Sharon Lee is me! I’m an expert eater, competent cook and sporadic gardener. I’ve been working in the digital industry as a designer for a lifetime; I strive to make things appealing, engaging and easy-to-use. I’m refocusing my efforts on fresh food… to do pretty much the same.
Describe your dish
This is the first real Indian meal I cooked. It consisted of Dal Makhani, Bhuna Gosht, Saag Paneer and rice.
How does your dish portray your relationship with food?
I’m going through a “breaking food barriers” period right now. My barriers are less a skill or confidence thing, more of a bothering-to-do. For that meal, I bothered to stock the pantry with Indian spices, soak the lentils and cook an Indian meal from scratch.
It does sound like a lot of effort but it was delicious and easy to cook. I’ve since bought an Indian cookbook, which I’m cooking my way through now. The pages are getting grotty; always a good sign.
My cooking tends to be very slow, of ethnic origin and from scratch. It contains produce from farmers’ markets or local merchants. By frequenting these suppliers, I believe I’m helping to maintain a vibrant economy and community.
And eating quality, fresh food—to boot.
What inspired your food behaviour?
The idea of fresh food was instilled into my brothers and I at an early age. I recall visits to pick-your-own farms… berry ones in Australia and a rambutan one in Asia. Sun shining. Me, devouring the sweet, juicy harvest. I remember gnawing fresh sugarcane—just cut—from our suburban backyard. My mother tended her vegetable garden. Our orange juice was squeezed fresh. Our meals were cooked from scratch.
One of our neighborhood friends was of Italian/Hungarian heritage. Sometimes I’d get lucky and visited when his mother was making fresh fettucine. It was mesmerizing. I ran home carrying my loot. The fettucine tasted so rich with eggs, freshly laid by their backyard hens.
I loved to eat eggplants, but didn’t know how to cook them. And then my new flatmate made eggplant parmigiana for me. It was extraordinary; I had to cook that dish! Living with her, my food knowledge grew and skills improved. She was a great teacher.
And then I moved to England. With access to delicious, fresh produce being so poor, my food habits were slowly eroded. Why eat fruit if it tastes like cardboard? So I didn’t. Why cook from scratch when it tastes so ordinary? I bought ready-meals in boxes.
When I returned, I ate a juicy, succulent strawberry, picked ripe by the farmer.
Mouth and fingers stained from the juice, I realised: I’m home.
What do you wish for the future of food?
I wish that we defend access to fresh produce—grown with love and pride—by frequenting farmers’ markets and local merchants.
I wish that we maintain our food knowledge and skills by passing them between friends, family and neighbours.
I wish that we give children the best chance of a healthy life by surrounding them with growing food.
The fight for dominance by food corporations has real economic, social and health impacts for both farmers and families; I want to fight back.
If you’d like to tell your food story, hit me up @flavourcrusader or email me at info AT flavourcrusader DOT com