The philosophy of good food

I was brought up from day one to always choose the natural method to things.  It's not that mum wasn't busy, and had time to take the "long way round" in everything, in fact, quite the opposite, i'm one of the few kids that always had a working mum.  It's just that she just doesn't like things out of a packet where possible!
Apart from that, mum and dad have also instilled in me the importance of choosing the best ingredients.  They are so careful to the point of obsession, to choose what's in season, products at their tastiest, and this works out for everyone as it's also the cheapest!  We are not the kind of people to have a fresh tomato sauce in the middle of winter, or eat broad beans in autumn, unless we have taken the time when the products are in season to preserve them ourselves, whether it be in jars, or by freezing them when fresh.

Also, the balance of distinguishing when it's better to be buying local, or if imported products are better.  When we lived in Australia, there were veggies that played a huge part in our diet that we wouldn't even dream of getting here, although they are now freely available, imported, and placed in refrigerated greengrocer sections of supermarkets.  And the same the other way round.  I'm not even sure i ever saw mum make a fresh tomato sauce in Australia - why bother, when the tins of tomatoes were lovely and from Italy (cheaper and better than tinned australian tomatoes).  Sometimes you have to think about where a product GROWS better, and sometimes, the environmental factor of transporting it is overcome by the fact that they grow more efficiently elsewhere, needing less water, less pesticides, less petroleum based fertilisers.

In Malta, we have the luxury of actually having seasonal produce at our tal-haxix or green grocers.  They generally either gather at markets (is-suq) or you will find them on the side of the roads in vans, usually by their own fields.  They sell wares that are their own, plus from other local farmers in Malta, as well as imported vegetables.  Luckily if you find a trusty one, your vegetable buying experience will be so much better than if you have to buy your veggies at a sterile place like a supermarket.  In fact, many supermarkets have a veggie man right outside, and trust me when i say that it's SO much more worth taking the time to buy your veggies directly from them.  I must be fair and say that nowadays, there are green grocers operating semi independently from supermarkets.  Just don't try and ask them any questions about their produce though, unless you can find the answer on the price sheet. You'll just get a blank stare. 

I think the best thing to do with any place is to adapt your cooking style to the ingredients you have available.  I find myself using more traditional Maltese, Italian, Greek recipes here, because the ingredients are just HERE!  In Australia, i cook more with Asian food, again, because the ingredients are fresh and available. 

I believe that many peoples' taste-buds are so used to over-processed, over chemicalised (yes that's a word I just invented) food, laden with artificial flavourings, preservatives, and all types of corn, wheat and soy derivatives that they might even find that my food lacks some flavour at times.  Or that something they tasted out of a pre-prepared jar is better.

What I have to say to this - that they have forgotten, or never knew what the actual main ingredient tastes like.  I like omelettes to taste of eggs, and marinated pork to taste like pork, not a myriad of spices, sauces and herbs.  I use flavourings as an enhancer, not a masker of taste.  I want to taste what i'm eating, to be able to see that flavours are married well, but still taste almost every single individual ingredient that i've added.  I want this to the point of obsession.  But food is the ONLY thing i do every single day, without fail, so why not be completely in awe of it, of the nutrition and pleasure it gives us? 

I believe that food, all things, the preparation, the consuming, the purchasing, the sharing is a wonderful thing to be obsessed about.