Confused thoughts on Jamie Oliver

So Jamie Oliver has been at it again. Criticising the poor for have too many large televisions when they could be spending their money on better food.

I have a love hate relationship with Jamie Oliver a lot of which is born out of jealousy. I can remember watching his first series of The Naked Chef and thinking you bastard. He made it look so easy. It was the sort of cooking I was doing at home and there he was on the tv saying to the world at large that cooking good food was not really that difficult and if you want you can do it to.

The recipes in his books worked. There was no great magic or special skill involved.  He was making it clear that all that a lot of good cooking required was a bit of self confidence and some good ingredients. So long as you kept it simple it would be difficult to cock up. I taught myself to make basic bread from his books and although I tend not to follow any recipe now I still tread the path that he set out.

I am not a great one to judge but somewhere along the way I think he has a point. It is naive of him to think that we should all be reverting to some sort of Med utopia where cheap fresh veg is piled high for the having from any market stall and available for the feckless poor to spend their money on instead of tvs. But I think he is right in that somewhere along the way there has come about a disconnect in our relationship with food and how we eat largely driven by the supermarkets (and the big business behind them).

It would be interesting to compare how the price of tvs has dropped over the last thirty years compared to the price of food and the proportion of our income they each take up. I suspect that the price of both has been driven down and the argument is more to do with the fact that any of us has to carry out some sort of balancing act between the food that we eat (both in respect of its costs and the time taken to prepare) and having that piece of electronic equipment we require be it a tv, an ipod or a new Apple Mac.

And there the debate is placed firmly in the midst of those with money to spend. Those whose shelves are groaning with cookbooks from Jamie Oliver to Moro and the new Ottolenghi, all filled with beautiful pictures and beautiful things to eat. Those who despite all that choose to opt for the convenience of their local supermarket rather than spend time and effort getting their food elsewhere. A large part of that does of course come down to time and convenience. It is only Sainsbury or Tesco that is going to be open when I come home from work and I say that because I am as guilty as anyone.

But it is here that the battle lines should be drawn. Amongst the people who do have the money to spend on good food but choose not to do so.

I suspect that this would involve a small element of shooting the hand that feeds him for Jamie. But if he is to achieve a real food revolution then maybe he needs to be looking at those who have an unused copy of one his books on their shelf?

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