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The Rambling Epicure

JONELL GALLOWAY Freelance food writer and translator, cooking instructor, recipe developer and tester

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I ramble around the world, mainly in Switzerland and Europe, looking for good food and restaurants. Until recently, I shared my discoveries with my friends on my blog, The Rambling Epicure, on genevalunch.com, where my posts are still available for viewing. I develop recipes using local ingredients, write about restaurants and local products and just about anything that is food-related.

But I wear a coat of many colors, so I am available for food writing of all types, including writing of restaurant guides; private cooking classes using my Spontaneous Cuisine method; organization of wine and food tastings, cooking demonstrations, and all food-related events; recipe development using your products; translation (French-English-Spanish) of food- and wine-related materials; design and conception of restaurant menus.

I studied cooking at the Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, and wine tasting here, there and everywhere in France and at CAVE S.A. in Geneva and Gland. In France, I worked for some years as a contributing editor for the English edition of the GaultMillau guide and as a food translator, while I ran a small cooking school in a château near Paris. I now live in Geneva, where I have been discovering the Swiss approach to gastronomy and oenology. One of my many interests is promoting Les Artisanes de la Vigne et du Vin as an ambassadress for this Swiss women wine producers association.

My cooking method is "spontaneous cuisine." Lessons consist of writing out a tentative menu based on seasonal, local products; going shopping for the products, and adapting the menu according to what is available and fresh; going to the wine seller to select a wine to go with the menu, then going home and cooking all afternoon with my students. The day ends with a candlelight dinner at the château (in the past), and now, at my chapel converted into a house in Chartres or in your home.

I have recently started giving Mindful Eating seminars and therapy for those who have problem relationships with food and eating in general, helping them reconstruct their lifestyle and relationship to food and eating.

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Op-Ed: Why I don’t like French salads

by Jonell Galloway

We all know what a Francophile I am, especially when it comes to food and wine.

But there is ONE thing the French do which really gets on my nerves!

In the first place, rare is the restaurant that uses good lettuce. Mesclun is considered some kind of luxury, and now that I’ve lived in Switzerland, I’m accustomed to eating the wild greens and mesclun fresh from the mountains. So the supermarket lettuce in France is really not to my liking.

The other thing that really annoys me is that they just throw a bit of vinaigrette on top of the salad, and the bowl is invariably too small to allow one to mix the greens and the vinaigrette without spilling it out onto the table, so I inevitably end up feeling like a klutz.

Of course, Julia Child's Niçoise salad, when made with top quality, fresh, local ingredients, is impeccable. Ironically and unfortunately, Nice is about the hardest place to find a good Niçoise. The tomatoes are invariably hothouse from Holland, even in the middle of the summer, and the green beans are frozen in the height of the green bean season.

My conclusion is that French restaurants most often just throw salads together, and don’t consider it real cuisine, so they can’t be bothered. But if you really like or yearn for a salad, this is disappointing, especially since the salads are overpriced, as if they were “real” cuisine.

Cooking smoke deadly threat in developing world

Cooking a hot meal is one the most basic, instinctive, nurturing ways to feed the body and soul of a loved one. Yet for nearly 3 billion people in the developing world with inefficient and rudimentary stoves, it yields an unsavory outcome.

Approximately 1.9 million people - mostly women and children - die prematurely each year because of exposure to and respiratory complications from poorly ventilated cooking smoke.

Click here to read rest of article.

Recipe: Frita, or Sweet Pepper and Tomato Compote

THE RAMBLING EPICURE

Recipe translated from the French and adapted by Jonell Galloway

Original recipe by Christophe Certain

Mediterranean countries each have their own version of sweet pepper and tomato compote. In France, they call it piperade. The Pieds-NoirsFrench colonials born in Algeria — call their version of this Mediterranean classic "frita". Unlike piperade, frita contains no garlic.

Read more

The Rambling Epicure

by Jonell Galloway

Video maker Nancy O’Mallon is always in search of a good story related to the plate for her site About Harvest, and this year she has been featuring tours of different wine regions around the world. In this video, we learn about New Zealand wine.

Mindful Eating: Farmers, the Land, and Local Economy

The Rambling Epicure

by Jonell Galloway

Many times, after I have finished a lecture on the decline of American farming and rural life, someone in the audience has asked, “What can city people do?” “Eat responsibly,” I have usually answered. Of course, I have tried to explain what I mean by that, but afterwards I have invariably felt there was more to be said than I had been able to say. Now I would like to attempt a better explanation.

