There is no love more sincere than the love of food George Bernard Shaw

sushi.jpgLet’s face it – we can all go a week without watching our favorite show, everyone can deal with the loss of a treasured piece of clothing, stolen cars can always be replaced and we can all deal with small amounts of distance from our friends and loved ones. Nothing however, besides obvious things like oxygen can be more important than food. So one must wonder, if eating is something we do regularly – then surely it’s something we should learn about. If you’re doing okay financially it makes little sense that you should know everything there is to know about sport, have a good fashion sense, be geographically and politically aware – and know next to nothing about food.

Few people understand how easy it is to make a really good casserole, put together a curry evening, whip up a quick stir-fry, bake good brownies or make a really wholesome stew. On top of that – with a good play list, an open bottle of wine and a friend or partner to assist the process – cooking is an enjoyable act in and of itself (just try avoid having more than a glass of wine before the guests arrive.) Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray and Nigella Lawson have all done an unbelievable job of making cooking reachable. But insofar as actually getting people to take an active part in their own culinary adventure, there’s no one more influential than a friend.

My personal journey began when a house-mate of mine, Tom, started dating a girl from Milan, Gracia at about the same time that I was collecting a lot of wine. Suddenly – our egg on toast kitchen was producing made from scratch Sicilian style pizza, Guinness and steak pies, pan seared tuna steaks in coriander and orange sauce, pin-wheal sandwiches, pasta cabonara, spinach and feta pastries (all accompanied by a killer wine)… and that was just on weak nights between the three of us. About once a month we’d invite friends and spend up to 4 hours preparing (in such cases you can have up to 3 glasses of wine before the guests come.)

Few people our age – unless married like myself, can afford to live on their own and so live with two or more people per house. And whilst many people will go to a restaurant and spend $40 a head – few of those same people would spend $80 on a week’s groceries and actually share in cooking fairly basic and highly satisfying dishes for the whole week, taking turns with a house mate. If anything cooking is the perfect occasion to have a glass of wine – as that’s where the fun with wine comes in. You’ll find me and other wine writers saying the wine smells like wild mushroom, papaya, apple, aniseed, rose petals, cinamon, spices or any other of a gallimaufry of flavors – and perhaps think to yourself ‘how do you know?’ Part of the answer (besides having done extensive wine education) is that I drink while I cook. So occasionally there are wild mushrooms at hand at the same time as I’m trying out a Pinot Noir and you happen to make the connection. Insofar as using descriptions like sweaty socks – well no one should battle to find those lying around from time to time.

Even better is taking a recipe recommended by a winery – and then drinking the wine together with it to see what they’re going on about. None of this has to be lame or pansy really, because if you put together a good meal – everyone will appreciate it. And if it burns – then you can always order pizza or Chinese, top up your wine glass, and try again next time.

By the way – to get started in looking for wine to go with your food, try the Beta version of the tasting tool on Tastevine – and to get some ideas for recipes here are a few sites I quite like, and will be reviewing in the next few weeks:

Holy Shiitake

Foodie Site

Better Baking


Chocolate and Zuchini


101 Recipes


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