Food In Times Of Crisis...What Do We Eat?

Aired Wednesday 6 February, 2019, 2.45pm

Aired Wednesday 6 February, 2019, 2.45pm

What foods do you reach for when things are tough? Do you have a go-to recipe that you make for people when they’re going through a hard time? Is it a tray of lasagne? Chicken soup? Congee? On the 10th anniversary of Victoria’s tragic Black Saturday fires, Richelle Hunt and I talk about the role that food plays in times of grief and strife. A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who shared their very personal stories and dishes with me; the top dishes were all simple foods with a huge emphasis on carbohydrates and proteins and clean flavours, which goes to my point about the foods we truly crave…they don’t involve foams, soils and skid marks.

The overwhelming favourites were:

Pasta - especially lasagne (SO many votes for lasagne!), but also simple dishes like alio e olio, and good old spaghetti Bolognese.

Curries - dhal and rice, lots of lentils and chickpeas. Listen to my radio segment for my own personal memory of food in times of grief.

Eggs - boiled, scrambled, poached, the simplicity of basic foods is beautiful.

Buttered toast - I can definitely attest to this one. My mum used to make me toast with equal parts honey and butter, or sometimes, just plain white bread, buttered and sprinkled with white sugar on top.

Congee, or rice soup in multiple cultures - starchy, rich, savoury goodness.

Chicken - roasted, Hainanese style and even fried.

Soups and stews - Ugly delicious at its best.

Body + Soul: Healthy-ish Podcast

Published: November 9, 2018 Body + Soul

Published: November 9, 2018 Body + Soul

The lovely crew at Body + Soul had me in to chat about what it’s like when food is work and work is life… spoiler alert: it’s all about balance (something I don’t always get right!). Read the interview below, and listen to my chat with legend radio woman Maz Compton and Dr Andrew Rochford! I promise there will be snacks!

Fact one: The average healthy female will consume a minimum of 730,000 calories a year.

Fact two: The average person will also spend a staggering 32,098 hours eating in their lifetime.

Two facts that hold two very large numbers; but what happens when you factor in a job that pays you to eat?

Firstly, it’s pretty much certain that you’d have to multiply those numbers by 10, but it’s also guaranteed those numbers on the scales would look a little frightening.

Living the life of a food writer sounds like the ultimate dream job, but when it comes to attempting to stay healthy, it’s definitely no easy feat. Just ask the ultimate foodie Melissa Leong, who had to learn the hard way.

“I started in my late 20s and I thought my metabolism was fine – I can eat everything, I can do all the things,” the TV presenter on SBS Australia’s The Chef’s Line tells co-hosts Dr Andrew Rochford and Maz Compton in the latest episode of podcast Healthy-ish: Why does our social life revolve around food?

“I would have these massive eating sessions with my chef friends where we’d go out for a whole day and eat all of the things, and it never occurred to me once that all of my friends are dudes who are six-foot-something or 150 kilos – I would just match them to the toe.”

It wasn’t until Melissa was in her early thirties did she realise her amazing job was taking a toll on her health.

“My metabolism wasn’t the same as what it was and I didn’t look the same anymore, and that was a really sobering thing to realise,” the foodie recalls.

So how in the world does she stay healthy when her life revolves around indulging in food all day long?

Between running to and fro around the globe as a freelance food and travel writer, media consultant, radio broadcaster, TV presenter and cookbook editor, Melissa somehow makes sure she fits in a Pilates session whenever she has the time.

And when it comes to her diet, it’s all about planning, balance, and listening to her body.

“If I’m eating out professionally, if I’m going out to restaurants all day, then the days that I’m not it’s really simple things.”

While she admits she loves pasta, cake and bread (girlfriend, we hear you), she understands it “doesn’t agree” with her body so she tries to minimises complex carbs when she can, and instead focuses on lots of protein and veg.

“It’s about cooking for yourself because you know what you’re putting into your food, and I know what works for me.”

But the foodie doesn’t praise home-cooked food only for its healthiness; yes, she’s tasted almost every dish to grace this planet and dined at the finest restaurants around the world, but it’s the soul and heart of her mother’s homemade meals that trump every dish she’s ever critiqued.

“My mum’s Hainanese chicken and rice is a cracker of a dish, but it’s nostalgic, and I would definitely eat this as my last meal for sure.”

Want to hear more about what life’s like living as a food and travel writer? Find out in episode 37 of our podcast Healthy-ish. Listen above, at Apple iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.