Friday, 22 May 2009

What do you want to be?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

As I near a birthday in a few weeks, the thoughts of an old familiar question remind me of bygone times.

I remember that question being drummed into us kids from the age of three. We soon began to ask it of ourselves. "What do you want to be?", "What defines you?". Why? What? When?

Before the philosophical ramifications of such questions revealed themselves, the answer was simple. At the age of three I wanted to be a ballerina by day and a ninja at night. The power of flight, optional.

And why not? Is that not what innocence of the world teaches us? Be who or what you want to be?

I don't know if a simpler answer to the question "What do you want to be?" might not to have been, "Taller". After all, the truth we learn and the wisdom we gain is that we do not control the future. We have only a vested interest in it and must work hard for our place in that landscape. I don't mean materially or professionally, but more soul-deep and intelligently.

If all else fails and you are alone on a bare rock overlooking the ocean, who you are inside will carry you forward. Not the job, the attention or the paraphernalia.

Ballerina and ninja. The two choices define qualities I still admire. Grace and mystery. Softness and strength. Light and shade. Perhaps Filmmaker/Writer is a grownup amalgamation of both. As I now have no use for leotards (uncomfortable) and dressing like a ninja in London is likely to draw just a little too much attention. Although I'd like to see a ninja, just once, sipping tea outside a cafe.

I would suggest a revised approach to the above question. Let it not be about the job. Let it be a measure of the qualities that will shape the human being in this fleeting world. I hope one day to hear such answers as "Stronger, happier, patient". Perhaps even "I don't know". The honesty in that answer alone is beautiful. It gives one time to think, reflect and ultimately grow up.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Simply Bill Granger

There's something about Bill. There's something about his eclectic and original food. There's something about sharing - all entwined. He is exactly as he appears in my photograph above. After the brownies post, I was emailed about Bill Granger so had to blog a bit more about him. Why? He has an abiding love of cooking, giving and what I admire most in talented people, a lack of pretense.

Hence him being able to place brownie recipes in a cookbook that contains Spicy Prawn Stir fry, Italian Onion Soup and Pumpkin and Pea Coconut Curry. I am not one to recommend what you should buy, but his "Feed Me Now!" is an All season favourite I could not put down. I think it is a good indication that a cookbook is a success when you want to eat the entire book, I mean literally.

This is surprising as he is a self-taught cook and one of Sydney's most successful Chefs and Cookbook writers. His background was not easy, less about that here. He is an amazing success story not primarily because of his talent, achievements and innovation- but because he is still a nice guy, speaking in the voice of a teenager about his life, loving family and an unabashed enjoyment of food. We shared a "few" words after watching him cook for the first time in London the other evening. The condensed version is below.


On Growing up:
My mother was a vegetarian and my father was a butcher, so you can imagine what our mealtimes were like. Sometimes meat would be placed in the oven until a few hours later it had settled into a grey solid layer. Other times dessert for me would be: add water, eat.

On Cooking:
I believe that meals should centre around the family, good cooking, great ingredients, just taking time to sit down and talk together.

On Other Chefs:
I really like Cooks for whom it is not about ego, but a real respect for food.

On Special Ingredients:
I am not that fussy about branded ingredients, even Soy Sauce. My emphasis is on ingredients that are fresh, delicious and simple. It's natural sometimes for people to be fussy; at home my daughter will only eat cheese that is Buffalo Mozzarella - not just any old Mozzarella, it has to be Buffalo!

Home life:
I am the designated cook at home! Although I run the restaurants [he is also opening another soon in Japan] my family expects me to come home and cook dinner and that is incredibly gratifying to me.

On his Cookbook:
I wanted a book that makes easy home-cooked meals into joyful and delicious experiences. Time is of the essence nowadays, so whether you're cooking for family, friends and even on a Shoestring, this book will have lots of choices for you. There are breakfasts, teatime treats, small meals and fabulous dinners. With a young family, I am very aware that feeding the eyes is just as important as feeding the body, so the foods are as delicious as they are healthy and fresh.

His Cooking Philosophy:
Cooking for others is about giving, if you cook with love then it will show.

Bill's books are available via amazon and his website is

Have a lovely weekend, Peace, x