HOME feeds the soul
Through testing times Amber Rose has always relied on her love of nourishing food and daily rituals to bring her a sense of calm and peace. They are her compass. She’s also relied on a big dose of self-care.
Amber hails from pioneering organic stock, her mother is Kay Baxter, the heritage gardener who established the Koanga Institute; and it shows in her new book Wild
Delicious. At the very heart of this book is place and identity — a sense of what it means to be home.
What inspired you to write this book?
This book was inspired by my stories, stories from my childhood, my travels and coming home. Growing up in my mother’s garden has influenced so much of what I do as an adult and the style of food that I cook. This book contains many of those stories and the honest wholesome food of my childhood, with my wild delicious twists of course.
What is your philosophy on food?
You know that old saying “you are what you eat”? . . . well I take it one step further . . . You are what you are eating is eating . . . Food is essentially information to the body, if the food you are eating is factory raised meat fed on highly toxic GM grains and corn and chemical laden genetically modified veges, or worse, highly processed food, then that is not giving your body good clean instructions to keep it healthy and disease free. We need to be eating natural foods raised the old fashioned way, spray free veggies and pasture raised animals. I believe in more nutritious foods and less processed foods. I try to keep my families daily plates filled with natural seasonal foods, healthy fats including butter and whole milk and yoghurt, probiotic rich fermented foods such as sauerkraut and wild or pasture raised meat and fish.
Through your travels what country and what dish stands out the most?
Wow that’s a tough question . . . it’s so hard to say . . .
I really loved
India, I love the flavoursome curries, fresh herbs and the fermented breads and sauces they make. However, I also really loved France and Italy, the beautiful fresh fruit and vegetable markets and the way they display things, you eat with your eye first of course.
Would you call yourself a hunter gatherer?
Yes for sure. I am always on the look out for food and I love gathering food from the wild. Nothing pleases me more than picking wild blackberries after a swim in the creek on a summer day. Or gathering wild mushrooms or herbs, shellfish and game.
What is the best thing about living up north?
I love living by the coast. I can hear the waves crashing at high tide on a still night from my house steps. After living in the mad chaos of London for nearly 16 years I wanted to come home and have a more natural and slower pace of life.
Who/what led you to your love of food?
It’s really in my blood . . . my father was a chef and my mother was an incredible gardener/farmer who grew and made literally everything. Growing up, everything we ate was either grown or made by my mum. So much of what I’ve done with my cooking and how and why I cook has been inspired by how I grew up.
What was the first thing you remember cooking?
I think it was probably pancakes and pikelets. I used to make big plates of pikelets and take them down to mum’s nursery workers with pots of homemade jam and butter. They were so good and sometimes I still make them for my kids’ afternoon teas.
What did you used to have on your school sandwiches?
I used to be so embarrassed by my school lunches, I never wanted to open my lunchbox in front of the other kids. Mum made us all these great big hunky sandwiches made from her homemade sourdough bread, home grown lettuces, cheese and cold meats. They tasted so good but they looked so different to everyone else’s neatly cut white bread jam sandwiches that I would get so embarrassed! Now I’m so glad my mum had the courage and the knowledge to do what she did because it’s given me so much to draw from in my life.
Tell us 5 ingredients you couldn’t go without . . .
Pure natural sea salt: it’s essential for tasty and healthy life (it’s the processed iodised salt that you’ve got to watch out for, not the natural stuff) Cold pressed olive oil, I can literally drink the stuff.
Butter, cultured is my fav but any good butter will do. Avocados, I can eat them all day every day, in all different ways . . . Home made cake . . . not strictly an “ingredient” but certainly an ingredient for a wonderful life :)!
Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise:
I can speak some Mandarin, I learnt it when I lived in Mainland China for a year.
I’ve been an actress in Chinese soap operas. Just for fun.
I was once one of the three fastest cross country runners in New Zealand . . . as a teenager.
Amber Rose, author of WildDelicious.
Wild Delicious, by Amber Rose, Penguin RandomHouse, $55