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Qin Xie’s 39 steps to being a better foodie


In the Telegraph today was a piece about another piece in Country Life. The headline was ‘Country Life’s 39 Steps to a better life’ and the premise (paraphrased) was that if young people are equipped with these 39 skills, they will be better equipped for life. They wanted to started a debate, so here it is.

Going through the list I am able to tick off very few, while others I know can do a lot more. I guess I’m just ill-equipped. I want to say that it’s universally accepted that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall can probably do all those and more. It’s probably true.

The real cause for concern is how little food related things there are (only about five). I suppose not everything’s about food right? But if it is, consider 39 things to do:

  1. Make a soufflé. Or perhaps an apple tarte tatin. Something difficult. It probably won’t work the first time but when it does, it will taste like the best thing in the world.
  2. Do a taste comparison, and then do it blind.
  3. Discover fermentation of more unusual things.
  4. Make bread, by hand. Ditch the machinery and go old school with all the kneading, proofing and more kneading. Hard work tastes good (usually).
  5. Learn some butchery skills. And then some fancy fish work. Maybe even a bit of crustacean manipulation.
  6. Trace something you’ve eaten. It will give you food for thought.
  7. Do a food challenge. It will change the way you look at food.
  8. Go forage for some food, maybe even an entire meal.
  9. Find a delightful dive – food is excellent, everything else is probably below par.
  10. Eat something ridiculously expensive, even if it’s just the once. Good or bad, it will probably be the thing that you will talk about forever.
  11. Have a food fight.
  12. Experience food from another era.
  13. Imagine a feast. The best feast you could ever have. Make it happen.
  14. Recreate your favourite childhood menu, and invite your friends to share.
  15. Experiment with smoking things.
  16. Fast. Think about what you’re craving the most and why.
  17. (Re)Create a food gimmick.
  18. Visit the producers of your favourite food and see what you find.
  19. Make your own alcoholic beverage. Calculate it down to the nth degree – you want to be able to get it right every time right?
  20. Challenge your senses. Say eat something incredibly nice in a ridiculously foul environment.
  21. Throw a dinner party (and invite me).
  22. Eat the same thing each day and find something new about it everyday.
  23. Eat something in high altitude and then the same below sea level. Taste the difference?
  24. Cook a gourmet camping feast.
  25. Make a preserve from fresh ingredients and enjoy it when it’s out of season.
  26. Go on a food safari.
  27. Create a recipe, develop it, improve it.
  28. Cure something, be it meat, fish or other(?).
  29. Eat the same thing, as many different ways as you can imagine. Can you have a steamed roast?
  30. Prepare something from start to finish, in that classic Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall way – raise it, kill it, cook it, eat it.
  31. Figure out the recipe to your favourite bought food.
  32. Try something you know you hate. It may surprise you. Even Brussel sprouts.
  33. Consider food, as something other than food. After all, Socrates said the unexamined life wasn’t a life worth living. Unexamined food should surely be similarly respected?
  34. Learn enough about your drink to make your drink worthwhile.
  35. Create a menu, based only on one product.
  36. Have something not in the way that it was intended. Meat smoothie anyone?
  37. Eat food from as many different cultures as possible, in one day.
  38. Create a piece of art, with food.
  39. Call yourself a foodie? Start a food blog.
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Qin Xie
Qin Xie is a London based food, wine and travel journalist and trained chef. When not infiltrating Michelin restaurants as a kitchen tourist, she writes about food, drink and travel. Her work has appeared on Yahoo, FT, The Times and CNN. Her first cookbook, co-authored with YS Peng at Hunan Restaurant, is out March 2014. According to friends, her watch is always set to UTC -- ready for the next big adventure. In reality, she is happiest at the dinner table or by the sea.

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