Learning to cook at Credo Café

When I was doing VCE, Mum went back to study, so I ended up cooking dinner some of the time. When I say ‘cooking dinner’ I’m pretty sure I was just boiling some pasta and heating up sauce from a jar.

That’s often what cooking was when I left home and went to Ballarat for university. I can remember getting a reputation as a bad cook because I had a friend around for dinner and I started heating up the pasta sauce, then added mince into the sauce to cook.

When I moved back into Melbourne and joined the community at Credo Café, where I learnt from Tomsy, Gin, Karen, Mel and Neil how to cook big meals. I really appreciated the experience of being able to learn from people who had a lot of experience and had the time to teach others. Each week we’d all be rostered on to cook at least once. Cooking for 50 to 70 people every week for a few years gives you the confidence to cook for large numbers. Some of the staple meals were spaghetti bolognese (also known as Tuesday surprise), beef stroganoff, red beans and rice (you’ll want to eat a plate twice), pumpkin lasagne and chilli basil beef.

Last night we were expecting to have a lot of folks around for dinner. We had some pasta already cooked in the fridge from earlier in the week and lots of beef strips in the freezer. So I cooked up some beef stroganoff, a Credo classic that I hadn’t cooked for a long time. I also cooked some pumpkin pasta, which one of my fellow residents at Credo had said was what he cooked whenever they had vegetarians around – although it ended up pretty different because we just need to cook with what we have available any given day. It reminded me to appreciate the time other people took to teach me.

#Foodstagram and sharing our food

A little while ago I wrote a bit about how we may use social media to curate an identity. In that post I was mostly talking about my use of Facebook. I recently started using Instagram again. Like Facebook, I think using Instagram carries the temptation to seek attention, but one of the things I wonder about Instagram is whether it can also help us to pay attention.

I wonder about what we’re doing when we post pictures of our food online? The cynical part of my mind thinks that we’re seeking to show off how good our cooking or choice in restaurants is (curating an identity as a connoisseur) and I think there would be truth in that.

But I also wonder about whether our desire to share pictures of our food is related to our tendency to eat alone? Even in my household, where we have someone cooking dinner for the whole household each weeknight, I’m still often eating on my own at breakfast or lunch time. Could it be that we have an inbuilt need to share our food?

Another thing I was wondering about is whether looking at our food through the lens of a smartphone is an opportunity to pay attention to what we are eating and how we are caring for ourselves. For breakfast this morning I had some toast with butter, Vegemite and tomatoes. (Is that bogan, or is it ironic bogan hipster?) It’s a pretty simple meal, but I took a photo because I was eating some fruit. I often don’t bother to eat fruit, even though when I do I find that I really enjoy it. Taking a photo was an opportunity to take note of something that was good for me and made me feel cared for.