I returned a little over a year ago from my overseas adventures, after working my way around the world for six years onboard a private motor yacht. The nature of my job meant I was lucky enough to dine in some of the most prestigious establishments and stock up on provisions in some of the most fabulously hectic market places.
It was culinary bliss to eat my way around the globe. I became completely captivated by the expansive range of flavours, combinations, and cooking methods that were available beyond the humble Hawke’s Bay shores. I began to appreciate that my prior knowledge of food was limited and my hospitality perceptions were narrow. I decided to take full advantage of the food scene in every destination and never passed up an opportunity to devour any local delicacy … no matter how strange or foreign to my taste buds.
I started my travels with a list of foods I didn’t like, shellfish being one main contender. However, with a mission to ‘Eat my way around the globe’ I soon realized that I needed to minimize this list, or better yet, get rid of it altogether. I chose the latter and specifically sought out dishes that contained food I wasn’t particularly fond of.
‘Moules et frites’ was the first thing I ordered in France. I was hesitant at first, but by the time I got through the steaming pot of fresh Mediterranean mussels I had mastered the ‘slurp’ action and was very excited about my newfound relationship with this salt-water mollusk.
It became clear to me that my attitude towards food was a major contributor to whether or not I enjoyed it. Luckily, with no food allergies to contend with, technically there was nothing to stop me from sampling and enjoying the different representations of food on my journey.
For some people food is nothing but a necessity, for me it is an experience. It is one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture and yet still is our common ground across the globe. Food brings people together. It is a universal experience and often the pinnacle of any special occasion, important conversation or memorable event.
“I eat anything”
Upon my return to Hawke’s Bay in 2012 it was exciting to see a growing mix of hospitality establishments that supply a diverse platform of authentic flavours for us ‘locals’ to indulge on.
I and two fabulous business partners (Nick and Clint) recently opened Mamacita Restaurant. We’re very excited about the concept of incorporating authentic Mexican recipes with local produce. It is this fusion that has become a foundation for our business as it creates yet another level of flavour. Our seafood is sourced locally. Our fresh produce is grown nearby. Even our hot sauces are developed for us by the wonderful team at Orcona (who specialise in Hawke’s Bay grown chillies).
We are going to be introducing a bit more heat in some of our dishes and incorporating specials that will test your Spanish pronunciation. It will be interesting to see how this is received, but we hope our local supporters will be adventurous enough to try some new creations.
So this is where you come in…
Ask yourself, are you taking full advantage of the pleasures you can receive from a home-cooked meal or a dish that is prepared for you? Get creative. Be courageous. Order something off the menu you usually never would. Try something different every week. This doesn’t mean you need to eat out all the time; experiment with recipes at home.
Experiment with the foods you have avoided in the past. Try new cooking methods for food you didn’t particularly like the taste of. You just might surprise yourself how many items now on your ‘dislike’ list re-introduce themselves to your palette in a whole new light.
Visit some of the local Asian supermarkets and delicatessens and add some flair to your pantry. Use your hands or chopsticks to eat if necessary. Don’t order steak or chicken! Be adventurous. Guys – take a punt and try the vegetarian option!
When I am at someone’s house for dinner and the host asks me “Is there anything you don’t like?” … it is with great pleasure that I can now truthfully answer, “Nope, I eat anything.”
Food is fabulous and we will forever depend upon it – not only to live but for utter enjoyment.