Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 15: My relationship with food

I was in third grade when I got to help make over 10,000 dolmas for a local Greek orthodox church one Saturday afternoon during the closed hours of a local Greek restaurant (since closed permanently, sadly). I, and the only other two girls under the age of 45 there, helped waitress when we breaked for lunch.

It was magical

I don't know why. I can't tell you what exactly made it so magical to me, but I still look back to that day and think of it as one of the fondest memories of that year. Surprising? Mmm, at first glance perhaps, but when you think about what role food has played in my life, it starts to make more sense. Some of my fondest memories are watching my mother or dad cook growing up. (Granted, mom does/did most of it, I recall my father used to cook.) You see, food isn't just nutrients. It's not just calories and carbs and proteins. What food has gifted me can't be quantified. No, what food has given me is something greater than most any influence in my life. What is that?

Passion.

I don't mean, when I'm cooking I'm happy. No. I love everything about food. I love the spectrum of colors displayed when you walk down a tent filled street at a farmers' market. I love the scent of good tomatoes. (What? You mean to tell me you don't smell the tomatoes when you pick them out a store? I mean, that's assuming you can find good store-bought tomatoes, an inherent falsity. Heh, welcome to being Italian...) I love watching onion become transparent as you sauté it in oil. Or kneading bread, that intoxicating scent that yeast gives as it rises in the warm dough. When you take bare ingredients, oil, vegetables, flour, etc. and make meal of it-- it's like, engineering for the taste buds. 

But the aspect of food I love most isn't that oh-so-pleasing moment of finalizing an art piece of taste bud adventures so delicately placed on a plate steaming with all its glory. Nor is it that moment of watching someone gently place a fork full of your masterpiece in their watering, yearning receptacles... No. It's what food provides for me: a reason to get together. A common ground that all cultures, walks of faith, and personalities can bond over. Even if you don't like making food, chances are you like eating. I know some folks claim that they could just eat a pill to satiate hunger (I'm thinking of you, bro) and be content, and while I personally find that hard to believe, I'm not here to debate that. I believe even those folks though, will not pass up a good meal if offered the chance to enjoy such an palatable experience. What I love most about food is what it's brought together for me: 

family.

In high school we used to have these Italian, family-style, hours-long "family" dinners. I don't think I was blood related to anyone in the room other than my mother but I would consider each person that came just as much a relative in my wedding check-list of "must invite." Looking back at these afternoons, watching my then baby-nephew learn to walk, talk, and sit in his own chair, revisiting World War II with my adopted-grandpa figures who fought in that atrocity, and observing my mother glide across our kitchen grabbing this, stirring that, adding a dash of oregano here, and frantically remembering she had forgotten something in the oven, are all aspects of my life that have shaped who I am today. To you, they may seem small. Minor. Pointless. But to me, they are more than just a memory, they are a part of me. A part of who I am. A driving factor of who I want to be

For that, I am more grateful to food than may make sense to many people. But that's the beauty of being human, we all have our personal quarks and random reasons to get up in the morning. Mine happens to be food.

Well, this post was supposed to discuss the amazing, new adventure I've embarked on at Giancarlo's but I needed to explain my relationship with food before I can make that post and have it make sense. Fear not though, that post is coming soon! I just have to go get ready so I can go do food prep at the restaurant now! :) Ta ta!

Thanks for reading!

Love,
Chacha