As artisans, countryfolk and practising members of Slow Food we consider it our duty to share our knowledge and skills to pass it on to another generation before they are irrevocably lost.
My husband Alex grew up in Monks Kirby which is the village in which
we live and knew many farmers and villagers whose families had lived
here for generations. Where once it was possible to live one's life in a
village without the need to go farther than a few fields or the next
village to buy a jug of milk or a piece of meat (if you could not grow or
catch your own), meet your partner for life and get married, see a Doctor
or be buried near to the family and friends with whom you grew up,
now it is a 15 mile round trip just to buy a gallon of fuel or pint of milk.
If you are not on the modern energy intensive merry-go-round of fast living
with a fast car and fast internet connection ("Some chance here!" - Alex)
country life can be very isolating without the social infrastructure or interaction where my husband first gained his skills and knowledge.
Squisito often teach young chefs or middle-aged 'life changers' who wish to learn how to make their own food or find out why the food we make at home tastes so different to similar looking food in supermarkets or restaurants. The recurrent theme is to rediscover the flavours and skills of past generations. Often this involves learning how our lives and society has changed to see how easy it is grow, rear and make you own food cheaply and safely since our food and shopping habits have changed more in the past 60 years than the previous 6000 years.
In Italy schoolchildren of all ages in primary school can identify and
name a variety of fruit and vegetables that would challenge the average
British supermarket shelf-stacker since they experience variety and
cooking at home and at school. It is not uncommon for parents to be
involved in the preparation of school dinners and often schools cook
ingredients grown by parents as part of an organised plan. Convenience
food from vending machines and food service suppliers are very far from
normal just as it was in our village school in up until the 1980's.
Increasingly people live and dine alone and often family members eat at different times rather than at the dining table. The emphasis is on convenience and speed rather than preparation and sharing of knowledge and experience. Although all the key points in our lives like Christenings, birthdays, marriage and funerals are still typified by family celebration and meeting around the table, our food has become devalued by fast living, poor quality and lack of variety.
Going out to dinner as a family in the UK has become prohibitively expensive - assuming children are allowed in the pub or restaurant you want to visit - and food tastes the same everywhere because it comes from the same handful of food service companies using standardised ingredients. Little wonder our children do not know what different foods are or how to behave and relate to each other and adults!
At Squisito we therefore look to Italy as our model of food and social
behaviour. We believe that good food should be a right and not a luxury,
that good food and conviviality should be encouraged whilst our
children should be shown the way because they shape the future of
our species and others.
Whilst we teach modern food science, Squisito make local food as our
grandparents used to do. We see food education and making food by
price, access and invitation as part of our duty as food producers
All you have to do is seek out old varieties and disappearing breeds locally and make a meal for your friends and family with ingredients and recipes you can talk about and share. Invariably, artisan food tells a story