A spoon is a spoon…

I don’t believe in gourmet cooking and I doubt I ever will. Although I understand the concept and the idea it represents I sincerely think its non-germane. I have always been an avid eater, a sensual lover of food who cook with heart and instinct – with instinct comes the bravery to improve. And improvisation is a useful skill that is neglect by the whole lot of us. I have never been to a culinary school and I don’t deem it necessary to make me qualify as a critique to actually say I don’t believe in gourmet cooking. I don’t particularly hate it, I just don’t believe it.

I am not a person of means nevertheless that is not my excuse for my skepticism. The way I see it “gourmet” food is a term; a pseudo approach to food to make it unnecessarily diverse and expensive. I’ve read some article on gourmet food and a few lot of them safeguard and commiserate the concept of gourmet by saying that it does not have to necessarily rare, expensive and exclusive. But here’s my defense, that’s exactly what gourmet stands for. Their major aspects includes an ingredient of high quality, special presentation and high sophistication. You never hear of a cheap gourmet right? And you probably never will. Because that is what they are RARE, EXPENSIVE AND EXCLUSIVE.

I came from a very small town called Aizawl ; a quiet, peaceful place in the north-eastern part of India tucked away from the rest of the world by the walls of endless green rolling hills and profusion of trees and orchids. And us the Mizo people have a wide variety or food, from fermented soybeans that smell like cat’s urine to exotic range of herbs that are not found anywhere else in the world (or at least I thought so because I‘ve never seen them anywhere else. Trust me I‘ve googled it enough). My point is we eat almost anything. Be apathetic to judge. When our ancestors came from China a few centuries back, they have to survive in the vast unknown jungle eating everything they could find. It was not a matter of a choice but inevitability and they have to make use of whatever they found like it or not. Anyway leaving out all the irrelevant details about my culture which inadvertently take up more space so far than I realized; my point is we eat snails (YES, SNAILS) and I definitely hear the eweee reaction but so does the French. Everything sounds enticing in French right?? And the French cuisine is the world’s standard when gourmet food is discuss. Snails = Eweee, escargot = oohs and ahhs. Basically it’s the same thing except that the snails we eat are smaller and are found in freshwater while the French’s are found on land. Open a restaurant and on the first page of the menu under the promontory “Our Speciality” printed in bold letters “Escargot cuit aux herbes séchées” (google translate) which in English means nothing delightful but “Boiled snails in dried herbs” and you’re bound to be the most famous “gourmet restaurant” in your vicinity. Appealing right? It’s all in a name. Give them a fancy non de plume and everything will sell. See what I mean?

Many of you might think that’s exactly the point. This is where the ideals and convenance of gourmetism comes in, change the preparation from bland boiled to saute and oven-baking followed by presentation with a slice of lime or a stick of celery which serves no purpose than just to stay there to make it “appealing”. Next you give it some fancy name and there you sell it. Congratulations you sell manipulative consumer itself. And you just eat a manifested representation of manipulative consumerism. Hear yet a better example – opinions varies but some people consider the casu marzu (Sardinian maggots infested cheese) to be a gourmet for refined palates . They are illegal in the only place where it is produce – Sardinia. Very rare and occasionally only on the black market you have to pay about three times the price of a regular pecorino as it is available only as a black market item. They have a very good reason to be scanty – Who wants cheese with maggots? A harsh critic from someone whose culture have appreciated the eating of snails huh?

I take this matter pretty seriously. I stopped playing gourmet ranch( a facebook game) because it has the word “gourmet” in it. I know it sounds very silly, it’s just a game right? And yea a jail is just a house should come bulleting from my mouth if anyone ever assume how asinine I am because its simple – bottom line I don’t play let alone follow what I don’t believe in even when it comes to petty issues like a facebook game. So to sum it all up, do you really know what you’re eating when you’re ordering a gourmet raw vegetable salad which you’re willing to pay nine times more which basically consist of tomatoes and basil leaves in between with that particular tomato “being” nurtured in the cool breeze of the Swiss Alps. It’s not a rocket science, make it yourself. Cut the tomatoes, add basil leaves and finish it off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. So in the future when I open up my own little restaurant and some “gourmet” food critic tell me that my dish lack something because the tomatoes were not plucked from the ground at full moon of autumn to guarantee the firmest textures, dried under the shade of an ancient old spruce trees until the sweetness is just right and not graded by professional sorters, I’ll just slapped him across the face.  And my advice to you : think twice. You will save a few extra bucks.

Your’s in buttery melts,

Mimikyo Lalrempuii.