Rob and I love watching British cooks. We first fell in love with Gordon Ramsey, not because of Hell’s Kitchen, but because of a show produced only in the U.K. called F-Word. It not only had nail-biting meal-cooking competitions ala Hell’s Kitchen, but also featured segments about the quality of food, where it comes from, how ethically the animals are treated, and how easy it can be to cook healthy meals. Ramsey is mostly known here in America for pissing off chefs and restaurateurs all over the nation, but intentions are pure: help people admit their mistakes and change in order to improve.
Then, last month, The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver started pissing off residents of Huntington, West Virginia, which is now—thanks to Oliver—famous for being the unhealthiest city in America (the claim is based on a CDC report published in 2008). He’s stepping on lots of toes there—chefs at elementary schools, a local radio personality, even hospital administrators who seemed to be more worried about the bad PR than the health of their city. But Oliver’s goal is not to cause a ruckus. He just wants school to feed kids fresh foods, not processed foods, and he wants them and their parents to rediscover the joy and ease of cooking. How fulfilling is it to pop a frozen pizza in the microwave?
This is something that Rob and I discovered this year, and I love it! I thought it would be tiresome to have to cook everything from scratch—no mixes, no boxed or canned or frozen meals—but it’s… *gasp* fun! We have fun planning our meals each week, trying to come up with creative dishes that use what we already have and maybe two or three store-bought or fresh items, fun scouring cookbooks—new and old—and cooking magazines for recipes that might fit the bill. Hey, we even have fun cooking!
We’re not counting carbs or grams of fat or points. We’re just trying to “eat more veg” (as Oliver/the Brits like to say) and know exactly what’s going into the food we eat.
So I challenge you to try it out for a month. We made homemade mac and cheese last month and it is the best I’ve ever tasted. Rob’s baking easy, four-ingredient artisan bread at home (no preservatives or unknown chemicals). I’ve found a truly delicious tuna salad recipe to eat that bread with. Rob’s good at main dishes, veggies, and bread, and I’m good at main dishes (most of the time—don’t ask about the fajitas), veggies, and desserts. What will you be good at?
One more thing. I also ask that you support Oliver’s quest to change that way school food is done in America. He’s collecting names for a petition that aims to give our schoolchildren
better food at school and better health prospects
to keep cooking skills alive.
He’s got almost 500,000. Let’s get a million people who want to rediscover the joy of cooking and give better food and better health to our children. Sign the petition here!