Q&A with Jamie Oliver: Arizona

Jamie Oliver gives us an insight into his experience in Arizona while shooting his show, Jamie's American Road Trip


It looked pretty cold in Arizona, was it?

Arizona was absolutely freezing! The whole experience was enchanting but bleak, inspiring yet depressing. The Navajo are incredible – their way of life, respect for the land and each other is amazing. Their ability to hunt and stay alive in such rugged, extreme conditions really impressed me. They are lovely, lovely people. Historically, I think the Navajo people have been fairly oppressed and treated very badly by the settlers who came to America and took their country over. Unfortunately, their situation is still really difficult and theirs is a way of life that seems to be dying out. I think (without being too philosophical about the whole thing) a lot of what America and the rest of us need to do to become a healthier nations could be learnt from the Navajo people: respect for farming, eating local food and not taking more than you need.

Are there any similarities between your campaigns such as School Dinners and Ministry of Food and Roy’s work to get young Navajo people interested in the food and traditions of their people?

Roy, like myself, has been campaigning to make sure kids have an appreciation of things that are important and relevant to modern day life. The things he’s promoting are there to make these young people socially richer and ultimately, happier. The big difference between our campaigns is that Roy is really swimming against the tide. He hasn’t got the means of television or the media to help tell his story like I did (not until we came along anyway). But he’s doing wonderful work and I wish him all the luck in the world.

Had you ever heard of anyone cooking with cedar ash and what was it like?

I hadn’t seen that before. It was very strange and it sort of felt like there were very fine grits in the food. But I think that you could get used to it. The tastes and textures didn’t really offend me, and from what I was told, cedar ash actually has some incredible health benefits, so that was really interesting.



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