How often do you look in the cupboards or the fridge and bemoan there being nothing you can cook? We’ve become so addicted to over-stocking or buying specific ingredients for a recipe, that we’ve forgotten how to be resourceful. There’s something screwed up about this when we’re throwing away so much of our food completely untouched and yet there are more food banks than ever.
When I open the fridge this morning, it is literally bare. Well, by my standards. I’m the kind of person who loves to open the door to find Ceres herself waiting for me shivering with a cornucopia of her finest fresh, local produce. And just as I am about to bin the unopened but slightly decomposing bag of basil, I decide to open it. In fact it is mostly fine.
As I look around, a weary bit of lemon winks at me and then I spy the chiseled corner of a cheese I’ve recently discovered called ricotta salata; a hard, dry, salted form of the creamy version. It’s been in there for weeks. But here are the perfect bedfellows. I look around the kitchen to find a few slightly sad pine nuts, half a bulb of garlic and some olive oil. And as if waiting for this very occasion there is the overpriced bag of spaghetti I bought because it looked pretty with its blue paper and authentic label.
I know I make it sound easy but in two minutes, I had looked beyond the food void into the bounty of simple necessity. These are ingredients I really can just throw together in my food processor. Who knows, you might even find some frozen peas or prawns in the freezer you could add to make this even more sumptuous. Tonight for dinner, spaghetti con gamberi e pesto ricotta salata. Anyone hungry yet?
Our food needs are, in truth, fairly small. There’s just no need to overstock our fridges and cupboards. Perhaps we should all empty them once in a while. After all whether it’s the hypermarket or farmer’s market you like to shop in, they will still be there tomorrow.
A few years ago I visited a spice market in Morocco and spent the morning with one of the traders. It struck me how many women were buying a tiny paper of some ingredient or other they wanted for the dish they were cooking for lunch. They would, come back, he told me, in the evening for something else. Maybe we can take a lesson from that. Next time you look in the fridge and think it’s empty, look again.