The word “artisan” comes from the Italian artigiano, meaning a craft or craftsman. When used to describe food it generally means homemade in small batches; cuisine that is created with love and attention to detail, as opposed to mass produced factory food.
We live in fast-paced times, where crops are genetically modified, animals are intensively farmed and much of our food is produced by machines, leaving many of us hankering for purer, simpler times. The artisanal food trend that has swept the globe is a clear reflection of this sentiment. When products are made by hand people take more time and care, so the taste and quality is generally higher. “Human hands are important,” says Emily Olson, co-founder of Foodzie.com, a website devoted to promoting artisan foods. “There’s something to be said for that human touch, to ensure the product is meeting those standards.”
European artisanal traditions
The years I spent living amidst the olive groves of southern Italy gave me a wonderful insight into a tradition-bound artisan food culture. Each October we would harvest olives from thousand year-old olive trees and take them to the local village press where a thick, green oil was extracted – pure, organic extra virgin olive oil – and it tasted heavenly. Fresh citrus fruit and juicy tomatoes came from neighbouring farms, Limoncello was made in our friend’s fragrant lemon groves, and our wine chosen from the cellars of a local wine maker. Early mornings would generally find us waiting patiently outside the bakery for the first batch of cornetti (pastries) filled with fresh homemade Nutella. Our life seemed to revolve around food, and I can honestly say that eating has never been such a pleasure!
Artisanal cuisine in Indonesia.
In developing nations such as Indonesia, a lot of food is still handmade and produced on a small scale, and could thus be considered artisanal. Here in Bali I buy organic coffee harvested on the rich volcanic slopes of Kintamani, homemade strawberry jam from a farm in Bedugul, chocolate made with organic cacao and vanilla grown on the island, and whenever I visit Amed I stock up on hand crafted artisanal salt, sun dried by the sea using centuries old traditions. Kayun, which translates into something akin to ‘heart touch’ is one of my favourite Indonesian restaurants and isl ocated in the village of Mas – famed for its wood carvings. At this atmospheric garden warung everything, from brem (rice wine) to spicy chilly sauce, coconut oil and jamus (health tonics) are made by hand. A number of European style restaurants in Bali are also embracing the artisanal food trend. La Finca in Berawa serves up authentic, heart-felt Spanish and Mediterranean style cuisine in charmingly rustic surroundings. Monsieur Spoon bakes traditional French bread and pastries, while Chef Eeelke Plasmeijer at Alila, Ubud makes hams, pates, roasts and sausage for his charcuterie platter, accompanied with delicious homemade chutneys.
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