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23 September 2008

Defining Artisan Food

A friend mails a simple query: how do you define artisan food?

Well, the Taste Council definition is:
Artisan Food is defined as a superior tasting food, which commands a higher price in its category. Superior taste is achieved through food making skill

I don't think that really gets to the heart of the matter, however.

My own old definition, now a rather old one is the Four P's:

Artisan food encompasses:
a Person
a Place
a Product
a Passion

But, here is something better, from Lori de Mori's brilliant Bean Eaters & Bread Soup:

“A kind of personal integrity that can be confused with eccentricity: 'however strange it may seem to you, this is the way I do things'

"Pride without arrogance: a sincere belief in the excellence of their work

"Humility and steadfastness: the ability to light the wood stove, milk the ewes, coax the bees out of their hives – quietly, without pretence – day after day, year after year.

"The belief that their work is not a means to something else, but one of the ways to give meaning to their lives.

"Genius: the brilliance that comes to those driven by their personal vision rather than a desire for success, money or fame.

"Generosity: they have no secrets. If you appreciate what they do, they'll tell you everything they know... and usually set a place for you at their table”.

For me , that's as good as a definition can get, I think: Integrity; pride, humility, meaning; genius, generosity.

I shall return to Ms de Mori's brilliant book soon, for I have been reading it slowly, savouring each chapter as if it is a glass of Vin Santo.