What does real food taste like anyway?
I had someone over for lunch the other day. I made “my type of salad” (no lettuce, but there was a type of spinach instead)—everything from my aquaponics system and garden and raw except for the sweet potatoes that I roasted and added cold.
After making the salad, they asked what type of dressing I was going to use.
At this point, I think my jaw dropped.
There was a clash between embarrassment and horror.
Aside from my pesto-based dressing (super healthy and delicious, especially on poached salmon), I don’t use dressings.
I like the taste of my homegrown food.
You know, what the veggies, herbs, and fruit really taste like.
The embarrassment was because I hadn’t thought to put a dressing near my food, and for a moment, I thought that was wrong. Salads in shops always have dressing after all.
Then horror at the thought of hiding the taste of the veggies.
I asked if they could try it without a dressing, and if it needed one, I could easily make one (that your chef apprenticeship).
It took one mouthful and they had forgotten the dressing.
I spent many hours thinking about this, though.
How much sauce, dressings, salt, and flavours do others actually use?
This had me down at the supermarket the next day walking through the aisle.
Wow. My only thought was, why?
This got me thinking about food over the years and my experiences with the fruit and veg that you can buy and how food is often grown.
My grandparents grew everything on the farm organically, but back then, it didn’t need an “organic” label.
As a child and teenager, my mother’s “garden” included daily pesticide, fungicide, and fertiliser sprays.
That is when I stopped wanting to eat “food.” I was always sick. Just thinking about those spray and powders makes me feel ill now.
And that is when food stopped tasting like food and sauces became a predominant thing.
I can actually remember my mother putting a sauce on my grandmother’s food at the farm “to give it more flavour” and the argument that happened that night.
Nan’s food tasted amazing; Mum’s didn’t, and the difference was the sprays. Then Mum stopped gardening and bought vegetables with pesticides being used.
Our veggies were changed.
For me, gardening isn’t just a way to save money; it is to avoid getting sick.
Whenever someone brings store-bought veggies to me, I am sick. I break out in a terrible rash—hence my goal to grow 85 percent of my fruit and veggies yearly.
I’ve been growing mine for so long now that I am used to them tasting “real” again—the smell, the texture, the burst of flavour. Not a dull, “mini” taste, but a mouthful of orgasmic deliciousness.
Sound odd that I use that word?
Isn’t that what real food is though? An arousal of the senses, maybe not genital arousal, but still a mind-blowing one.
I know, it sounds weird.
When you eat food that is really great, it is incredible, and real food—real flavour—is just amazing.
I do love it when I share my produce with people, especially when cooked here and I know they get to taste the food.
It’s real. It’s full of flavour, clean, healthy, and fresh.
Not a cardboard-tasting semblance of food that we have forgotten “should” have flavour—that we cover with “dressing” and sauces to make it palatable.
This is why I am so passionate about aquaponics.
Not everyone can have soil gardens, and after having to move so often, I know what it is like renting and not being able to garden in the soil, or the soil being filled with chemicals from others.
But my aquaponics systems, I can take them with me. I can move; I can rebuild at no extra cost.
After the initial cost, there is minimal ongoing expense unlike container gardening.
And mostly, there is no chemicals added, as my fish would die.
Edible and healthy straight from the plant.