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Exploring 'real food' with Crouch End u3a

11 April 2024

Crouch End & District u3a's real food group explores great cooking and what food means to different people. Group leaders Sally and Lesley share where the initial idea came from and how the group has been going so far.

Two members of the group holding up jars of food they have fermented

A photo from the group's recent fermentation session.

We decided to set up a real food group at Crouch End & District u3a because we are both passionate about all things foodie: eating, cooking, drinking, and learning about ingredients, diverse cultures and food in the UK now. I [Sally] have always loved cooking with family and friends - I find it social, mediative and a great learning experience.

The group is called Real Food as we are interested in great cooking, possibly from scratch, with great ingredients (calling to mind the Nigel Slater book of the same name) AND accepting that food means different things to different people but is also real. We accept that we lead busy lives - so some people may cook with frozen vegetables or ready meals - and that is okay.

We wanted the group to help members develop a greater interest in food, where it comes from, it’s seasonality, and it's healthiness.

There have been five sessions so far:

  1. Introduction, where we discussed what members want from the group and hosted a foodie quiz.
  2. A visito to ‘Bang Bang’ where we discussed Asian food. 
  3. Fermentation class: a local chef and fermentation expert led a class on how to make kraut
  4. Talks by local food bank / food recycling / The Felix trust which cooks meals for those in need
  5. In March, we showcased the tomato. Members cooked and tasted different recipes, blind tasted tomato soup and we also shared tomato facts and general top tips for how to cook them.

In April, we are asking a few members to bring an idea, give a talk or review a cook book for about 10-15 minutes each.

Each session has a recipe and cook book exchange. The lovely thing about the group so far has been the high interest and passion about food and the great participation and willingness of members to get involved.

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