|fine food from my garden|
Growing and eating much of our own food has given us a different perspective on food and dining out. We used to go out for pub dinners every couple of weeks, but then we both realised that most of the "food" was either frozen and deep fried, or straight from a packet, and it was making us feel sick. It does make it difficult to order from a menu when you can mentally cross off all the options that you have in your freezer that are going to be better quality and better tasting than anything the pub is going to serve up. And in rural Queensland, the options for fine dining are pretty limited beyond pub meals! Now days we prefer to cook our own food, and we only go out to eat if we know the food is going to be really good. We would rather pay more for the occasional good meal than frequent awful pub food.
When I heard about Ronnie Scott's new book Salad Days on an ABC interview, I was intrigued and requested a copy from Penguin to review. The book aims to answer the question "In a culture that both pillories and idolises fine food, can it ever possibly be morally decent to spend $500 on a meal?". The book is short at only 45 large print pages, but it does make some very interesting points.
In the end, the only justification that Ronnie can come up with is that fine dining, or cuisine, is the food equivalent of art. He admits that its frivolous, but that we pay for the dining experience rather than the food. Which then raises the question, what is the difference between art and frivolity? In a consumer society, where do we draw the line between our "needs" and mindless consumption? Who hasn't spent a frivolous $500 on something, concert tickets, a holiday, a stereo, an artwork, a kitchen appliance? What's the difference?
I didn't actually expect this book to convince me that it was ok to spend $500 on a meal, but somehow it has made me consider that I don't think twice about spending $500 (or more) on things that I personally enjoy. So if Ronnie really does enjoy find dining, and that's how he wants to spend his money, who am I to judge? Personally, I would rather spend $500 on something that would help me to grow my own fine food, but that's my choice.
A very thought-provoking little book, thanks Ronnie! What do you think? Would you ever spend $500 on a single meal? Do you spend in other frivolous ways?