I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think of food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as “consumers.”

—Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating, Center for Ecoliteracy

The Times They are a-Changin’: Move Towards a Local Economy

After a very difficult 2009, 2010 has been a time to talk about the importance, and even necessity, of maintaining and supporting a local economy. This is important not only to our health and taste buds, but also to our vital economic self-sufficiency. It is perfectly in line with the concept of Mindful Eating, and, by definition, involves local farmers as well as others who contribute to eating and drinking.

An apple grown down the road in Gland, Switzerland, will have a lot more vitamins than one that has traveled across the Atlantic. It will taste better, because it can be picked ripe, unlike one that is picked green and hard because it has to travel thousands of miles.

A Swiss-made pot or pan is not only of good quality and design, which can make us proud to be Swiss, but when we buy it, we are keeping the profits and the taxes in our own economy. I’m not talking about nationalism; I’m talking about survival in an increasingly precarious economic environment, wherever that might be.

And both the apple and the frying pan don’t use much fuel when they come from just down the road, so they’re environmentally friendly. They create less pollution.

Everybody comes out a winner when we buy local, when we practice Mindful Eating. Our economy is healthier, and so are our bodies.

Mindful Eating and Health

I grew up on Kentucky writer Wendell Berry’s Manifesto, in a state where people lived close to the land, where they loved it and respected it. Berry was already promoting the same ideas as Michael Pollan forty or fifty years ago.

One of his most down-to-earth quotes: “We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” We are now witnessing a complete turnaround in our attitudes toward eating, with programs like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move; Switzerland and France’s overwhelmingly successful La Semaine du Goût, or tasting week; Jamie Oliver’s revamping of British (and now American) school lunches; the administering of a tax on junk food in Romania; New York and U.S. federal) calorie label laws, and now, nutritional labeling in the U.S.

From health problems caused by obesity and lack of exercise, to the increase of childhood obesity and diabetes in the industrialized world, we have reached the point of “enough”, and we are slowly but surely becoming aware that we have to do an about face when it comes to our eating habits. We have to be mindful of our bodies and our health in the same careful way we tend to our gardens.

We have to go back to respecting nature, because it is nature that nurtures us.

Note: Although my ideas are similar to those of The Center for Mindful Eating in the U.S., my approach is not through meditation, but through a disciplined, conscious effort to eat healthily in our day-to-day lives.

What is the Role of the Land in Mindful Eating?

I go back to Kentuckian Wendell Berry. In Kentucky, like in Switzerland, the land is considered a priceless treasure. Like in Switzerland, driving through the countryside and looking at the cows in the pastures and the glow of the sun on the snow-covered mountain peaks is the equivalent of walking through a gallery of masterpieces at the Prado or the Louvre.

Like most Swiss people, Kentuckians live simply and modestly. They maintain a sense of integrity, honesty and clear-mindedness which many Americans have lost along the path to so-called progress. Their values have remained intact.

These values are not so very different from those of Swiss montagnards, who often speak many tongues, live and travel all over the world, make millions of francs, but still refer to themselves as “mountain people.”

For many of us, love of the land is in our blood and blood runs thick. It provides us with our sustenance, our food, and it provides us with our fun — mountain sports, hiking, and, in Switzerland, moonlit walks through the vineyards. And still today, in Kentucky, owning a farm is a tradition, almost a given, for a true Kentuckian, even if you’re a doctor, lawyer or banker.

The land is our art gallery, full of ever-changing masterpieces of nature; its value is instilled in our hearts as well as in our pockets, and we need to treat it with the same care as we would treat any priceless object. We need to react when it is endangered.

Mindful Eating means that all our actions are taken with the awareness that “nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do” (Wendell Berry).

The Mindful Eating Series

In the context of this concept of Mindful Eating, I plan on posting a series of articles that show people who are already practicing this in one way or another, without necessarily calling it by that name.

Click here to read the first post in this series, and interview with David John Kong-Hug.

Word mix courtesy of Pluck and Feather.
Cow photo courtesy of Spigoo.
White House garden photo courtesy of Beautiful Cataya.

THE RAMBLING EPICURE

by Jonell Galloway

End-of-September Farmers Market in Geneva, Switzerland: a slideshow.

Get serious about what you put in your mouth!

Me, Jonell Galloway

Thanks to askbryan and link he found michaelpollan.com.

THE RAMBLING EPICURE

by Jonell Galloway

A Florentine Eating Experience 2: a slideshow.

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