Monday, January 29, 2018

Fred Morin, One Of Canada's Most Celebrated Chefs, On Bringing Back Home Economics

Many years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Beef's Fred Morin when we were on a panel together at the Trottier Symposium. Since then we've managed to keep in touch. If you don't know Fred, he's a wonderful, ribald (don't say I didn't warn you), irreverent, French Canadian who is passionate about food and cooking, whose restaurants are ranked among the world's best. Last week Fred contacted me last week wanting to write about home economics and of course, I said yes.
Lunch is a chore and dinner barely squeezed in between school, homework and whichever sport or instrument you practice vicariously thru your offspring. For much of us the saving grace is the anonymous, and all to easy drive thru. Pardon the pornographic and graphic reference but the drive thru is no different than the glory hole, the source and recipient remain nameless in this rapid exchange of sin.

You see, meals went rapidly from something you made to something you buy, quickly ingested this brilliantly engineered modern days ration pack even comes wrapped in easily discardable containers, because, why would you be reminded of your sins beyond your health and/or weight!

Cooking, like football is played by a few skilled professionals on weekly tv shows, but like football, played by less and less of us. A quest for complicated taste and showy presentations has led many to head the way of the drive thru, paralyzed at the very idea of cooking a dinner that wouldn’t live up to Gordon Ramsay’s standards.

It may sound as a betrayal to my craft to preach simple meals but it actually very well may be the gateway to actual and beneficial cooking. a routine menu simplifies the arduous chore of shopping and your time in the kitchen. Don’t fret; simplicity is not the antagonist to diversity, you can season and twist a dish as you wish!

Cooking was, un-rightfully so a gender specific chore, in school, the boys would have shop class and the girls, home economics, only my generation was fortunate enough to experience both, Between the time schools became co-ed, and the day they removed the stoves and sewing machines to make place for room fulls of Coco 3 computers.

The secrets of braising, the skills of chopping, peeling and searing are all but lost!

We may project our own likes and professions, and pretend our kids need more coding, chess, nutrition, and organic farming classes, perhaps as a trained chef and cookbook author I’m am a little guilty of that.

Not overloading their ever morphing frontal cortex with page loads of facts on nutrition is crucial. I may be sounding like I’m metaphorically wiping my boots on my gracious host’s best Persian rug by denying the need for nutritional education in schools, while a guest on his nutrition blog (ed note: I agree with Fred), it’s unnecessary to provide tools for obsessive calorie counting, more label reading and macro nutrients deciphering to a generation who already has a very conflicted relationship with the simple act of eating, in fact, most ingredients you would want to cook do not even have a nutritional label!

I don’t want my kids to learn how to blowtorch meringue or to make spherical ice for mocktails, not yet, instead I want them, their friends and class mates to grow up with a comprehension of cooking that will set them up for life, with the ability to perform daily culinary tasks, whether they choose grass fed pasture raised hormone free Angus steak or certified authentic Kobe massaged beef, it’s up to them to decide, later!

Fred (all in his words) co-owns Joe Beef, Liverpool House, Mon Lapin, and Vin Papillion restaurants in Montreal, and is the co-author of The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. He fathered three offspring that currently prevent him from living a second youth behind the stoves. He also wishes he had gone to College. He divides his time between being fat, becoming slim, being slim and becoming fat. He lives close enough to Montreal, to call it Montreal. And you can follow him on Twitter