Sunday, September 19, 2010

"That which is worth eating should be worth savoring"

I was talking to my friend a little while ago, and was telling her how I have not always loved food the way I do now. She was surprised, because I talk about food all the time, and it is something I love so much, and cherish about being alive.

I have always been a kind of picky eater. I don't know if on the spectrum of picky eaters that my pickiness is that much, but I would definitely say I am somewhat picky. I can't stand to eat a warm sandwich, do not much like peanut butter and jelly.

Ever since I have moved out of the house, I have enjoyed cooking, the act of creation, it is just something I am drawn to. Being married to Janardan, and his not appreciating or really eating anything that I made that did not come from a box just made me not want to cook for him, but I still liked to cook things for myself, but I still think I had a bit of guilt when I would make things for myself and not want to make whatever he would eat for him, even if I did try to avoid feeling it.

Then we lived in Texas, and that was a very weird food adventure, living in a vegetarian household. I've always eaten meat and enjoyed it. I liked this guy in high school who claimed to be a vegetarian (I don't think he actually was), and it made me consider being a vegetarian, and I didn't eat meat for about two weeks. The last day of my vegetarianism, I was fasting, and my purpose was to determine if I should be a vegetarian. The conclusion I came to was that I should not, based on a scripture in the D&C, and a line from my patriarchal blessing. It was a moment of anxiety for me, as my dad had made Sunday dinner, and was making chicken, so I knew I would have to either tell him I wanted to be vegetarian, or eat the chicken. I ended up eating the chicken salad, and it was delcious.

So being in Texas, just having something denied to me made it that much more difficult not to eat it. I did not eat a ton of meat before I moved to Texas, but just not being able to eat it, I went kind of crazy and craved it a lot. I bought beef jerky to put in my car, just as my safety net, so that if I ever just like had a craving too bad, I could go out and eat some. I don't think I ever did, but it made me feel better. I would order things with meat every time I went out to eat. My dad took me to my first Brazilian barbecue during that period of time, and it was the perfect time to indulge in so much meat.

When I got back from Texas, I still kept eating tons of meat, just like, wanted to get it in while I could, still feeling that scarcity mentality. I still have a bit of meat in my freezer that I bought during that period of time.

There are too many factors to list each individually, but I would say that there are three factors that have influenced me the most in my present relationship with food. The first was a lesson we had in Sunday School about the word of wisdom, and there are lots of beautiful words in there about enjoying fruits in the season thereof, and lots of things about in the seasons. It was then I realized that I had no concept of what things were in season, that I had no idea what the seasons of food were. I do not think I anticipated how much I would change by that, just asking that simple question, "What is in season?" And it is a question that has made me love food.

It is the step beyond just eating to live, and going to the point where you live to eat. It is that question that first took me to the farmers market in Provo last year, that took me to the Promenade in Pleasant Grove, where I met the farmer that I now get my CSA from (Community Supported Agriculture - it is kind of like getting a share of the harvest). It is that question that brought me excitedly to the first week of the farmers market this year, where I fell in love with asparagus. I had never liked it before when I had had it, but I was craving something fresh, something wonderful, and asparagus fit the bill. It is what brought me to try all sorts of things. It is what today brought me to be eating a pepper like an apple (actually that owes itself to my dabble into raw foodism too, which I found to be unrealistic, but helped me appreciate that some things can just be eaten wholly raw, and be quite good.)

The second factor is probably Pizzeria 712. There is a quote they have on their wall, on their website, and seems to be a bit of their motto, ""When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is." - Alice Waters. I have thought of that quote a lot, and the food I love to eat at Pizzeria 712, as I have cooked this summer. Perhaps my favorite meal that I have made this year...ok, there are too many, so many have been yummy, but one, I just threw together a bit of everything that I had at the time, and cooked it, and it was so delicious. It is because of that motto. The best and the tastiest are what is in season -right now-. You can make some great combinations. Man, I have eaten some delicious things this year.

The third factor has probably been Food Inc. Trying to eat locally (another factor influenced by my sister, but also by just knowing what is seasonal by what is grown around you) pushed me to want to eat meat that was at least grown in Utah, but watching Food Inc. made me care so much more what kind of meat it was that I buy. It makes things like chicken broth so much harder, but also so much better. I have 5 chickens in my freezer, and I will probably eat them at a rate of one per month, if not less often, so that I can spread it out until I am able to order another bunch. But it is not just the chicken that I cherish. I have the skins in my freezer right now, no idea what I am going to do with them, but I will figure out something to do with them sometime, but I cherish those bones so much, because they will make wonderful, delectable chicken broth.

One thing I have found in my food journey is that most things I think I do not like, I do not like because I simply have not had the best, or because I have not found a setting which I like it in yet. Like the day I had stuffed mushrooms changed me forever towards mushrooms. I now love them, in so so many ways. Right now I do not really care for turnips or radishes, but I will continue to try them in different settings, when offered by other people, in the search of the thing that will change me toward them, because I believe that every food out there can bring me a joy and satisfaction.

I love food, because it is a precious gift. It is a gift of labor, of life.

I have the quote that is the title here hanging up in my kitchen. It is not because I think it speaks of some quintessential part of me, that it just defines me, but as a reminder to me, that I enjoy life, I enjoy eating, I enjoy food better when I savor it. I work hard to keep food worth savoring all around me, by eating seasonal, by having the best milk, the best meat, the best cheese. Today I got to work, and wanted to eat something before I needed to start work to replenish myself a little from my bike ride, and so I was chomping down a fresh red pepper. Then I thought of that quote, and slowed down, and ate and chewed with appreciation. What a wonderful time of year, a wonderful season, to be the time when this pepper was picked at perfection, so that I could then be savoring it at that moment.

I hope my journey has just begun.

No comments:

Post a Comment