Libby Cooks is the blog of someone who trained as an archaeologist, not a chef. It is a work of passion, not of technical skill. It is the ongoing story of the conflict between my inner culinary hedonist and my inner ethical locavore. I am going to cook with that imported turmeric and galangal, but I’ll rub them into a piece of local ethically killed pork, thanks. I love to cook. I love to have people around my kitchen bench or seated at my table cracking open bottles of Asahi waiting for food to be placed in front of them. I love the art and the chemistry and the alchemy that is cooking. Little gives me more pleasure than to give people food that nourishes them physically and spiritually. Food connects you with your world. Every time you make a choice to consume something you make a choice about how you are going to live in this world. Do you believe that the animal that died to feed you should have experienced a good life and a humane death? Do you believe that people should be living in extreme poverty and danger to provide you with a cheap cup of coffee? Are you happy to happy to ingest multiple pesticides, herbicides and fungicides with your fruit and veg? Will you support a system that sees most of the world’s foods production controlled by a tiny handful of agricultural companies?
Each time you put food in front of others you connect them with the choices you have made. Make the best choices available to you within your means. Love what you cook with and that love will shine through to the people you feed. 10 years ago, before I had children, and I could still call myself fit, young and lovely, I had wildly delusional aspirations of becoming some sort of martial arts superstar. I would achieve this through regular practice of internal martial arts and rigorous cultivation of my chi. I would be lithe and strong and able to effortlessly defeat my kendo playing husband. A couple of years ago, as I was preparing a meal of salted chicken and blackbean fish for a bunch of visiting kendoka the realisation descended: I was not destined to be the rogue hero, I was destined to be the old lady with the the big bum who runs the dojo. I was not destined for training, I was destined for cooking.
Perhaps this should have been a disappointing realisation. It wasn’t. The old ladies with the big bums who run the dojo are the heart of power – they are the ones who keep the world in food, love and health. I am happy for this to be me. So welcome to my dojo. It’s a funny place packed full of the things I’m interested in: local food, organics, Taoism, traditional Chinese medicine, political rantings, vague musings, all kinds of stuff. But most importantly you’ll find lots of great recipes, recipes for meals that have given me a lot of pleasure. So sit down, crack open an Asahi and imagine that you’re at my table.