Lucy is a Melbourne-based artist who captures the everyday with her photographs. Her days are both sumptuous and serene—filled with darkness and light—punctuated by glorious food. Her meals are produce-driven, definitely seasonal (she’s an avid gardener) and mostly vegetarian. She blogs at Nourish Me and co-authors An Honest Kitchen, an e-magazine about good food without the fuss.
Describe your dish
A potato salad, rustled up from what was to hand and what looked good in the garden.
How does your dish portray your relationship with food?
Food that’s sometimes pretty, but always practical. Not sure I can recall what was in that bowl exactly—I often cook on the hop, adding things from the garden as I go—and that’s part of the fun. It was vegetarian for sure, most probably vegan because at the time I was going nuts for avocado-based salad dressings.
The potatoes were, I can say with absolute certainty, organic, bought on one of my weekly veg-buying trips to Queen Vic Market. I’m not particularly attached to many things in life, but a friend describes her weekly trip there as a church visit. I’m happy to see it in those almost-religious terms, too. Truth be told, I’m not too fussy about the organic label, but I am fussy about my vegetables being pesticide-free. This is partly because I want to be sure that the food we eat is clean and partly because I want to reward farmers who work hard at maintaining their (read “our”) soil.
My family divide our time between our (small) farm in the Macedon Ranges and a little rental place in the city. Up in the hills we grow as much in the way of vegetables and fruit as we can, work at improving our soil and our skills, and we have big plans for the future, but for now, we’re just happy that we can eat well from things we’ve grown ourselves. Gardening, it seems, is in my blood and I couldn’t be happier. Getting your hands in the dirt, seeing how each season of growing unfolds, these are things that I’m not sure my younger self would have understood as it all moves along slowly, but the rewards are well-worth the wait.
What inspired your food behaviour?
My dad is a great gardener and my mum is a great cook—a natural baker—and she taught me, at an early age, how to read a recipe. I cooked by her side a lot as a small person, and it’s amazing how much I picked up just by watching them both at work. I’ve always loved cooking and eating, so read cookbooks voraciously in my 20’s and cooked like a woman possessed! Over the years I’ve drifted in and out of vegetarianism so many times I’ve lost count—these days, I don’t put a name on my eating style—but I eat vegetarian food most of the time, love fish and very occasionally will eat meat when it’s all I can think about.
At University I shared a house with a friend who introduced me to the idea of whole foods and it was revelatory this notion—to me—that you could cook beautiful food without refined produce. It took a while for all of that to sink in. In 2006 I studied a component of a naturopathy degree called Food as Medicine, read Peter Singer’s Ethics of What We Eat and taught myself to run. I’ve relaxed my very strict regime a little since then, but a lot of what I learned is with me still.
We’ve lived in lots of houses over the last ten years, but in each place I’ve made sure there was at least something edible growing, usually just a collection of well-loved potted herbs, sometimes more. Tending them was a joyful, calming thing to do. I used to read Maggie Beer’s books and dream of the day that I too could walk outside and pick my own artichokes, so I worked on the idea, kept reading and thinking and dreaming. Glad I didn’t give up on it.
What do you wish for the future of food?
I would love to see even more people growing their own food, learning the skills of seed-saving, seasonal planting, enjoying the physical exercise it entails. We have the perfect climate for that, here. Having people see meat as the garnish on their plate, not the constant central feature of every meal would make me happy. I also hope that we’ve not over-fished our seas.
I’d like more love for our farmers and less love for chefs, simple as that. I’ve been wowed in restaurants, but I’ve been absolutely floored by fresh produce far more often.
If you’d like to tell your food story, hit me up @flavourcrusader or email me at info AT flavourcrusader DOT com