There are always new findings about the food value of what we eat, some true… , …some not…


Back to the way the Romans used to cook. They too used olive oil, lemon, fruit juices and wine for cooking. Today’s cooking is “less greasy” than ten, twenty years ago.

To eat moderately and daily exercises are part of today’s healthy living trend. This includes the demand for less fattening food. The way how many customers order has much to do with so-called proven methods to keep bad cholesterol down. It is understandable that people wish to stay young longer and to have a healthy life. Trends change quickly. Till the newspapers reported that a glass or two of red wine is not only good for the digestion but needed for overall good health, red wine sales were down. Since the article, red wine sales have risen to record levels.
Some people look at a balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acid as the solution, others read nutrition labels before they buy whatever they need in the store. At a restaurant, the kitchen has to cater to the changing wants of the customers. Such changes include the replacement of heavy sauces with lighter ones. The use of olive oil is up. Butter and cream are less often used. That’s back to the way the Romans used to cook. They too used olive oil, lemon, fruit juices and wine for cooking. Today’s cooking is “less greasy” than ten, twenty years ago. Many sauces are made from wine based reductions may it be white wine, Marsala, Sherry, Port wine or red wine. Anything light is popular in restaurants. This does not mean the end has come for sauce Hollandaise made from butter and egg-yolk, sauce Béarnaise, sauce Choron and all the other butter based sauces. No! Never! Some sauces will never be completely replaced by light imitations, but they are less used these days. If unsure about the calorie content of a sauce or dressing, customers do ask for the sauce to be served on the side.
There are always new findings about the food value of what we eat. Many reports are controversial and a good number of these are even outright questionable. Some of the ones I have heard over the years from customers are:

“Spaghetti eating makes you fat!”

“Chinese food is not only fattening but also dangerous due to the high amounts of MSG used!”

“All Mexican food is loaded with fats which are not good for you!”

“German food is greasy!”

“Austrian desserts are all butter and sugar!”

“Red meat is not good for you.”

“Beef hardens your arteries!”

“Milk is only good for babies and butter has too many calories!”

“Lamb should never be eaten raw.”

“Sausages are stuffed with fillers and meat otherwise unsuitable for sale.”

“Fish has to be cooked well!”

These are just a few samples. And I don’t believe what I hear. I think that getting fat has something to do with how much one eats and how well the digestive system works. I do not think there is anything wrong with having pasta every day or bread. I used to eat bread and cold cuts, German sausages, every day for many years, I did not gain a pound. Now I myself eat regularly Chinese, Korean or Japanese food. I enjoy sticky rice and add to it some fish, some meat, some vegetables. I like it and I do not listen to any one trying to tell me, that it is not good. The Orientals don’t get fat from it, but I have gained a few pounds from healthy oriental food. I have Mexican food every so often and may it be their seafood soup, their tamales, their roasted meat, their refried beans or the tortillas? I don’t think Mexican food is unhealthy. I can say the same about German food and I have eaten many German meals. True Eisbein and Kalbshaxe or ham hocks and veal shanks are not everyone’s taste, but there are hundreds of German dishes which are light and not greasy at all. Then there are the ones who say anything from a cow is not good for you. Don’t eat butter! Don’t eat beef! Don’t drink milk! I do not think there is any scientific proof available that eating butter, drinking milk and having a nice juicy prime rib every Friday and a steak on Sundays are unhealthy. I think it is the amount we eat verses the amount of exercise we get while working, walking or playing, which we should consider.
What about the creamy rich desserts? The soufflés, the chocolate desserts and the creamy cheese cakes have still their dedicated followers. However where in the past the customer asked for a plate of cheese and fruit after the meal, these requests have nearly vanished, just fruit after the meal is common.
Fads and hypes are coming and going. There are voices asking for nutritional numbers on restaurant menus. Till such time, that the menu labels the ingredients by nutritional value, I suggest to my guest to try anything on the menu. I also recommend eating as much as they feel is good for them.

If asked about healthy food I respond with: “Any food on our menu is healthy. It just depends on what you like most, how much you eat and also what you do afterwards…!” If the guest persists to ask questions about healthy food, I add: “If you look for light fare, I recommend all the pastas, the salads and all the seafood dishes.”

by helmut schonwalder