Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sustainability and slow food

Quite some time ago I read a memoir of anthropologist Margaret Mead by her anthropologist daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. Tonight while sauteing onions, a radical moment in the book re-visited. Mary Catherine, newly-wed, was confiding in her mother that her complete disregard for cooking was causing turmoil in her marriage. And Margaret, truth-seeking keen observer of parts unknown, suggested that Mary Catherine simply simmer some onions to create the hearth-and-home feel before her husband arrived home. The headline in my brain was: Margaret Mead suggests daughter just fake it!!!

It took me a while (okay, so what's a decade or two amongst friends?) to realize that MM was not suggesting that the onions be pawned off as dinner until the table was set and the jig was up. I think she was saying: Dear, why not defuse the situation with the essence of what is being missed? And perhaps, (this part has absented itself from my memory) create space for a dialogue about managing expectations.

With our green antennae on alert, many of us have great expectations for the green materials and technologies that should be coming out of the kitchen any minute now - and highly sensitive feelers for fakery. But let's let it waft a bit before we pounce. Is it a sincere attempt at a start? Or a false claim of bouillabaisse?

The eco-resort honeymoon is over. Let's talk about what's cooking.

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