Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Birth of a "Foodie"

A message I received last week from one of my best friends got me thinking about when and how I really became a “foodie”.

For a long time now I’ve told people that I started getting into food when I met my husband and he made me try such unfamiliar things as sushi, Thai food, and falafel (can there even be existence without these things?!?). But the message made me reconsider. I started thinking about all my food memories from childhood.

I thought first about my grandmother, who died when I was six. She lived with us for a while, and was a true Southern woman. She drank sweet tea and thick black coffee. She made chicken and dumplings (the recipe to which I happily became the culinary heir to), and fried green tomatoes and Lobster Newburg. I don’t really remember cooking with her, but now whenever I eat or think about these dishes, my grandmother is all around.

My Grandmother - "nanny"

Then of course there are the food memories with my friend. One summer we decided to try selling candies (we always had some kind of project or scheme in the works). We spent most of the summer in the kitchen making huge messes trying to make our own peanut butter cups. They never worked, but oh how we tried! At some point we also began meeting early in the morning on weekends in her backyard to have breakfasts. That was my first experience making omelettes and pancakes and it truly cemented in my love for a good breakfast.

Breakfast sandwich with foccacia, ham, and eggs

I also have memories of cooking with my mom. I always remember a particular Thanksgiving with my mom. We were making pies the night before going to my aunt’s house. Lemon and chocolate cream pies have always been the specialty in our family – there aren’t many holidays without my dad demanding a cream pie of some sort.

I carry on the tradition of pies for the holidays every year - this one is apple cranberry

At times my obsession with food (what I like to call my "foodie-ness") feels a little silly to me. I think I could be doing a lot of other things with my time. But thinking about these memories has given me new insight into why food is so important, why it isn’t just some waste of time. Food is a part of the memories and the heritage of a person, a culture, a society. It connects us to one another, creates memories, and adds meaning. It makes us human. We are not some animal that just pecks or hunts around for any scrap we can find. If willing, we are gourmets, thoughtful consumers, passionate advocates and critics.

I don't know when exactly I became a "foodie" but all these little memories add up to create my life in food. They help define me and give my life beauty and I'm proud to wear the badge of "foodie".


Shannon said...

Love it! I wish we could cook together again, though it looks like you are decidedly more refined. I might be intimidated!
Loved our scheming. We rocked! (present tense also...obviously.) :)

Nova Walsh: said...

I wish we could cook together again too! And I'm certainly not more refined - maybe just more obsessed :) We did (and do!) rock, you're right!