With green being the new black, the latest eco-friendly trend has transcended into culinary concepts and food styles. One of today’s hottest food trends is to be not only organic, but locally grown, sustainable, hormone and antibiotic free, plus grown in animal friendly environments such as free-range, natural and grass fed. Eating green can also means spending green. Foods that are labeled with an array of terms identifying these special growing conditions generally cost more.
In addition to all the new terms used to identify the foods, newer trends of preparing foods have also taking the “green” spot light. In the past few years the dietary trend of “raw food” has become more popular. Some define a raw food diet as 70% of uncooked foods while other purists believe it is defined as 100% uncooked foods. Uncooked “raw” foods mean that nothing edible can be heated to more than 116 degrees. “Raw foodists” believe that all raw foods have large counts of enzymes, which are fundamental to human health and digestion and metabolization of food, and which are destroyed when food is heated to above 116 degrees Fahrenheit” * (“The Science Behind Raw Food” by Virginia Culler)
I had the pleasure of dining “in the raw” in one of New York City’s trendy raw food restaurants. If you were to peek into the kitchen you will notice there are no ovens, gas stovetops, grills or deep fryers. Dishes are prepared in blenders, juicers and dehydrators, with much of its focus on plenty of precise cutting, careful whisking, and diligent food handling. It’s the skill and talent of the hand that give this cuisine such a unique twist.
Both the wine list and the menu were tantalizing, with selections that could please even a carnivore’s palate. Each dish that I tasted surprised me with new blasts of flavor, that even as a Chef, I could not recognize. Nuts and grains and flavorful oils not only compliment the vegetables they are paired with, but often showcase the dish. One dish had a subtle splash of rosewater that enhanced both the aroma and freshness of the raw ingredients. The clever use of texture and temperature were so spot on, I can promise you will never once during the meal miss conventionally
cooked hot foods.
There is something very seductive about raw foods and it is an undeniably healthy way of revealing fruits and vegetables in an unfamiliar yet completely satisfying way. When these foods are so delicately and skillfully handled they create an unforgettable meal.
Although I have no intentions of becoming a raw food purist and not enjoying cuisines of the meat variety, raw foodism has made me a believer that sometimes food is “greener on the other side”.