The other day, I was trying to pinpoint where my food obsession started. Growing up, I would bake occasionally and maybe make some scrambled eggs. The was the extend of my cooking. My mother nearly always made a homemade dinner and my father is known for his big breakfasts. I did watch the Food Network when I was younger but I was also picky too and not really willing to try new things. I didn’t even eat pasta. I know. My husband didn’t either. We say it was fate when we met because we were the only two people in the world who didn’t like pasta. I digress.
I chose to study abroad in Italy during the spring semester of my Junior year in college (2008). I distinctly remember forcing myself to eat ziti in my college’s cafeteria knowing I would need to like it before I go. I know, I know, I’m crazy. Little did I realize, Italy was the best place in the world for amazing food.
I studied in a small city called Perugia which is halfway between Florence and Rome smack dab in the middle of Italy in Umbria. I learned to foodshop the “Italian way” by going to the teeny, tiny grocery store a few times per week. I remember realizing just how fresh the food was there in comparison to the US. I was appalled when my ball of mozzarella only lasted two days before going moldy. I learned that Italians do not drink coffee on the go and iced coffee does not really exist. I learned that Italians take the time to really enjoy their meals. Some meals I attended lasted 4-5 hours with multiple courses yet I didn’t feel disgusting. I was forced to learn how to cook for myself with limited resources. I traveled to other countries and learned other food cultures.
But I think where it really started was a Food and Culture class that I took as part of the curriculum in Perugia. We had a German professor who was so passionate about food and teaching us about food. We visited a cafe and did a wine tasting. I wrote a report on Kosher food. I visited an “agriturismo” which was basically a farmhouse that was also made for vacationing. All food is made right there. Here we watched Italian women make pasta (that we ate later), saw how olive oil was made, and drank wine from the vineyard. This is where my slow descent/ascent (whichever way you look at it) began in my love affair with food.
Since then, I have become more and more interested in food. I went through the Weight Watchers phase and ate lots of low-fat, highly processed things. But as the real food revolution kicked in a couple of years ago, I am much more mindful of what exactly I am putting into my body. I chose to cook and make my own food so I have control over the ingredients. If something is processed (granola bars, crackers, cereal, etc.), I choose ones with minimal ingredients. I feel that having the life skill of being able to cook for myself and others is really important. I love the transformation that a few ingredients can become whether it is flour, butter, and sugar for cookies or ground beef, beans, and tomatoes for a chili. It is amazing what heat and spices can do. I am interested in new techniques and love to travel to get inspiration on new foods. I am FAR less picky now (hello, pasta) and the same goes with my husband. I see food as a means that brings people together and my cooking is how I show love for others.
I hope through this blog, I can inspire others to feel the same way about food. I know, it seems so corny. But that is what I want.