Words: Raynor Peirce
Photography: Cory White
To some folks food is just another consumable commodity. The mechanics of its arrival to a supermarket shelf is of little concern.To others it is worshiped in the form of foam and fusion with new culinary experiences being sought out at all costs. Their table reservations are won through epic tests of human endurance, the whereabouts of mystical food vans discovered only after the solving of a series of online riddles.
Alternate philosophy has their passion deeply routed in a more time-honoured approach, of wind, rain and seasonal change. Food is a valued resource which is gathered, grown or hunted and ultimately enjoyed. Rohan Anderson is of this school. His blog wholelarderlove.com delectably documents his symbiotic relationship with the natural world and its ability to nourish himself and those at his table.
Rohan spent the better part of his childhood growing up in country Victoria, a southern state of Australia. It was here with exposure to livestock, a veggie garden and a nearby fresh water river that the proverbial seed was sown. The veggie garden, tended by Rohan and his mother, provided a constant supply of food for the family. “Mum would give me the basket and say this is what I want for dinner and I would go out and treat it like it was a supermarket” says Rohan. “I didn’t even know any of the buzz words like organic or in season, it’s just what we did.”
Rural life nurtured an understanding of the environment and in particular the seasonal nuances. “I love the different quirks of each season. You see how everything is connected.” It’s a sensibility that appears to have only intensified over time. Daily life for Rohan involves an acute awareness of nature’s cyclic patterns. It is knowledge attained through engagement and participation. Seasonal fare fills his kitchen and flavour’s his meals. From the abundant springtime veg, to winter stews of rabbit or duck, the food is always fresh and predominately grown, foraged or killed by his own hand. “I love the concept of just living off what is available at the time, as opposed to what is convenient.”
Like the man, his meals are practical and hearty with influences drawn from typical Spanish and Italian peasant fare. In fact his entire food ethos would sit quite comfortably within the small villages of these countries. And, having received no formal training, Rohan attributes his gastronomic abilities to observation and research.
If the love of the food and the lifestyle were originally the catalyst of Rohan’s passion, then a desire to live a more sustainable existence is now providing the major impetus. Having completed a resource management course at university and participating in reforestation programs Rohan realised that a larger, more positive, environmental impact could be achieved by sharing his ideology. With the complexity and sheer scale of our environmental plight often leaving the average individual feeling hopeless and despondent, Rohan’s simple hands on approach provides a positive and empowering option to idleness. Don’t get me wrong, he is a realist and understands that the majority of the city dwelling population cannot achieve total self-sufficiency, but he believes it is well within everyone’s ability to live more sustainably. And why not? Especially when the act of growing our own produce or consciously eating seasonable fare not only avoids the carbon footprint of delivery and storage but is also complimented by the benefits of taste and freshness. This message goes beyond the scope of food. It’s about purging ourselves from the daily grind just long enough to stop, think and engage in the world around us. “The worst thing humanity ever did was to divorce itself from nature. This life, it just works you know. It just feels so right.”
October 2012 marks the next phase for the “wholelarderlove” phenomena, with the release of a cookbook. Like the blog its images are highly stylised with the content being candid, thought provoking and tangibly mouth watering. Featuring Rohan’s very own photography and words, the book is an excellent example of what can be achieved with some desire, direction and an aspiration to literally get ones hands dirty.
In the short time spent with Rohan there is one moment that poetically epitomises the man. We are travelling a bumpy trail through a revegetated pine forest, a box full of wild saffron milk cap mushrooms on board, when Rohan hits the brakes. “I’ve never been down that track” he excitedly remarks. By the state of the track he’s not Robison Crusoe. Hubs are engaged and we attack our new route at full tilt. Fortuitously we are brought back to the main road exactly where we wanted to be, having discovered a new shortcut. It’s this adventurous spirit, a willingness to constantly challenge the boundaries of his established knowledge that is at the core of all of his achievements. Sure there are failures, quickly written off as part of the learning process, but if you keep putting yourself out there eventually you will find yourself travelling along the right road.
Insert rudimentary question: Stones or Beatles? Stones. Always Stones