I, Cook

Keith cooks paleo

In the Home Kitchen, getting my hands dirty…

Hi there!

My name is Keith, but I also answer to, amongst other things, Dad, and Kitan.

I was born slap-bang in the middle of the Swinging 60s, into a Northern English Working Class culture where simple, nourishing, home-cooked food was the norm, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Back then, there really was no other option. The resources (read: cash) were simply not there for eating out.

Even a humble pub meal was beyond our limited budget. The only time we ate anything that wasn’t prepared in our own kitchen was our once-a-week Saturday lunchtime meal from our local fish and chip shop, which was considered a great treat, and quite decadent. My, how times change, non?

Not that you will ever hear me complaining about this situation, quite the opposite, in fact. It gave me a true, in depth appreciation of what precisely constitutes “The Good Stuff”. It started me off down a path that ultimately gave me the skills and knowledge I now possess, which means in turn that in future, whatever the world may care to throw at me, I’ll always have the ability to eat well.

Variety, and all that…

Sometime in the early 1980s, I had the first of many food epiphanies. While on a visit to my sister’s place, I had my first taste of a curry, when she made the turkey based delicacy for which she was somewhat famous. This was something that our mother would never have even dared to contemplate cooking, and so was utterly beyond my experience.  I was, it has to be said, instantly addicted.

Seeing as spicy food was totally forbidden at my parents house, my curry eating sessions in those early years were limited to visits to my sister’s home, some 80 miles away. I planned visits around the merest hint of the appearance of a curry at her table, or I would pester her into submission until she gave in, and made one.

Give a man a wok…

Once I left school and entered the world of work I finally had money of my own, and my food horizons began to expand, with regular visits to curry houses, pizza parlours, and Chinese restaurants. I was still not cooking for myself, as yet, though. All that changed forever in 1991, when I was forced to quit heavy engineering after a back injury.

Wanting rid of me, my employer offered a redundancy package. I gladly snatched the cheque out of their hands, and ran. I had just moved into my own place, and so for the first time was able to cook whatever I chose to. I invested some of my ill gotten gains on a wok, which came complete with a recipe booklet, and a small but informative book on Indian cooking, one that I still refer to now. I still have the wok, too, and the recipe booklet, sentimental fool that I am…

Trying out those early recipes kick-started me down a path of relentless reading, researching, experimentation, eating, and analysis, something that is still going on to this very day.  I’m always on the lookout for something new, or a better way of doing something, becoming what the great chef Anton Mosimann once called “The eternal apprentice”, constantly aware that there is always something else to see and learn. When we travel, for example, I’m on the lookout for cookbooks. How did that place we ate at last night do that wonderful thing with the fish…?

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When I started my university studies in the early 1990s, my first course was an introduction to the social sciences. The course authors cleverly used food as a “hook”, a meta-subject that all the various social science disciplines had something interesting to say about.

Take a simple cup of tea, for example. Behind such a seemingly innocent beverage lies a complex and often brutal history. Similarly, one cannot begin to discuss the British obsession with Indian food without thinking about why we were there in the first place! To this day I’m still fascinated by the economic and social dimensions to our food choices.

And now for something completely different…

In the mid 1990s life took another interesting turn, when quite out of the blue I happened across the most wonderful person I have ever met, who just happened to be Swedish. Apart from a 4 year sojourn in Belgium, we’ve lived in Scandinavia ever since.

This has, of course, meant that I’ve learned to truly love and appreciate fish, as well as becoming a lover of coffee so strong that it was once described by a colleague in England as “Swedish Mud”.

To her eternal credit, Mrs. Paleovirtus continues to this day to be my most beloved guinea-pig, happy and eager to test out my latest creations.

Our very own personal Anglo-Swedish hybrid, Paleovirtus Jr, having grown up with  “The Good Stuff” at home, would often refuse to eat the “bajs” on offer in the school canteen, reserving her utmost contempt for instances when they would attempt to replicate British standards, such as Shepherd’s Pie, or Fish and Chips.

Thankfully, Paleovirtus Jr. has always taken an active interest in cooking, so I am confident that our family’s foodie traditions are in good hands…

In the Home Kitchen

In the Home Kitchen

8 thoughts on “I, Cook

      1. paleovirtus Post author

        I’d love to go to India one day, when time and money allow.

        I have a sort of plan to start in Kerala and work my way around to West Bengal via Gujarat, Rajasthan, possibly Punjab, and the Pradeshes. 🙂

        I’ve tried my hand at most things in Indian cuisine except sweets and desserts, one thing I’m definitely going to leave to the real experts…. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ilirianwanderer

        Hey! Come down to kerala!! The cuisine is AWESOME especially if you like seafood!

        About sweets and desserts, it’s not so hard! I’m sure you could pull it off easily!

        Maybe I could drop you some simple recipes 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. paleovirtus Post author

    I’ve often heard it said that Kerala’s food is up there with the very best in the country, but still relatively unknown. Any suggestions on a good, authentic cookbook?

    I’ve always said that Indian seafood in general is terribly under-rated. Seafood recipes seem to be added to most cookbooks almost as an afterthought. I’ve been looking for a really good cookbook for some time now that deals with just seafood, but haven’t found anything yet.

    The trouble I have with the desserts is that for my Paleo regime they must be dairy free. I’ve found a good Paleo carrot halwa recipe, and lassi works well enough with thick coconut milk. Apart from that, all I have is fruit salads with a fruit chaat masala (thank God for Shan’s! 😉 ), so, yes please, all suggestions welcome… 🙂

    Like

    Reply

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