What does rustic food mean to you? What it means to me is the sense of home. The warm feeling I got from eating at my grandparent's home on the weekends. It means simpler food. Food, that does not sacrifice flavor. It just uses it in a different sort of way.
My grandmother loved to bake bread. It wasn't a hobby for her it was one of her passions and it was also one of my passions as well. The eating part. Great homemade bread is the type that is most delicious when it is eaten warm. The type of bread with a crunchy crust and soft steaming insides. She used to bake a honey wheat bread which I can smell even to this day.
It makes my mouth water even now.
Soup is another down to earth meal. The thought of thick warming soups that have a hearty flavor; Chili's and chowders are another family favorite, a classic of home cooked meals.
If there were desserts, and with my grandmother there often were, you would get a steaming cobbler with vanilla ice cream or such.
My grandmother would cook all day though it never appeared to her to be a chore. It was a wonder and a delight when I got the chance to help her. And to me, it did not feel like work. The food was both simple and amazing (her meatloaf was simply amazing) and the time was well spent.
But if it all sounds perfect where does the rustic aspect come from? Why would I use that as a way to define it?
The reason is this – the ingredients are cheaper, yet wholesome food: the cuts of meat were cheaper but they were delicious because they got roasted all day. She didn't cut things small. Even as children she expected us to use a knife and fork properly. That equaled larger, rougher cuts of vegetables.
This all adds up and that is why when I say rustic – for me personally it is not about lack of presentation or the use of specific cooking utensils. No, it isn't any of that. If this same type of food is served in a restaurant – they are describing their cuisine to draw guests in. This also means that it comes served in such a way to make it feel special. Boards instead of plates with steeply marked up prices.
For me it is this: Simple home-cooked food that tastes good and makes you feel good. It is filling, but not fat. It is savory and healthy.
Nothing fancy, no big events, but wholesome.