Alumentum - food, fuel, nourishment, provisions, sustenance, maintenance
Food. A source of sustenance and energy, without which, the human body will wither away, decay and perish. But food, is so much more than that. It can be provocative and sensual and has the power to change a hangry beast into a gentle, warm giant. One could even say that our hominid ancestors were not satisfied with the food they consumed and thus decided to master the art of fire to improve the quality of food that reached their taste-buds. Fast forward a few millennia and food today has become more than just the means of survival but a lucrative enterprise. It has become a scientific artform consisting of biological, chemical, mechanical and artistry techniques that can be admired by one and all. Or at least, it has become an admiration of mine that my younger self would never have thought possible. I owe thanks to this relatively new interest in the most part to my extremely talented and beautiful wife.
It was one of her wonderful creations that first caught my attention on the day we fell for each other - a chocolate and peanut butter icing cupcake. Little did I know that a couple of years later I would not just be devouring these delicious cupcakes sitting next to this intriguing lady, but I would be spending a considerable amount of time in her sanctuary assisting Kevoulee in devising more of these wonderful delights, delicious cakes and scrumptious cooks.
Throughout time, food in some format has played its part in our civilization. When the spanish conquered Mesoamerica, cocao beans was introduced to the rest of the world. At one stage it was even used for trading, before it became one of the highest consumed indulgents in the world. The trading of spices between Africa, Asia and Europe brought about various new flavours to what could have been rather dull and bland dishes around the world. But as much as food has affected nations and civilizations, it affects each and everyone of us on and individual level. Many of us have fond memories with loved ones that in one way or another incorporated a special meal or dessert. Some of us have favourite recipes that have been passed down between generations. Food even has an affect on our moods, decision making skills and physical activities. Then there are some of us that remember when times were tough and how lucky we were to have our family around us while we shared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. But no matter where you are in the world, food in some form has played a part on your life.
Prior to meeting Kev, my time in the kitchen was rather dull and bland. My personal skill involved a heart healthy omelette and french toast to the odd chicken-a-la-king without counting any braai-ing skills I had. Back then, the greatest baking modification I concocted was adding bubbly-chocolate pieces to a ready-mix chocolate muffin mixture. As delicious as these were, they came nowhere close to the cupcakes I tasted on THAT day nor everything else that has followed since then. From making pizzas on Valentine’s day to baking our own wedding cakes, the role of food in my life has definitely taken on a new splendour flavour. I have found an unexpected hobby of sorts that I surprisingly enjoy and the end product definitely justifies the effort put in. Kev has inspired me to be more involved in a kitchen and has made it such a fun and happy place to be. She has entrusted me as the sidekick to her heroic dishes. I remember the very first time I helped her grease a few baking pans - which I still think is one of the most important jobs in any baking creation - and since then I’ve assisted her in any way I can, for I know my reward will be a plateful of delightful paella , or a sensational slice of lemon meringue cake or a delicious pot pie or whatever superb creation comes out of her spectacular mind.
I would recommend to anyone looking for a bit of creative inspiration to challenge themselves into baking - grab your partner or child or loved one and immerse yourselves in the science and art of food making. Try to produce the perfect souffle or a few trigano panoramatos or even a simple lava cake. Even when times are tough, don’t lose that hope - take note of that moment and the people around you. Remember what it feels like and be grateful for what you have but make sure you have that burning desire to want more, to create more and to be more. Turn even a boring and bland sandwich into something spectacular and enjoy it, enjoy the company around you, even if it’s your own. Food is our source of energy and survival but it can be so much more fun and exciting and can be a great source of meaning in our lives. Sure, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is always great, but it becomes so much more delicious when you dip it in egg, add some crushed cornflakes and then toast it into a crunchy, gooey, warm and sweet breakfast to be shared with the love your life. It’s these little transfigurations to the mundane meals that Kevoulee has brought into my life and diet, and for that I will always be grateful.