The joy of plastic-free cooking

The joy of plastic-free cooking
Plastic-free kale pesto pasta

I can’t remember exactly when it was that my dislike for pasta started. It might’ve been during one of the many, many, many times mum made “salami pasta” for us for dinner as children (I hated salami, the hatred may have extended to creamy tagliatelle used as a vehicle for it). It might’ve after eating the watery, doughy, rubbery pasta- never spaghetti- that we were served at boarding school. Or it might’ve been while struggling with an eating disorder as a teenager, when I shunned as many carbs as I could get away with.

Whatever it was, for the past decade,  pasta has been something I’ve typically avoided and, if forced to eat, not enjoyed. And yet on Sunday night, a strange thing happened: I made pasta for dinner from scratch, and genuinely really enjoyed eating it.

Now don’t get me wrong, my first ever attempt at pasta was far from flawless. The dough was under-kneeded, the pasta lacked “snap” and my ingenious idea of having thick ribbons of it didn’t help, while the pesto I served it with was slightly over-salted and lacked tanginess as a result of subbing in verjuice for lemon juice and improvising a recipe. But as meals go, it was edible, it certainly wasn’t disgusting and my boyfriend and I both quite enjoyed it- result!

So, why did I end up making pasta in the first place? Well, the answer lies in our recent attempts to reduce our plastic consumption, something I cover in my other journal posts. Over the past couple of months, we’ve begun buying dry-goods from bulk-bin stores, getting veggies from the market or the nearby grocers, and sourcing our eggs, milk and butter as locally as we can. After a few weeks, we were eating better and felt like we had more energy. Our kitchen-waste had dropped dramatically and our diet had suddenly become ten times more varied.

However, when it came to “easy, quick-fix meals”, we were still a bit stuck. We couldn’t buy cupboard staples like pasta or tortillas (a staple for us) because of the soft-plastic they come wrapped in.

We had to make them. And, in spite of the effort, trials and tribulations of doing so, I feel as if I’ve fallen in love with cooking all over again. There’s something wonderful about giving people food you’ve made yourself, from being able to add the flavours you want to the foods you make, and from knowing exactly what’s gone into your food and in what quantities. In the evenings, the kitchen is now the hub of our house, where you’ll me cooking dinner and my boyfriend cleaning up after me, tasting dinner as it comes. We even use an old-fashioned 1950’s cookery book, which, if you ignore the fact that it’s directed to the “modern housewife”, has plenty of useful tips.

Naturally, we don’t always get it right. The pesto pasta on Sunday is a good example of a dish that was slightly off the mark. But every now and again we do- the tortillas last night for friends, for example, or the veggie curries we’ve been living off. And when we do there’s an indescribable satisfaction that comes from it- a satisfaction that, to me, summarises what cooking, and in turn food, really should be all about.

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