Settle in for a story about grandmothers and chickens and simple things.
My 73-year-old mum (and grandma to 11 kids) has an absurdly busy schedule that would make most of you tremble in your boots.
One Sunday night I was at her house. We had both driven 300km that day which brought Mum’s weekly total to around 1200km.
From the fridge she pulled out a delicious smelling Moroccan chicken and olive dish.
On noticing it was a bit dry she then took a container of stock from the fridge.
“Mum,” I gasped, “when on earth did you have time to make chicken stock this week?”
She looked at me like I was some kind of crazy, shrugged and said “It’s not that hard, it’s just chicken and water and some herbs”.
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen: proof that our generation has made everything far too bloody complicated. We have websites and health blogs and wellness experts banging on about the new craze of broths. Complicated recipes and skimming and hours of work and patting ourselves on the back for being so wholesome and nurturing and righteous.
But do we need all this?
When I was growing up we used to drink a whizzed up banana with milk and egg. Mum called it a banana & egg flip and we drank it because it tasted good. I have since seen that drink marketed as “Banana Boost Super Protein Smoothie……with cinnamon!” and it comes complete with detailed nutritional information. Why? Is this helpful? Do we really need to know all this or do we just need to know that banana, egg and milk makes a nice drink? And drink it!
I love food. Food has been helping me make connections with people my whole life. I love the smell of a rich curry wafting through my house. I love the crunch of a perfect apple.
Cooking with my kids makes me dance. Lathering butter on freshly baked bread fills my heart. Chucking handfuls of cheese on a pizza helps our family laugh. For me, food is a powerful and positive connection to my family and my friends.
Our current preoccupation with food seems to be less about genuine health and happiness and more about scoring points and being seen to be doing the right thing—to be on the latest celebrity diet, to know all about activating almonds and dehydrating kale. In the process of gathering all this hip knowledge our generation has turned food into a big fat complicated mess instead of the beautiful, shared, and simple, nourishing connection that it should be.
So many women have lost their connection with food. Instead of being a friend, food has become an enemy. A wild beast that has to be kept under control. A beast they may learn to tolerate, yet never love. Instead of positive emotions, food is connected to emotions of guilt and anger and addiction and depression.
We know more about food than before, yet we’re more confused and unhealthy than ever.
We’re going gluten-free and dairy-free, raw and vegan, low carb and high fat.
We’re detoxing and juice cleansing and alkalising and intermittent fasting.
Do we really need all that? No. Well not unless you like to get your knickers in a knot about this sort of stuff.
What we really need is to go back to what 70 year old grandmas have been saying for generations: “It’s just a chicken and water and herbs.”
Go forth and count your blessings, count your chickens and make your stock.
Author: Kate Tonkin
Apprentice Editor: Traia Thiel / Editor: Renee Picard