I love a great salad, don’t you? especially now we have all become so creative, so different from the salads my mother used to serve up. A limp piece of lettuce, some sliced tomato, and cucumber, if we were lucky there would also be half a boiled egg. Oh my – how we have progressed into mastering the salad. Today we have so much choice, a salad has become a meal in itself and not something to have on the side. Using a variety of lettuce leaves, nuts, seeds, and fresh raw vegetables, we chop and slice to create art to produce Picasso on a plate, a garden of mouthwatering Monet.
You’ve guessed it, I have been organising a cooking demo and this is my first event this season as we relax a few covid restrictions. It did not take long for a few of us to get together, especially as there was some healthy food involved. My guests are all serious about having a strong and healthy immune system.
The Jalon Valley.
I chose a venue in my hometown of Jalon, in the beautiful Costa Blanca. The room, situated above the restaurant/cafe Casa Claudia is spacious, well ventilated and has an open terrace with wonderful views of the surrounding Jalon valley and mountains, perfect for a small event, perfect for a mini get-together and catch up amongst friends, it has been a long lockdown and we need more than just a coffee.
Let me introduce you to Kurt, I announce, who has come here from Alicante where he runs a cooking school and is passionate about cooking and nutrition. I met him a few months ago when I was invited to his cooking school for a demonstration and a breakfast. He is going to demonstrate preparing a salad, Oh and also cook us a quick vegetable lasagna. I am in heaven. I watch with interest thinking how wonderful it is to be in a room with real people again, at last seeing people interact with each other face to face, instead of watching a computer screen.
My guests are laughing at Kurt when he asks, ‘Who hates cooking?’ two guests eagerly hold up their hands. Is he really going to get them to make the lasagna? We put our trust in him.
Kurt is using a machine to prepare the salad.The Salad Master is the brand and it shreds, grates and slices. Kurt explains the value of preparing the salad this way. It is so much better than chopping with a knife as you retain a lot more of the nutrients. Personally, I am taken with how it all looks so pretty as it falls into the bowl. It is true, we eat with our eyes. Cabbage, carrot, onion, mushrooms all fall into the mix. I can see this machine as an addition in my kitchen. I do love gadgets. However I also love salads so I know I would get a lot of use out of this machine. He goes on to show us how to prepare a lasagna in titanium cookware. There is a theory that this metal is the safest for cooking. The lasagna cooks very quickly and we all get to try some. It tastes amazing. He also produces a keto version using tofu.
Some of my guests are following keto diets, some are protein shakers, all are here because they love healthy food and are eager to learn more. When you live in a beautiful place such as the Jalon Valley, there is an energy that promotes good health. Our valley has seen a surge of health enthusiasts over the past decade and the people who have turned up today not only glow with health but have an enthusiasm for it that nourishes the atmosphere in the room. Good health is undoubtedly infectious. Questions are fired at Kurt about the machine, they are intrigued and want to know more. They are also hungry.
Martina is a young events organiser from Barcelona. Her business has suffered because of Covid so she has moved back to the valley to help her Mum Claudia, the owner of the restaurant. Martina organises a light brunch for everyone, a small buffet of cold meats, eggs, and plates of cheeses with walnuts and seeds. Strawberries on skewers add contrasting colours. I want to make it all healthy she tells me. My guests are delighted. Ooh, my sort of food one of them expresses joyfully. https://www.facebook.com/casaclaudia
At the end, people are giving good feedback. We invite Kurt to come back and visit us again.
Martina and I sit to chat over a coffee. We are both excited to be doing something again. I kept the number down to a small group but she seemed happy. In Barcelona, it would have been done on a much larger scale. We talk about other ideas, how to make improvements to encourage more business. She has vitality so I think the locals will see some exciting new things happening in the future. ‘But first, we have work to do,’ she says. ‘We need to understand what people want and then we are able to try out new ideas.
Covid has made everyone take the seriousness of their health up a notch.
Martina has recognised that increasing demand and wants to encourage more events similar to this one. People are ready for change and restaurants are beginning to realise the need to adapt. It will take some time but I believe it is crucial if they want to stay in business. People will embrace their freedom as restrictions are lifted and consumers will become more conscious of what their needs are. Healthier options will be at the top of their requirements. Change is difficult for a lot of us but I can see it coming. Supporting our local businesses where we can, should be a priority. They are the soul of a village, a town or a city. Local bars, cafes, and restaurants have been hit the hardest during this pandemic, yet they are the places where people meet up, talk out their problems, bump into friends and neighbours, talk about life, work, and make introductions.
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