I love food.
I mean, I REALLY love food. I pondered why I have such an intense affinity for all things gastronomic. I was not short of answers to my query.
I love to play with my food. When cooking, hands truly are the best utensils. They can work magic rubbing herbs under the skin of a chicken or performing many other culinary tasks like no inanimate implement can. More importantly, there is something therapeutic about making meat loaf or kneading bread dough with my bare hands, like an epicurean stress ball, if you will. Pounding, patting, mashing, mixing. Eating with my bare hands brings pleasure as well, in a primal sense. Plucking mussels from their shells. Scooping up curry into a warm piece of naan. Licking off all the sauce.
I love to smell my food. Some like expensive perfume, give me bacon and onions. Freshly ground coffee evokes a mental happy dance. I even love the smell of garlic. While many stop in the floral department of the grocery store to smell the flowers, I head straight for the living basil in the produce section to catch a whiff. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg simmering on the stove immediately gives me memories of my favorite season, autumn.
Autumn. Apples. Spices. Warmth. I’ve always loved the seasonality of food. Autumn makes me crave warm stews, such as a chicken cacciatore or coq au vin, enjoyed in good company with a glass of red wine. Wintertime and I’m enjoying hearty breakfasts of nourishing oatmeal with nuts or exploring various hot beverages. With the arrival of spring so comes an abundance of produce and the desire for lighter meals, while in the hot summer I love experimenting with raw foods cooking and making various flavors of homemade ice cream.
I love discovering unique and unusual foods. Fiddlehead ferns, cricket flour, dragonfruit. I’ve tried them and more. Then I want to explore various ways to prepare these new flavors. Techniques are another fun activity for me. If I don’t already know how to do it, I’m ready to learn. Various eating styles intrigue me as well. I can cook and eat raw vegan, carnivorous paleo, and anything in-between.
I love being creative when it comes to food. What else can I turn into French fries? How many different dishes can I come up with that are all purple? What can I do to macaroni and cheese to make it healthier? I love pairing foods. Learning what flavors best go with what flavors so much so that it becomes automatic. Knowing which of these pairings are less common so I can WOW people with my creations, because they never would have thought those things would go together. Pairing wine with foods, yes, but other beverages as well, such as should I have a Darjeeling tea or an oolong with this dish?
I love the history of food. I often wonder who looked at some of the things we eat first and said “I wonder if I can eat THAT”. Let’s face it, some of our foods are not that easy to get into. The person who first shucked an oyster, more than likely with bare hands, must have either been really hungry or really patient. Someone had to be the one to decide to get past the hideous stench of durian to discover it was ok to eat. Oftentimes I laugh at myself because I know the history of mincemeat or how alfredo sauce came into being. I love knowing not only about different cuisines and customs, but subcategories within that cuisine. Chinese food isn’t just Chinese food; there’s Cantonese, Beijing, Sichuan, Mongolian and Hunan, and they are all distinctively different, much like France with its Nicoise, Provencal, Corsican, Alsatian and more. I even love personal traditions and memories with food. I am a trained chef and have worked in the business for many years, yet I will still make Chicken and Dumplings in the same simple and “semi-homemade” way my mother did, because it is the way my mother did.
I love the usefulness of food. Food is so much more to a living creature than tasting good and eliminating hunger pangs. Everything we could possibly need, every nutrient, every medicinal purpose can be found in our food. Certain foods even look like the organ they are best suited to assist. Walnuts, very high in healthful fatty acids, look like a tiny brain, which is the organ that needs those fatty acids, and a tomato, which is good for the heart, has its own four chambers. Real food, the kind that comes from mother earth, is truly our life blood. Healthful, balanced and nourishing foods can heal and repair the body and soul just as quick as garbage, faux foods posing as something edible, can destroy them.
Finally, I love to taste my food. Not chow down mindlessly while multitasking, but truly taste every morsel. I love intense flavors like a tannic red wine, an 85% cacao piece of dark chocolate, hot spice in every possible form you can imagine, sharp cheese, and double shot espresso. I appreciate the lusciousness of red, ripe, juicy strawberries in the height of their season. I love tasting the plethora of heirloom tomatoes or varieties of apples, appreciating the difference in each variety rather than simply seeing them as all just tomatoes and apples.
There are foods I haven’t tasted yet, techniques I haven’t learned, recipes I’ve yet to master. Perhaps this is what I love about food most of all – my learning will never end. There will always be something new to explore. I want to travel mostly for the food. When my husband takes me to his hometown of New York City, the first things on my agenda are to eat my way through Chinatown, have some Brooklyn style pizza, and get some knish at one of the best delis in town. I will not leave this planet until I’ve had pastry in France, tapas in Spain and mezze in Greece. With each new food I gain new experiences and memories that are as important to life as the food itself. Sharing great food and drink with wonderful friends over enchanting conversation in a beautiful environment is truly life’s pleasure. Food is my pleasure.
I love food.