As a preface to the section on meats in his book, Jamie’s Italy, Jamie Oliver has placed a picture of a recently slaughtered sheep. He admits it is a graphic photo, but he is trying to get across the concept that we should all be more conscious of our food: where it comes from, how it is raised, what operations and processes bring it to our tables.
I enjoy cooking. I enjoy preparing food. I try to make the meal that I present look good as well as taste good. I do this with zeal because I feel that we should respect food – respect it because so very often some sentient creature has given up its life so we can eat; respect it because over 10% of people in the world do not have enough food to sustain a healthy life.
When I present food to my guests, to my family, even when I am eating alone, I want the presentation of the dish to reflect as far as possible my deference to the work and sacrifices that have made it possible.
When I was growing up, both in our home and at the boarding school I attended, a food fight was an inviolable taboo. It was more than a waste, it was a desecration.
And thus I have always had a predilection for the grace before a meal. It was the momentary check on the headlong rush of our everyday life, a reminder that what we were about to embark on was not an entitlement but a gift of sustenance, both by the food’s consumption and by the opportunity to be together and share in a common ritual.
By their nature most graces are religious, but I’m not focusing on that spirituality here. The pause before a meal is a call to put aside, however briefly, the cares of everyday life and appreciate what we have.
Robert Carrier, the New Yorker who had such great success as a chef in his adopted England, said: "It has often been said that careless eating is as anti-social as careless cooking, and that a child should no more be encouraged to be indifferent to the flavour of food than to sing off tune."
While this is possibly more of a poem than a grace, it does have an association with food and thus I included it on this page.
It is a piece titled "On China Blue" by Sir Stephen Gaselee in 1938.
A friend of Gaselee, Ronald Storrs, characterized Gaselee as the person "who founded the Deipnosophists’ dining club, where the members, robed in purple dinner-jackets lined with lilac silk and preluding dashingly on Vodka, would launch forth into an uncharted ocean of good food and even better talk"