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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 1. March 3 1968

Food: New Myths For Old

Food: New Myths For Old

Let me start this column with some sweeping generalisations.

The New Zealander is a person to whom food is no more than tucker to keep him going, fuel for the cells. He cares little for its taste, so long as he is thoroughly accustomed to it. He is probably happiest when downing a plateful of meat, potato and two veg.

If he dreams of food at all. he most certainly dreams of steak, eggs and chips, all grossly over-cooked and running with fat.

He regards French cooking with some suspicion; it represents all that is fussy and frilly about food.

Our lack of interest in new flavours is reflected in the high price and relative scarcity of such things as capsicums, artichokes and all kinds of herbs. All these seem to do well here: our climate is possibly better suited to capsicums say than such old favourites as cabbage or brussels sprouts.

Little attention is given to the cooking of vegetables.

In almost any of the popular recipe books you will find many pages on cakes, scones, etc., but none on vegetables.

There is a totally different emphasis in any book devoted to French cooking.

Certainly. New Zealanders are now nreoared to dine out more often, and are coming to accept wine. silver service and menu a la carte. But because New Zealanders arc so undiscerning of good food, many of the new licensed restaurants can serve the most apalling rubbish and still make a profit.

Even a sawmiller could count on the fingers of his right hand the number of restaurants in Wellington that make any attempt to serve good food.

I have heard of one establishment where even the manager refuses to eat the vegetables.

It is then hardly surprising that the quality of New Zealand wines is generally poor.

French cooking need not be either fussy, or time consuming. In her book "French Provincial Cooking." Elizabate David quotes Curnonsky as recognising four distinct types of French cooking: 'La Haute Cuisine, la cuisine Bourgeoise. la cuisine Regionale. et la cuisine Improvise?.' Only the first of these can be regarded as fussy or time consuming, and it is dying a natural death.

It is particularly to be associated with the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV. when Madame Du Barry and Madame de Pompadour were as versatile in the kitchen as in the boudoir, and Madsme de Maintenon founded the famous Cordon Bleu School

We should not try faithfully to reproduce the great dishes of France: they have evolved to suit a different climate, different habits and different farm and sea products. But we should know of its aims and methods, and apply them to the ahundance of relatively cheap food we have here With a little adaotion they could lead to vast imorovements in our table with little extra effort In later articles I will attempt to show how.