Turns out it wasn't love at first sight, but more of a journey...
How many first dates didn’t involve food? Not many I would guess. In Std 5 (grade 7 for those younger than me) my best friend and I went on a double date. 12 years old and with ears and noses growing faster than the rest of our face. We watched Beetlejuice at the movies and then sat at Milky-Lane and had waffles.
Dating in high school for me was a bit of a write off. I was poorly behaved and preferred the company of a close group of mates banging out grunge music in our garage band. We sucked but we had fun.
But it was after matric and during a gap year overseas that I really started to appreciate that food is not just sustenance but something much more.
In Israel it was falafel from street vendors.
In Egypt it was ….well...in Egypt it was dodgy. My time there was spent in the tiny tent town Dahab before it was a big tourism destination. But fresh fish pulled from the reef and simply cooked over coals will be something I will always remember.
In England I was living in a caravan, mid winter, and just outside a small village on the southern point of Cornwall. And there was nothing in the world better than chowing down on an authentic Cornish pasty.
In Norway it was fish markets, reindeer and brown cheese. (Don't ask).
But I remember these tastes and smells like I remember the people and the places.
Studying food happened by default, I was too late after getting back from overseas to get into most tertiary studies, but I found a gap at the Swiss Hotel School.
There I discovered I wasn’t as bad a student as I had been at high school.
There I discovered skills and techniques and the beauty of turning simple fresh ingredients into memorable meals.
There I discovered work ethic. No university holidays at the SHS. Two weeks leave from Studies and part time jobs to get experience in the industry.
There I discovered French, German and music culture. Housekeeping, accounting and silver service.
And there I discovered my wife!
Estie and I met in the classroom, but it was Red Wine and Pizza that marked our first date….it wasn’t meant to be a date….but you know...red wine and all….
Then Switzerland for half a year as our swan song for studying. Students in Zurich. In Winter. And in Love.
The Swiss are generally thought of as the custodians of the culinary arts. We got to work with some of the cities top chefs in world renowned hotels. We got to travel to neighbouring countries on our time off and experience a multitude of different cooking styles, regional specialties and a food culture that had centuries of history behind it.
In fact, we loved it so much that 5 yrs later we pilgrimaged back to Switzerland for our honeymoon. With backpacks and a very limited budget we worked our way through Switzerland, Northern Italy and Austria for 6 weeks. It was in Lugano that I think we experienced what is probably still our standout food memory. It was the harvest wine festival. No restaurants, just the farm workers filling the streets selling the best of local produce in the simplest of recipes. Pots boiling in the street for cooking hand rolled pasta and gnocchi, cured hams hanging from branches of trees, fresh breads coming out woodfired ovens, cheese…..so much cheese, wine from wooden barrels not bottles, olives and a bunch of other local produce. It is our dream to one day incorporate something like this into our business.
Estie and myself still work with food. And together. It’s been 4 long years building Ginger&Co. But when you work with something you are passionate about, and with someone you are passionate about….well, that’s why I love food. Food got me employed and food got me married. Our kitchen is still the heart of our home, and our passion for food the fire in our soul.
So for the month of Saint Valentine, it would be appropriate for me to declare my love for all things food. Because in our world, food is at the heart of our everything. Our marriage and our business. So next time you tuck in, make it an experience.
Want to tuck in but not cook? Try our convenient couples meals, prepared with love.. from our kitchen to yours! ---> https://gingerfood.co.za/collections/frozen-meals/products/couples-special-offer