Every year, for the past several I’ve gone to Brussels to review grants for the European Commission. It is not a habitual exercise, however as I must be invited, and this is not a certainty. I love going and look forward nervously for the invitation every spring. I gain a huge amount of satisfaction and validation from the effort. For the past several times, when I’ve gone, I meet a group of friends at a Moroccan restaurant near the Bourse. On the recent visit, at this restaurant, I learned about what is known as the Paleo diet. Roughly, on this diet you avoid pulses, grains, dairy, and sugar. It is meant to help you feel better. It does, but you have to break a few habits first.
The hardest for me has been the milk in my coffee, the sugar, and the grains. I’ve had no difficulty eating the additional meat. I know getting rid of the sugar will be a good thing as it is habit forming–addictive even. On the diet, honey and more complex sugars are allowed, so it is still possible to find sweet tastes, but avoid the problems of refined sugar. This for me is a moral benefit, as is the exclusion of corn, which is in everything and gives Monsanto a large share of control over the food system. I’m choosing to limit the environmental negatives associated with meat consumption by trying to source locally and limiting the beef.
I’ll manage. I have support from not just my Brussels friends, but also a group of friends I have on social media –a Facebook group, actually, which is comprised of some friends I knew in Grad school and a few folk I’ve never met face to face. The joy of this group is the regular recipe posts combined with foodie discussions, including discussions of alternative cooking methods and considerations about how one might, for example, make persimmon cake without flour, buttermilk and sugar.
One recent post of mine was the dish in the photo, which I referred to as a fusion Tagine. Fusion because it combines a Moroccan cooking method, using British ingredients, while sticking to the principles of the Paleo diet. This pork dish (pork is not a traditional Tagine ingredient, neither is the hard cider) was wonderful. The meat was tender and literally fell apart. Upon posting the photo and description, I was given lots of positive comments from my Facebook friends–a condition that makes me want to contribute habitually.
This experience makes me think about cooking habits and why we don’t cook in a fusion practice more. I think It’s got a lot to do with habit and what we understand about what is the right way to do something. I think there is a need to reflect on what is at the basis of certain cooking practices and then apply those principles to new ingredients which may be geographically out of place with the cooking technology.
This is part of the WordPress Weekly photo challenge. The theme is habit. You can find it here