Notes from the Orchard - October 2017

More Notes from The Orchard – 47

October 2017


I have just watched the final of Celebrity Masterchef 2017.

For quite a while now I have been worried about these cooking programmes when so many people in our world are suffering from starvation. Producing such fancy meals so harshly underlines the difference between the haves and the have-nots that I end up feeling guilty!  


At the moment there is another series of competitive programmes about families cooking meals for a moderate amount of money which shows that ingredients don’t have to be hugely expensive to enable people to enjoy the food they eat. Looking back at the way my own family lived, while there wasn’t a lot of money to enable our children to enjoy eating good healthy food there were mothers and grannies who did know how to make tasty meals and passed on their knowledge.


Many of the ingredients that make meals really delicious are simple herbs and spices which are not too expensive, though it would be good if the people who produced them would make them available in much smaller quantities.  How often do we buy the ingredients for some tasty dish which then migrate to the back of cupboards and are later discovered to be embarrassingly years – and I do mean years – out of date?


One of the most unfortunate long-term alterations to our education system in the last 30 or 40 years is the removal of what used to be called ‘Home Economics’ from the curriculum. When there are parents who for two or three generations have missed the basics of cooking and learning the importance of nutrition, we are now becoming truly aware that we need to pass on the importance of teaching our children how to produce delicious food at a fraction of the cost of ready-made stuff from which the main ingredient is missing.  What’s that, you may ask?  Love of course!


There seem to be few parents who insist on sitting together as a family to eat,  even if it is only once a week: chances of civilizing the younger generations are missed.  Meals are no longer a means of bonding between the generations.   Any pleasure is subordinated  to the rush to eat as quickly as possible and get back to the screen of the moment, back to the virtual friends you will never meet or get out and go shopping. . .


It does seem a pity that with such a vast choice of recipes available on the internet to learn how to cook well you don’t then invite people into your house to share and enjoy what you have produced.  Splendid ‘how to…’ programmes are wasted while fingers flash over the keyboards playing time-wasting games (including mine) while real life disappears into a bottomless void with nothing to show at the end.


I do realize that the majority of people who read these notes are not full of energy.  From personal experience I have discovered that as the years rush by, it becomes more and more difficult to produce a decent meal for even one person – long live Kellogg’s crispy nut flakes! So easy to pour a little dishful, add milk and eat.  But it wouldn’t take too much of an effort to liaise with a friend or friends and each produce just one part of a good meal then get together and eat in company.  Wine while you eat, coffee to finish then share the washing-up.


Now there’s an idea to conjure with as the days shorten and cool down!  neighbourliness and hospitality are high on the list of most religions’ ‘To Do Lists’.  If we don’t get to know people how are we going to progress any further towards understanding them, liking them, caring about them and even to loving them?



Sarah Bell


© Katy Bell