Hunting menus and plagiarizing collectors

by | Sep 4, 2011 | food

So I find myself committed. Tomorrow I’m to cook for a few friends, and as always I’m trying to plan the menu in advance. I’m uncertain if this is hereditary, but my grandmother moved around the kitchen like a chess board. I remember us having breakfast one morning as she thought out loud “What will we have for dinner?”. She was always thinking two moves ahead…

Tomorrow’s will be a set menu, I feel a-la-carte would be pushing it.

Preparing a menu is an interesting process: how many other things are so clearly a mishmash of stolen ideas? In some ways it is like playing with a covers band. I’ll be serving someone else’s food, but trying to add my individual touch. And the audience appreciates the familiarity. Particularly on a warm Sunday evening, when, beer in hand, a rendition of Crowded House goes down much like your mother’s roast.

I’m fairly comfortable with culinary plagiarism, and practice it on a daily basis.

Perhaps of more interest is the amount of time which many, like myself, spend thinking of what our next meal will be. My own repertoire is certainly not worth considering at such lengths. Traditionally, however, we evolved obsessed with where our next meal would come from. Should we walk kilometres and kilometres to pick fruits and root vegetables, or perhaps organise a mob to hunt down a deer. Days upon days wandering the woods in search of such a prey, no doubt spending most of the time in a state of near-starvation, anger and delirium. Now, being well aware that Coles has a nice range of meats, veggies and enough carbos to feed Djibouti, surely we no longer need to preoccupy ourselves with where our next meal is, but somehow we’ve substituted it with what our next meal will be. I’m not sure if that is evolutionary empathy, or culinary baggage.

I think tomorrow I’ll take all the credit. I single-handedly caught the barramundi, picked the lychees, brought the coconuts down from the trees, and while I waited for the rice to grow, I invented Thai food. Why not?