July 6, 2022

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“It is important to eat food that has not traveled the world” |  Stories behind the news

“It is important to eat food that has not traveled the world” | Stories behind the news

Pain

Laura comes from a large family from Maastricht with five children. Her mother instilled in her a love of food and fresh dishes. “I attended a culinary academy and always bought fresh produce from local suppliers,” says Laura. “I studied Dutch myself and worked in journalism, but it didn’t really suit me. I found a job in a publishing house, and I didn’t like it either. But we also published cookbooks at this publisher, and that’s where my passion lies.”

smoked sausage

When she quit her job, Laura thought she could peek behind the scenes at artisans and chefs and tell stories about them. So in those early days it was given at a butcher in Leiden. “One of the first things he told me was that ham is a lot like human meat. He also always delivered smoked sausages to customers’ homes, which he simply tossed through the letterbox by flattening it a bit. As a result of that experience, I wrote a funny story that mentioned in relief that I was glad I didn’t end up with smoked sausage. This story was picked up by chef magazine editors Jamie Oliver. They asked me to write for their magazine. So, I got my job as a food reporter off to a quick start,” she says with a laugh.

plural

Laura’s articles were popular and in a short time she was writing for more food related media. This is how the Amsterdam cookbook idea was born. In it she did research into nutrition by looking back at different kitchens and doing extensive research. This is how you found out that your dinner plate sometimes travels 30,000 km. “After the success of the Amsterdam cookbook, I made another one, for which I traveled all over the Netherlands on my electric motorcycle in search of the best produce from the areas where I lived.”

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Together with photographer Hans de Kurt, who did the photography for the book, Laura philosophized about an upcoming project. Because how cool would it be to do the same in another country? “This is how Natural Austria was born,” says Laura. “Austria is a country with a huge variety of flavours, crops and dishes due to its innumerable microclimate. Did you know, for example, that the cheese you find in Austria tastes different when cows or sheep graze up the mountain? They have many specialty cheeses, such as Alpen Bergkäse and Montafoner Sura Kees, which differ greatly in taste from cheese made in Holland.”

pumpkin seed oil

In about a month and a half, Laura visited several farmers, producers, chefs, and hosts and collected all the information for the book. “I met 55 people and discovered all kinds of amazing things about Austrian products. Take for example Kürbiskernöl or pumpkin seed oil. I was touring in Styria with my e-bike and saw all kinds of orange pumpkins in this area. It really caught my eye, so I visited farmer and discovered that a wonderful oil is made from those seeds. Something you hardly come across in Holland.”

sweet

This way I found something special in every federal state and became more aware of the importance of local produce. “I love it when chefs work with nature and its elements. That definitely happens in Austria. Chefs who grow their own produce in their own backyard and set a bench in the middle of the field, so you can enjoy your meal among all that deliciousness. Or chefs who develop dessert based on the hills In their area. I have many examples of chefs making their dishes based on nature. I am always very excited about it.”

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Culinary treasure chest

Laura’s travel felt like a culinary treasure chest. “When you read my cookbooks, you, as a reader, look over my shoulder and discover these treasures with me.” “I wrote it so that you can travel with me and see that it is important to eat food that has not traveled the world, but simply comes from your environment. For example, I really do not buy almonds from California anymore. There is monocropping, which means that only one crop is grown On a plot of land at a time. Even the bees have to be moved there, so that the trees can bear fruit in the first place.”

trout

Not at all sustainable, says Laura. “Just like avocado. Few people benefit much from it and not farmers. If you are traveling to a country where a particular product is grown, you can, of course, eat it. But in Italy you don’t order Alaskan salmon. In Austria, on the other hand, you can easily eat delicious salmon from a mountain lake. I feel happy when people learn about the stories behind the food by reading my cookbooks.”