazing smoked flavour – perfect to cure a hangover.

The plate on the picture is from our goodbye-dinner with my Danish family 6 weeks ago. It was actually my husband who requested it. He also knows how to appreciate a good piece of bacon and that is even though he is Chilean. We’ve recently moved to Chile  and I’ve found that bacon is not a very well-appreciated piece of the pork here. In the supermarket you usually just find 1 or 2 different brands and they are super expensive. The explanation I’ve got from Chileans is, that it is too greasy and it is considered to be bad for your health (there might be something about that. After eating this plate I could almost feel the grease running in my veins). But the few times I’ve cooked with it here in Chile, and for example sprinkled a bit of crisp crumbled bacon on a salad, people have loved the taste. So it must be something cultural. Some common agreement that bacon is not something wanted.

Poor bacon I say… But no worries.. In Denmark I know people who says, that every dish becomes better if you add bacon. I even know people who makes little baskets of bacon to serve bacon in. Just like the one on the picture. I actually quite like the idea of serving food in food, though it doesn’t have to be all bacon. It seems simple, sustainable and fresh. Maybe I’ll experiment more with that in the future…

I want to end with the point about culturally shaped believes about certain types of food being healthy or unhealthy or gross or delicious. I find it interesting to see the amount of impact the food culture of a place or a country has on the way people, we, understand healthy living and quality of life. What should our children eat? Can I become in a better mood through changing my diet? Is food a pleasure or a necessity? And is it surrounded by social relations or is that just my cultural background bringing me to the conviction that it is so?

Find the recipe for “Boiled potatoes with bacon and parsley sauce” here.