Monday, August 16, 2010

An introduction

Life is, inexplicably, about food. I learned this the most when I lived for two years in a small village in the bush of Senegal. When we woke, we ate breakfast so that we could have energy to go to the fields to grow millet and peanuts. We ate lunch so that we could then spend the afternoon pounding the millet and shelling the peanuts. We ate dinner at the end of the day because we were ravenous from all the day’s labor. The women talked about dinner as they ate breakfast and meal preparation was a favorite topic of conversation.

Of course in America, our society has developed to be a little different -- most of us work all day not in fields but in offices and our harvest is not grains, but numbers that represent money. This then goes to buying food but we also have the added complexities of art, music, sports, and all kinds of extraneous entertainments to entertain ourselves with. But at every turn and corner, food and drink is still involved. Museums boast cafes. Concerts sell hot dogs. Go to the theater and before curtain call, you can buy wine and candies. Football games without tailgating?

In the past I have had a twisted relationship with food. I was once one of those skinny girls who could eat anything without gaining a pound but when I hit college, my eating habits began to catch up with me. I loved food and eating it, but there was -- of course -- a strong urge to be thin and pretty, which in the end, resulted in many solitary nights gorging on food and spending the next daylight hours eating nothing to make up for it.

Horrified at the path I was following, I made some changes and began working out, made changes to my diet, became more aware about nutrition. Most importantly, I began making food and discovered that I loved creating food. I love the process -- shopping for groceries and lovingly selecting beautiful vegetables, cutting and chopping and mincing, and then combining everything at different temperatures and times and rates with glorious results that please taste, smell, sight, and touch.

I also really love the eating experience. I think eating should be a social activity. Solitary eating still leads me to occasional bouts of gorging and subsequent guilt where there is nobody to keep me accountable and I find it a dangerous activity. When I eat by myself I tend to keep it simple to avoid eating 8 double chocolate chip cookies or a bag of chips as an excuse for dinner. But when I eat with others, I have no fear of fat or carbs or sugar. When I eat with others, I want to have the full experience of fellowship at the table. I think that life is mainly experienced through food and I have always believed that my ultimate expression of love is feeding those I care about. Nothing makes me happier than feeding, good, beautiful, and nutritious (or at least wholesome, sometimes you just need a lot of butter) food.

I’m starting this blog to write about food -- making it, consuming it, purchasing it, hating it, loving it, and most importantly, experiencing it. I’ve never been very good with measurements but I like sharing how I make my food -- I don’t believe in secret recipes and I don’t believe anybody can make the same dish the same way, so one should always share his or her methods without fear that it will be “stolen.” Plus, true cooks give credit where it is due.

I hope you will try out my ideas and share yours as well as suggestions to my little creations. Mostly, I hope you will actually let me feed you someday at a dinner party, an taste-test night, drunk brunch (my favorite!), or a meal out so that we can eat and drink life together! Welcome to my table.

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