”It’s intriguing to see just how quickly our tastes in food have evolved in recent years. Not so long ago, no true epicurean could rest until he or she had made the pilgrimage to Catalonia to sample the foams and caviars being created in the lab-cum-kitchen of chef Ferran Adrià’s el Bulli in Spain. Tasting menus of Olympic proportions became the measure of a fine-dining establishment.
”Then came the foragers. I first heard about this development when west coast chef Kobus van der Merwe started gathering greens on the sand dunes and then René Redzepi in Copenhagen sealed the deal with his seasonal fare and reinvention of Nordic cuisine. Soon Noma was the next must-try on every foodie’s itinerary. It was the first sign that sustainability was moving up on the menu.
”Next came the nose-to-tail discussion, and now there’s a restaurant in Cape Town called La Tête, where you can literally eat everything from the cheeks to the the brains of an animal.
”But by far the most interesting evolutionary move in the world of fine dining is the fact that high on the list of this year’s best restaurants in the world is an Italian restaurant called Osteria Francescana that prides itself on serving leftover meals to those in need. (They are number two this year; number one in 2016.)
”This is a world I am happy to live in: a world where we celebrate excellence and can rejoice in the skills of one of the world’s finest food craftsmen such as Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, but also a world where the realities of our existence are confronted and addressed, and where everyone gets to benefit from success.
During the Rio Olympics last year, Bottura invited 65 international chefs to help him turn 15 tonnes of salvaged food from the city’s restaurants into 10 000 meals for charity.
”South Africa’s most famous culinary export and Michelin Star star, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen thinks the fight against food waste is the most important food trend of the year”.
See the Michelin Man’s suggestions for sustainable cooking solutions
1. WORK OUT A WEEKLY MENU
Plan ahead. Think of ways you can use the same ingredients in different meals. Through planning, you will shop smarter by buying only what you need — and save a bit of money in the process.
2. GET CREATIVE
Try to use everything in your kitchen by attempting to cook something you haven’t made before. You can mash leftover sweet potatoes, for instance, to make fish cakes. Who knows, the ideas you come up with for #LeftOverMondays could become the main event at your next dinner party.
3. TASTE BEFORE YOU WASTE
Keep in mind that best-before dates are more about quality than safety, so trust your senses. We are hardwired to react to food that is bad for us. If smelling food still leaves you doubtful, let your taste buds do the testing. You’ll know immediately.
4. CHECK YOUR PORTIONS
Ask yourself: how much is too much? Often, we throw food away because our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Another pitfall is racking up the stuff that is meant to be good for us. Irrespective of whether it’s healthy, too much of anything will work against us. More doesn’t necessarily amount to better value.
5. STORE IT, SAVE IT
Do a bit of research on how to store food properly using wet towels and re-usable containers. Many fruits and vegetables actually benefit from being outside the fridge, leaving more space for perishable leftovers. And if there’s still some left over, donate it to someone who could use it.
6. GET TECHNICAL
By adding new cooking techniques and recipes to your repertoire, you will not only stretch your food budget further, but will also add a new dimension to your cooking. Pickling or making jam are great ways to preserve fruits and vegetables. And if you’re implementing a personal sugar tax, use chia seeds instead. Pickled vegetables, incidentally, make great toppings for sandwiches or salads.
Trends come and go, but the fact that leftover food can be a delicious meal is nothing new. From French Toast (or pain perdu, which literally translates as “lost bread”) and hearty soups to frittatas, hummus, and banana bread, the options are almost endless.
We just need to start looking at food’s potential rather than its superficial imperfections.