Let there be no doubt about it: raw food is not merely a question of using ingredients straight from the fridge without having to slave over a hot stove. In fact, the term ‘raw food’ defines a diet based on ingredients that have not been cooked, processed or even industrially frozen. A creamy tofu chocolate mousse sweetened with agave juice, for instance, is a dessert made from raw ingredients but nonetheless unsuitable for those following a raw food diet: the soy milk used to prepare the tofu was certainly boiled at a previous stage, the cocoa beans were roasted at a high temperature before being ground and the agave juice is probably pasteurized.
On first sight, it may seem to be the latest word on healthy eating but there is nothing revolutionary about consuming raw food: in actual fact it is the most ancient diet in the history of man, the only one in vogue before fire was discovered. It is no coincidence, therefore, that this diet based on raw ingredients alone (meat and animal products comprised) went under the name of Stone Age Diet in the 70’s and is now known as the Paleo Diet. Alongside the Paleo ramification, it is mainly in its vegan version that raw foodism has gathered its greatest number of convinced followers, a trend in constant expansion that has contributed to the opening of gourmet restaurants and an ever growing interest in the subject.
The philosophy of raw foodism is based on the simple concept of energy: if it is true that food is our fuel, then any food that is still “living”, with all of its nutritional properties intact – such as enzymes, minerals, vitamins, water and phytofactors which are wholly or partially destroyed during cooking – will be much richer and provide the real nourishment we need to satisfy our daily energy requirements. Don’t imagine, however, a table laid out with nothing but vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts and colourful shoots, destined to be transformed into simple salads. Thanks to the art of skilled and experimental chefs, raw foodism has assumed a form that is quite similar to that of traditional cuisine, by presenting complex dishes such as daikon spaghetti with basil pesto sauce, meatballs and burgers made from vegetables and cashews, seed-based pizza, bread and crackers, and even ice-cream or desserts to please those with a sweet tooth.
Banana ice-cream is the most delicious and easy flavours to make: it can be prepared in a few minutes by blending a ripe banana previously frozen in a domestic freezer. In order to try out these recipes (here is a raw zucchini vegan lasagna recipe), you will need to stock up on certified raw ingredients, as well as fruit and vegetables, which are widely available in organic food stores but unfortunately still sold at prohibitively high prices. And whilst it is true that a cooking hob is not necessary, get prepared to equip your kitchen with three fundamental gadgets: a good blender or semi-professional food processor capable of turning a few shelled walnuts into a creamy butter, a cold press juicer (since an excessively fast centrifugal force could increase the temperature of the ingredients and compromise their nutritional value) and a hot air dehydrator for household purposes. You will need the latter, for instance, to prepare crisp crackers made from a blend of seeds and vegetables, which calls for dehydration at a temperature no higher than 40° C and a lot of patience since this process can take from 8 to 12 hours.
Clare Smyth, Hélène Darroze and Nieves Barrágan Mohacho are just a few of the women recognised in CODE Hospitality's annual round-up of influential women creating positive change in the industry. See the list.