Before we start, I just want to ask a question. Bearing in mind all the meals Lillian is going out for on The Archers, not once has she made any mention about putting on weight in the whole of the Christmas period and now into January. I do wonder whether all her work outs with Paul are keeping the weight off!
That leads me neatly into a serious topic which was flagged up on the Radio 4 Food Programme earlier in January regarding the impending food crisis in Italy.
Flavours is passionate about Italian food but it appears all is not going well in the country aside of the economic problems they are now experiencing.
In Italy these days, childhood obesity in those of elementary school age is the highest in Europe and the Italians are very concerned about the future of their children. You might be asking what this is all about seeing as we often hold Italy up as a paragon of virtue with respect to healthy Mediterranean food habits. But slowly, despite the regional passion and love for traditional foods, youngsters are beginning to experience big problems.
A recent state funded study showed alarming levels of obesity especially in the south whereas in the past, people here were amongst the thinnest; Spain Portugal and Greece also bringing up the rather enlarged rear so Italy is not alone in this situation.
Flavours holidays was interested to learn that what appears to be happening is this; even though regions like Piedmont, Liguria or even Sicily hold on to their old dishes, the foods Italians traditionally ate sparingly as seasonal treats like pastrami or lasagne, to name just a couple of examples, have become so mainstream people are eating them all the time with disastrous consequences.
Not only do young people share their predecessors’ love of regional cuisine they also enjoy the fast food which is slowly infiltrating the Italian psyche and what is disparagingly called: ‘The American Way’. So if you add high fat to high fat, a lack of physical exercise as so many young people have abandoned their rural lifestyles, then the recipe is definitely one of disaster. The addiction to sitting glued to computers may well also be to blame.
The problem is passion and self-discipline do not make great bedfellows and with the Italians love of food, if they do not practise a little self-restraint, this worrying trend may well metamorphose into an epidemic.
There is the other matter of lack of nutritional education and cooking skills amongst young parents and the increasingly lazy lifestyles amongst teenagers. Just think how easy it is to consume high calorie levels by just snacking on a few slices of salami or serving a packet of tortellini; it’s all too easy.
Our cookingcourses at Flavours tend to focus on the very best produce available and we like to produce balanced menus which focus on flavour rather than quantity. I am beginning to believe the old adage ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ with great emphasis laid on ‘little’.
It is obvious that high fat meals should not become the norm but perhaps more importantly it is essential to increase the exercise we all take every day. That is the key to this debate.
Yes, food availability and price in real terms has affected our eating habits but over and above all of this our lack of hard physical work is taking its toll.
So may we recommend a Flavours cooking course followed by a week’s Pilates in the sun? It’s just a thought, but a nice one!