Introduction

Introduction

By
Simon Bajada
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743791448
Photographer
Simon Bajada

What is Nordic light? With my photographer’s hat on, I think of it first in literal terms; it’s that beautiful light you find during the afternoon hours when the sun drops and casts unfamiliar long shadows, or that intense magenta glow of warmth on a clear morning.

As a food writer, however, and for the purposes of this book, Nordic light is a name I have given to a particular style of eating – one that combines elements of new Nordic cuisine, classic Scandinavian, raw food and vegetable-focused eating to create a better balanced diet that satisfies our desire to eat more healthily, more interestingly and more deliciously. It sure is a mouthful… but that is what I want it to be!

Having come to be working in the Nordic countries from Australia I’ve been able to see Nordic cuisine from a different perspective – as an outsider looking in – and it has proved to be incredibly stimulating. A dinner at the award-winning Copenhagen restaurant Noma in 2006 sparked my love of Nordic cooking and formed the foundations for me to author The New Nordic nine years later. My interest in the cuisine has by no means waned, it continues to inspire me and prompts a desire for me to share ideas.

In my time here, Nordic cuisine – with its use of seafood, grains, berries, seasonal vegetables and lean wild meats – has revealed itself to be a very healthy diet. While engrossed in the food culture of the region, I have also developed an interest in other modern diets that focus on healthier eating.

The recipes ahead draw on this interest. They are easy to make and quick to prepare (always a plus). At times they might prove a little unfamiliar, for example when setting a parfait with silken tofu or making a chia pudding with carrot cake flavours, but I hope you, like me, find this exciting. Personally, I love the creative element of cooking – discovering methods of preparation and combinations of ingredients. It’s where I find most satisfaction and fun in the kitchen.

I don’t profess to being a nutritionist, a longevity coach, or an advocate for animal welfare – in other words, this book is not attempting to be raw, whole, vegetarian, Paleo or coeliac friendly – rather it aims to provide you with a better balanced foundation for whatever lies ahead. It is a unique position in a crossroad of influencing factors and a snapshot of how my family and I are eating today.

So how is that, exactly? Well, for example, since moving to Sweden, my family has felt the positive effects of a more diverse, less meat-heavy diet. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to bite into a steak, it’s the ‘how often’ that has changed, something encouraged by Sweden’s preference for seafood as protein of choice. This newly found diversity at our table can be seen at breakfast, where our boys are as happy tucking into smoked fish roe and cucumber on rye as they are Vegemite and avocado toast.

My interest in new Nordic cuisine – the celebration of traditional Nordic methods of sourcing local ingredients and preparing them in different ways – has also given our diet a better balance through the importance it places on bringing vegetables to the fore. Vegetable-based cuisine demands the best-quality vegetables, so wherever possible I now try to use seasonal, organic or locally grown produce (and I suggest you do the same). In much the same way as a weekly seasonal veggie delivery service, this has meant that we have been eating vegetables in their prime, and has encouraged us to try and prepare fruit and veggies that we might not otherwise buy.

I have also been able to observe the ways in which new Nordic cuisine and the raw and whole food movements share common ideology, and the ways in which they have to operate with limits placed upon them in terms of the range of ingredients and techniques they are able to work with. These limitations however can prove inspirational – new Nordic cuisine’s ideology of focusing on using produce grown in the harsh North climate, for example, has stimulated the creation of exciting new cooking techniques and methods of preparation to present these ingredients in previously unimaginable ways. Likewise, where raw food chefs cannot use the most common techniques in cookery they are motivated to think beyond what they know works and develop new techniques for creating dishes. For me it’s a win-win to not be bound by these ‘rules’ of raw and whole food cooking, but to be able to consider them so as to create new ideas while at the same time eating more healthily.

Working as a food and travel photographer I encounter new techniques regularly, and take the ideas home with me to test and domesticate them for the home kitchen, where they continue to inspire me. Ahead you will see some examples of these. Coupled with a motivation to enjoy a better balanced diet, I hope they inspire you to think differently in your approach to your everyday cooking and eating.

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