More Complexity Please

It is with much anticipation that I flick to the food sections of newspapers and magazines only to be disappointed with yet another recipe for a burger or a toasted sandwich. Do we really a need a recipe for a mincemeat patty? Weeknight time limitations notwithstanding, we can make complicated things on the weekend but it seems that most recipes bandied about these days have to have a maximum 20 minutes preparation time. Is our attention span so short we cannot read a longer recipe? Let’s face it most foodies love reading about food. Even if they have no intention of making the dish, it’s still good to know what ingredients go together, what techniques are used, what the tricky bits are, how to serve it and if there is a back story all the better.

I do miss the writings of Annie Smithers, who wrote for Melbourne’s The Age, Epicure when it was a magazine. Her articles were thoughtful stories of seasons, cooking and a measured approach to life that would briefly transport you to the fireside corner of her country kitchen. The writing was lucid and entertaining and without the foodie jargon of today. Food writing needn’t be all about the recipe, it should provoke ideas, build knowledge and equip you with creative impulses. Of course there are some great cookbooks out there that do this and the excellent books of Claudia Roden and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame come to mind. It is a pity then that the Australian food writing focus is food fashion and restaurant reviews. A pity because there is a certain sameness that goes with that fashion focus. Despite the gradual decay of our print media, you can still find some interesting writing from top chef, Andrew McConnell’s regular column in The Saturday Paper. Even with this quality weekly paper dedicated to long-form journalism there is more of an emphasis on pictures of deconstructed or pre-constructed dishes rather than text.

We need to add a little complexity to our palates as well as exercising our vast brains. We are capable of absorbing and creating so much more than our media give us credit for; we should be beyond the picture book stage and be able to enjoy the literary side of our amazing food culture.

With a little complexity in mind I post the recipe for My Really Wild Lasagna — Rabbit, Mushroom and Chestnut Pasta. Cooking Time: as long as it takes.

Originally published at on July 7, 2015.