Borough Talks: Is cooking a lost art?

Borough Talks
This summer the people at Borough Market have organised a series of food related talks and debates with leading faces from the industry and you are invited to listen, join in and pose your own questions.

Recently, on a beautiful summers evening I attended the first in the series: Is cooking a lost art?

The idea behind this session was to try to look at whether the art of cooking is becoming theory rather than practice. We all watch the odd cookery programme whilst we tuck into our ready meal or pizza we picked up on the way home. Are we just observers? Now, this is not something I do often but I know a lot of people this is true for. For whatever reason, time being the biggest factor, mid-week cooking has become this mountain for people to climb. So are people cooking less and less?

This talk instantly appealed to me. My parents didn’t really cook whilst I lived at home – my mum hated to cook (though made the best fry-ups and roast dinners, got the basics covered!) and my dad just doesn’t really cook. But, me. Well I bloody love to cook and I’m interested in anything food related! I could spend all day every day playing in the kitchen. I wish I could do it more. Now, why is it that I have such an interest in it? Within our family it may have been lost, eating out or meat and two veg every other night of the week, but my brother and I have turned that around. We both love to cook.

The evening was hosted by chef, food writer and broadcaster Sybil Kapoor.

On the panel:
Bee Wilson – food writer, historian and author of four books including Consider the Fork
Stephanie Wood – founder and director of School Food Matters, a charity supporting food education
Rosie Birkett – food writer, stylist, presenter and author of A Lot On Her Plate
Sarit Packer – Chef, author and co-founder of Honey & Co

The talk definitely did conjure up lots of questions and made me think. It was interesting to hear thoughts on the effect of TV programmes, are they educational and encouraging or does it represent our obsession with cupcakes and coffees and not represent that we need to eat real, affordable food? And then we have social media and the part it plays, with Instagram and Twitter making it more accessible. And of course education, which definitely has a massive part to play in cooking at home. How do we improve food education? How do we teach children to cook nourishing and affordable meals? This I felt was a little glossed over and didn’t really approach the issue with access to food.

There were only about 10 minutes at the end for questions, which, if they want to enable a debate it would have been nicer if there had been a little longer for this. There is just so much to say so I guess we could have talked all night!

Overall a great night, I’ll definitely be heading to some of the other talks.

Food vendors on the night
Koshari is a vegetarian street dish from the heart of Egypt; a healthy mix of rice, lentils and vermicelli enlivened with spicy tomato sauce and finished with caramelised onions and chickpeas. I discovered these guys in Spitalfields recently and love their food!
Khanom Krok provides authentic Thai street food, on the night we had prawn toasts and the most incredible thai green curry. The heat that grew as you ate it was intense and delicous.
No. 3 I’m a very bad blogger and can’t remember the name and I didn’t write it down! But it was some kind of vegetarian Indian Street food I think. They were serving a kind of puffed rice, again the spices were incredible! Very sorry I can’t remember who they were!

Need to know:

– The next talk is 28th July: What makes a good cookery writer? With Mark Hix chairing.
– They will take place on the last Tuesday of every month, held in the centre of the market. There is a different theme every month. They are running through to September.
– Tickets cost £15 and include a glass of wine and food from market traders – you can try a bit of everything so you definitely won’t go home hungry!
– It runs 7pm – 9pm.


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