Book Review: The Sophisticated Peasant
"Fortunately, there came a point where my desire to get well became stronger than my desire to" do or eat whatever I wanted.
So begins The Sophisticated Peasant, in author Sharon Kane's gentle voice, before transitioning into a treasure trove of personal experience, old and new cooking methods, and recipes rooted in an attitude towards eating as nourishing and palate pleasing as the final products themselves.
Sharon founded Gluten Free Sourdough Company out of her diagnosis, and has become a resource for amazing gluten-free breads and sprouted cookies in the Boston area. Utlizing her recovery journey, she has created products even those "restricted" thought they'd never eat again -- specifically, amazing sourdoughs which don't require wheat or chemicals to shine.
I quibble with the term “healthy” sometimes used in the text, as it has connotation of judgment these days -- as if other food “is not”. But I can’t quibble with the attitude.
In Peasant, she goes a step further -- and branches into ferments and preparations of all food from beans to broths, from main meals to snacks, that don't just bring the eater back into rhythm with his or her needs, appetite, and food preparation process, but also give them a chance to make food that heals on top of being delicious.
We have had a funny divorce in our Western world. The divorce of food from nourishment. The divorce of food from community. We pit the concept of eating for pleasure against the concept of eating well, as if we ought to be able to drown our taste buds in yum, even if it abuses our bodies, or abuse our tastebuds with muck, just so as to "nourish" our bodies.
But that is a false dichotomy! Food that nourishes should be food that pleases, and vice versa, and there is nothing inherently opposed in either concept.
Peasant, and Sharon's wonderfully integrative approach to eating and meal preparation, re-marry pleasure and nourishment.
It can take an initial shove, the challenge of wanting to integrate (as Sharon says, "to get well...stronger than desire to eat whatever" she wanted).
But finally, she proves eating whatever you want may not be what you really want. It may be a habit. Even being sick and petulant can get comfortable if we're used to it. But preparing food in sophisticated simplicity, with fresh ingredients, and even fresher re-introducions to old strategies for aiding digestion and bringing out flavour, can also be a habit.
Peasant teaches how.
Better yet, Peasant shows how, because this lovely book liberally weaves Sharon's character, tone, and story into the practical strategies and recipes, leaving one more with the experience of visiting and touring a kitchen with a dear friend, than merely leafing through a manual.