As published in De Standaard on 21/11/2015
'De kijk van Van Dyck', columns by Fons Van Dyck
You are what you eat. What appears on our plate every day says a lot about who we are or what is important in our lives. Since a few weeks, in my home a recipe from the cookbooks by Pascale Naessens is on the menu on a regular basis, and I'm certainly not the only one. The books by Naessens will soon compete with the cookbook by KVLV (Catholic rural women's institute who won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award). Naessens has set an entire movement in motion, whereby people are allowed to enjoy their food again, become more healthy and also even lose weight. And with just an average preparation time of 20 minutes. Naessens is a phenomenon, and without much market research being involved.
She was once sacked from the VTM TV network and a renowned publisher such as Lannoo refused her first manuscript. She is not a TV chef either. Pascale is mainly the 'girl next door', without caprices or airs and graces. Completely authentic, and a little bit anti-establishment, with a feminine touch.
Is this not a hype and will we not throng round another cookbook next year again at the Book Fair? The future will tell. However, what I do know is that the massive support for Naessens, separate to marketing and media, has a fundamental undercurrent of our society as a basis. Since the beginning of the millennium people have been searching for clarity, simplicity and purity, in a globalized world which feels more and more menacing (from 9/11 to Charlie Hebdo and last week Bataclan).They are finished with a world of material profusion, mental excesses and bad habits and this new approach feels like a purification. In many cases, people make those life choices themselves, certainly with regard to nutrition and health. We eat food every day, so this is also an area which we can change and manage the quickest. These are literally the words from the chapter about 'purity' in my book, The power of white (De kracht van wit), published in 2009, in the aftermath of the bank crisis which lead to a worldwide financial and economic crisis. A crisis which some believe was also a crisis of conscience. I don’t know whether Pascale Naessens has read my book, and I don't know anything about cooking either, but the philosophy behind her recipes aligns perfectly with my beliefs . And provided it concerns fundamental human motives, her success is not really surprising. There is a good chance that she will teach new generations to cook, eat and think differently.
Earlier this week, a colleague asked me whether I would write in this column about terrorism and the anxiety psychosis which meanwhile grips us. Indeed, this column does have everything to do with the terrible world around us. Pure food makes you happy (Puur eten maakt je gelukkig) is the subtitle of one of the books by Pascale Naessens.
People are in search of some happiness. Unfortunately, they find that less and less in the outside world, but they do find it in the presence of family and friends around a beautifully laid table. Those are our last assurances.
Pascale Naessens does not gain loud newspaper headings, but she is the catalyst of a silent revolution which is taking place - it may be silent but it is no less radical. In the minds of hundreds of thousands of families in Flanders, and mainly in how they think about food. It is without a doubt an exaggeration, but Pascale Naessens is just as disruptive to the food industry as Airbnb and Uber are to their sectors. For the fiercely teased food industry, it is a matter of quickly adapting to the spirit of the time or soon being outpaced. It is an industry which should take the signals really seriously from consumer organizations, such as Test-Aankoop, calling on fast food chains to no longer buy meat from animals that are given antibiotics as standard. Some have already understood that, for others it is still not too late. 'Pure' is the new norm.
* You can also read the Dutch article in the PDF file below.
'There is a good chance that Pascale Naessens will teach new generations to cook, eat and think differently.'