Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspired by Food at 4am in Nova Scotia

I feel inspired. I didn't wake up in the middle of the night because of jet lag or because the copious amounts of chocolate that I indulged in at the Chocolate Salon Dinner last night at the Culinary Tour Summit in Nova Scotia.

I woke up because my mind was on fire with ideas. Being invited to the Culinary Tour Summit in Nova Scotia has reconnected me with myself and the reasons why I have always been drawn to working in the food industry. I woke up with a craving for food so fresh and so flavorful that I wanted to embed my brain with the memories of its flavors of Nova Scotia before I leave. I want to embed a memory so strong and so deep that it will make me in the future pack my bags and to make this journey back to Nova Scotia to enjoy these tastes again. So I am up at 4:30am having a mug of wild blueberry juice and having spoonfuls of matured, organic, artisan made cheddar cheese.

For me, this is culinary tourism at its core: it taps into memories. It creates a sense of peace and happieness through the senses. Through the tastebuds, you can find a location, a center, a place to call home. Kitchens are often the places of comfort in our houses because that is where the food is. It's where the good smells whaff around as happy images in our minds-yet can you smell a memory? The kitchen is the hearth where people lovingly preparing a dish. Sure the kitchen sustains our lives, but it gives us much more.

It is not just the kitchens, but restaurants where we have memories, but these memories are more controlled. You take people to your absolutely favorite restaurants when you expect a lasting friendship or relationship. You don't go there to tell them bad news. 

Now being in Nova Scotia, I have relearned it's more than just the kitchen: it's the farms. The farmers are the ones that transform the fundamental building blocks of life and transform them into life. It is their hard work, love, and care that we take to form ourselves. We are what we eat and we should start from the very basic level.

If you were at a restaurant and you found a hair in your food, you would send this back because it shows the carelessness of the cook. So, why wouldn't you send back an apple or a bunch of spinach if you found out it was recklessly sprayed with pesticides?

And we always say don't upset the chef at restaurants because we fear that the chef will possible contaminate the food. Now I say, don't upset the farmers, but I fear we have done so already. And they have have responded by "spitting" on the food.

Well, not all of the farmers. In Nova Scotia, I've met a number of people that care for all the people; they are good Samaritans that help others without being asked. After all, we are all kin; we are all human. What is good for one human (generally) is good for another. These farmers go out of the way to educate and cure others. These are the people that culinary tourism should be for- not for just for the travelers.

The Culinary Summit made me realize that Culinary Tourism is not just for travelers that want to visit a new land. Culinary Tourism is for the land locals call home. Culinary Tourism is a way to sustain the farmers that are keeping our homes, our lands, and our environments alive. These people hold traditions and keep us human. These people change the world, literally everyday by planting and growing and pruning. These people change the world.

We are what we eat. We are the sun in the sky, the wind, the trees, the plants, the seeds, the soil, the minerals, the water. We are not computers and blackberries and ipods and Toyotas and twitters. We are not high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, xantham gum,  We are humans that are sustained by food and the food is sustained by farmers and the farmers are sustained by the environment. The world is too big to try and save the environment all at once. We need to start local. We need to start where we live. And each place that places the importance on local will change the global ubiquitousness that makes all french fries or burgers taste the same. Let's fight global and be local.