Yesterday I had the pleasure of being part of a webinar featuring Alice Waters. Let me say right now that SHE is my other foodie crush! Although there is another, and I’m not committing to just these three, but Alice waters is huge for me. She is, in my eyes, a Kitchen Priestess and getting a chance to watch her speak from her kitchen about her latest book, her ideas about food and cooking and then… to watch her make a perfectly simple salad? I swear, I swooned. I did.
There is something so intimate for me about stepping into a cooks kitchen. You get a glimpse at their well worn tools, their pantry and the ingredients the keep on hand for their own special brand of alchemy. You get to see their colors and how much light they work with and the cutting boards… dear goddess! A cutting board for me is the central altar of a kitchen. It may sound over the top, but it isn’t. The kitchen for a conscious cook is where nourishment turns into a celebration of family, of bonding and of the rituals that bring people together. This is important stuff.
So, not only did I get to watch as Alice spoke to us from her kitchen, but her book, In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart was photographed in its entirely within Alice’s kitchen. This alone makes the book worth getting, but its more then that. In The Green Kitchen is about learning food by heart. She covers simple techniques that not only make food preparation easier, but also demystifies basic preparations in order to make cooking from scratch not so daunting. According to Alice, “Once you learn certain techniques by heart, you know them forever.”
“Learning by heart” is a phrase that really speaks to me and is what drew me to this book. Its a good part of the reason why I normally cook without recipes because there is an intuitive knowing that you can practice with food preparation when you begin to rely on what you know ‘by heart’. The level of intimacy with the food you are preparing increases and so the level of nourishment and benefit received from it by those taking it in, increases as well. Its sacred alchemy.
Here is an excerpt from her bio over at the Chez Panisse site:
“Alice Waters, chef, author, and the proprietor of Chez Panisse, is an American pioneer of a culinary philosophy that maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. She is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” Over the course of nearly forty years, Chez Panisse has helped create a community of scores of local farmers and ranchers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures the restaurant a steady supply of fresh and pure ingredients.
In 1996, Waters’s commitment to education led to the creation of The Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School: a one-acre garden, an adjacent kitchen-classroom, and an “eco-gastronomic” curriculum. By actively involving a thousand students in all aspects of the food cycle, The Edible Schoolyard is a model public education program that instills the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future. The program is nationally recognized for its efforts to integrate gardening, cooking, and sharing school lunch into the core academic curriculum. Alice established the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996 to support the Schoolyard and encourage similar programs that use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower young people. The success of The Edible Schoolyard led to the School Lunch Initiative, whose national agenda integrates a nutritious daily lunch and gardening experience into the academic curriculum of all public schools in the United States.
Waters is Vice President of Slow Food International, a nonprofit organization that promotes and celebrates local artisanal food traditions and has 100,000 members in over 130 countries.”
Long before my beloved Jamie Oliver set out on a mission to revolutionize schools, Alice was setting the ground work. She is an amazing pioneer in the locally grown, fresh ingredients movement. And it makes you wonder, how in the world did we find ourselves in a place where locally grown and fresh had to be a movement???
Here are links to read about Alice Waters and what she is doing in the world:
The Edible School Yard
The Chez Panisse Foundation
And of course the book! Its a must buy. Truly.
Andra, this one is a must have! Really. Its gorgeous and it lends a kitchen library a wonderful resource to pass along. I love it!
Belinda @zomppa says
I agree! She is a visionary!!
She is… And I almost want to say that she was ahead of her time, but really? It keeps bringing me back to wondering how it is that we all got to a point where eating fresh real food and cooking is a movement? How did we veer so far off the track. Thank the goddess for people like Alice and Jamie Oliver and others that are helping us all get back on track.
Thanks for the post. There is nothing better than simple ingredients and wonderful, healthy food. So many newer cooks/chefs have lost that.
One Less Thing says
I was scheduled to attend and my computer crashed! Ugh, what timing. Great post and wonderful tribute to an amazing person. Being in Berkeley I've followed her for a long time and have several books.
Thank you for sharing this! She is one of my biggest food crushes also. Her cooking is so simple yet so exquisite. And there is something about her personality that is simply magic. My blog has several of her recipes and I have several of her books but have not yet seen this one. Might be time for a bookstore run 🙂
Thanks for sharing a truly inspirational post.
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naturally gourmet says
I am totally a fan of Alice Waters. I've met her several times back in the late 1970"s when I first got into natural fresh foods. We share the same philosophy and passion for food. She was right instep with the times back then. I'm glad the movement is making a resurgence for a new generation.( Did it really ever disappear?). I love your site, beautifully done!
I'm going to have to find this book – I love the concept of "learning by heart" – what a wonderful way to think about certain things like cooking food. Sacred alchemy indeed.
We've got a small slow food movement in our area, E is already joined in, we are both excited to see how we can be a part of moving it forward.