Food

My parents say I fell in love with food at first bite, and I must say it is a romance that has not faded. I consumed any and all comestibles in my path, earning myself the embarrassing, but accurate nickname, “bottomless pit,” bestowed upon me by a friend’s dad. As soon as I was allowed to be alone in the kitchen, my proficiency at eating segued quite naturally into “cooking.” At age seven, I had convinced myself I would be a master chef/part-time firefighter/paleontologist/first woman in major-league baseball (I was a somewhat clueless, but avid opponent to gender roles--darn them if they made me wear a dress!) and as pots and pans were more readily available and less dangerous than house fires and dinosaur bones, I started to explore the kitchen. My first creations were “nibbles.” I was truly a pioneer in the field of modern culinary arts, and through my research had concluded that if you cut up an orange (or carrot or onion or tofu) into very small pieces, they tasted better, and could be distributed as “nibbles.” Once I began to use the oven under the police-like watch of my parents (couldn’t they leave me alone to my art?!?!), I began to bake, and would pour over recipes for pies, breads, cookies, and cakes. Now, for most of my life, I have held the misconception that nonfiction is boring. As a preteen, I occasionally took out a book about World War II or science experiments, but generally stayed firmly planted in the fiction section. In high school, I read nonfiction when it was required for a class, but any good feelings I had about the material were obliterated by the response and analysis papers I had to write. This past December, gift card in hand, I entered Porter Square Books fully expecting to purchase a cookbook. Instead I found myself stuck staring at the food writing. Why had I not explored this genre before? It combined two of my passions: food and writing! With the purchase of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, eighteen years of stubborn avoidance of nonfiction came to a close, and a new chapter of my culinary and intellectual life began. I devoured the book. Well, I was still in school so I guess it would be more correct to say I savored it. I didn’t have a lot of time to read, but I made sure I set aside at least ten minutes every day. Page by page, nibble by nibble, I took my time to let each piece of information sink in. During lunch I shared my newly acquired knowledge with my supportive, but clearly bored friends, and when they did not respond with the appropriate levels of enthusiasm, found some innocent teacher to thrust my information upon. (Did you know that people Michael Pollan HUNTED and KILLED a  wild pig? And that fresh eggs do not taste or look the same as eggs you get at the grocery store? Have you had a fresh egg? Where could I find a fresh egg? I think my walls are the same color as the egg yolks Pollan describes. Can you imagine that color?) I was hungry for more. I began reading food blogs, bought another one of Pollan’s books, read Farm City (coincidentally a Somerville Reads book), and read Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw. In fact, it seems I discovered this passion of mine at the right time; food seems to be the new hot topic. There are many blogs, articles, and books on the subject right at my fingertips. But what makes food writing so accessible, is its relevancy. Even after the trend fades, it will still be relevant to talk about food. What we put into our bodies will always be important, and where we get our food and how it is produced is just as important. While it seems every generation has its own personality, food is something that unites us all. We must eat to survive and the decisions we make around our food have wide-reaching effects. As I slowly venture into the adult world, I look forward to using the knowledge I have gathered to make my own informed food choices.  

Add new comment