As i mentioned in my aside on beverages, there is a great pleasure in drinking locally produced beer. The small batch artisan beers with short transport distances reach your glass fresher and with a cleaner crisper interpretation of what the brewer intended. The same is true of the food on your plate. Good cuisine is not reliant on exotic ingredients but instead on taking the best quality ingredients and matching them with the best technique and flavorings to complement the inherent flavors, textures and characteristics of the ingredient. With this as an assumed true, it follows logically that the best quality ingredients would be those that you can obtain locally, less impacted by transport and storage times. The ingredients indigenous to your locale are going to provide you with the best results. I think we all know that but somehow, everyone sees things like chilean sea bass and assumes that even here in the middle of colorado, that would be an effective main ingredient.
There are those that limit their intake to items produced within a 100 mile radius of their home. Primarily, these are ecologically aware individuals that are trying to cut down on their carbon footprint. Makes sense, less transport equals less gas burned, storage, etc, etc… also makes sense from my point of you, fresher tastes better, eat and cook what you have available in your local area. Find a farmers market, explore it, learn the variety of crops that are relatively local. If you are lucky enough, track down a producer that grows heirloom vegetables… in addition to being grown locally, these will give you variations on standard available flavors and textures… remember the mantra, fresher tastes better… locally grown vegetables are without a doubt fresher.
so, i have been doing minor research on the agriculture of korea… being a peninsula, there is an abundance of seafood. i remember my first trip there, i was a bit intimidated by the open air markets and the general lack of refrigeration of the meats and fish. however, armed with the knowledge that the population of korea hasn’t died of some strange foodborne plague and the skills to identify fresh fish, i believe that i can safely navigate the minor dangers of buying on the economy. also, sad to say but since i’m only cooking for myself, if i get sick, meh, so what, i’ll live. i would be much more cautious if i were involving the rest of the family or guests but my own safety and comfort i am willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of culinary excellence.
in line with choosing the right ingredients, i would urge you to take your time with preparations. treat your ingredients and recipes with the respect they deserve and you will surely be rewarded. The foodie reaction to the fast food generation is encapsulated in the philosophies of the Slow Food movement. these guys really know how to take it easy and pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. I first discovered them at the Great British Cheese Festival in 2004. the simplicity of the philosophy, pay attention to every aspect of food preparation, from start to finish, appeals to me on a base level. This is one of the foundations of my year long experiment, focus on the basics, choose the right ingredient, the right cooking method and create a wonderful meal.