Gastronomy Day: – Norwegian ingredients are a great canvas | Norwegian farmer

A young woman in a blue dress holds a bundle of carrots in her hand.  On the other hand, she has a big bowl of fresh salad.  The woman looks down at the power.  Photo: Gilberto Dibelian

food and production

Today marks the International Day of Sustainable Gastronomy. Chefs can be a bridge between the food producer and the consumer, says food activist and chef Mariana Debelian.

Food activist Mariana is passionate about trying good food, and prefers networking. Through their catering company, and Instagram profile (@mariannitas_), knowledge, commitment and inspiration are shared.

Mariana was previously the Vice President of Spire. I also participated as coordinator of the initiative Take back the sea and use the land, where she co-authored Matmeldinga – For A new, better and sustainable food policy (2020) with the Norwegian Farmers and Small Owners Association. She was also a co-author of the Latin American Group Solidarity Cookbook published that same year. Few could fit in better at an International Day of Sustainable Gastronomy from Mariana, who has roots and inspiration from Brazil, Armenia and Italy. With an Italian grandmother and an Armenian grandmother, she curled up early, bottled-up love in the kitchen and a colorful understanding of what might be on the plate.

I make a lot of Armenian, Italian and Brazilian inspired foods with Norwegian ingredients. I would like to point out that the Norwegian ingredients make a great plate, even for international food! My favorite is the hummus made with peas and mint. Or the bulgur can be replaced with barley grains, emmer or filled pearls.

A woman in a blue dress holds a bowl of lettuce and self-grown carrots.  In the background we see a coastal landscape.
Mariana Debelian is passionate about the sustainable diet.
Photo: Gilberto Dibelian

Mariana Debelian

residence: Oslo
age: would be 29 per month.
favorite dish: I especially like the food I grew up with, so the fusion between them.
Preferred raw materials: chives. I collect, freeze and make pesto…it works with just about everything!

Some sources of inspiration:

    • Credo and Heidi Bjarkan in Trondheim. They have a very exciting vision, and they create not only a restaurant, but a place to learn.
    • Nectar in Oslo. They are knowledgeable about the source of the ingredients, the food is absolutely fantastic, and the menus change according to the seasons.
    • Chef Tom Hunt from England Demo on British ingredients in season there. He is also familiar with food systems and food production.

Why and how does it work with sustainable food systems?

I have always been very committed to food. When I got involved in politics, I saw that the “hobby” had value, and when I started in the service industry, I realized more of the important role played by those who work closely with the consumer.

You hear numbers about soil health and extinct species, but it’s not easy to understand what that means on the plate. I don’t want to take a judicial role about what’s right and what’s wrong. This is very contextual, like where you are, who you are, and what you like.

Local food is a positive for climate accounts, and a positive for our farmers and fishermen, for food sovereignty. Eating our food is also solidarity. If we get more demand for local food, we may not have to waste much. If you’re going to make soup, it doesn’t matter if the carrots have two or three bones. It tastes digg anyway. And if there’s something you don’t like, you can challenge yourself. Try again even if you didn’t like it the first time. But an overcooked carrot doesn’t need anyone.

Blue casserole with fresh Norwegian vegetables and seeds.  The bowl is pictured from above.
Mariana uses Norwegian ingredients to recreate international dishes. Peas are just as good as chickpeas, while barley or chives can replace bulgur. Photo: Mariana Debelian

What is the role of gastronomy in working to ensure a sustainable food system?

Very important role! First, there is a lot of information out there. People don’t always know what to do when it comes to food. One day it is right to eat it, the other day not. There, gastronomy can play an important role and inspire innovation with well-known and lesser-known ingredients.

Second, chefs can be the bridge between the food producer and the consumer. Communication bridge. If you start to find out where the kale comes from, or about the fisherman who caught the crab, you will get a completely different approach to the raw material, and a completely different respect for the whole process.

The third is that all subjects are constantly evolving through research, which helps the development of society. Gastronomy is a subject in development, and therefore one should listen more to culinary experts when it comes to composition on the plate, both when it comes to the environment and health.

How can we ensure a sustainable diet in Norway?

It is clear that the changes have to take place at the system level. He does a lot of good things in the society we live in today. Be it a politician, a farmer, a fisherman or a consumer – everyone has a part to play in this. But we have a system, whether in Norway or globally, that does not benefit the planet nor people’s health.

Naming something sustainable is a problem in today’s society – we’re not there yet. Sustainability includes not only climate and environment but also equity and social aspects. We need a little change in the way we talk about sustainability to go in the right direction. A lot of people are starting to use the concept of sustainability, but we can’t begin to believe we’re there long before we get there.

People can get angry when it comes to food and sustainability. But there are many nuances, and it is important that we as citizens can have a greater understanding and room for discussion, and end either arguing or arguing.

What can the consumer do to contribute?

A consumer can do so much! Use your voice. When there is a choice, when you choose the food in the store, when you visit the REKO episode. Everyone can contribute something to ensure we have a better diet than we have today. If we want to change the system, they must understand at the top the desires of the people. Food is for everyone, so it is important that everyone participates. We’ve seen under COVID that more and more people have sought REKO. We are starting to see the value of local food and realize that we are at risk.

And as a chef, I would say: Be a little brave in the kitchen! Dare to try a new recipe, and dare to make something with an ingredient you’ve never tasted before. This is how we can build a stronger relationship between people and food.

A woman in a blue dress holds a handful of carrots in one hand, and an earthenware bowl with salad in the other.  She looks at the salad bowl happily.
Chef Mariana Debelian takes care of using ingredients that are short-lived in season. Try something new with your digestive system. This is how we can build a stronger relationship between people and food, she says. Photo: Gilberto Dibelian

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