I’m a bit astonished that I don’t have more posts about food on this blog. It’s truly a thing that nourishes me both physically and spiritually. I get that lots of people are foodies… gawd, just look at the number of food blogs out there these days… but my relationship with food is one that goes well beyond what is on the plate.
We all have childhood connections to food. It’s impossible not to, as food is necessary to stay alive, so at some point in each person’s life is a food memory or fifty. I happen to have more like fifty squillion. I grew up in a household and a family where food was A Thing. A Really Big Thing. This is primarily because of my dad’s side of the family — that is, the Italian-Ukranian side. We have two professional chefs on that side of the family (my dad’s eldest sister and his youngest brother) and at least 11 amateurs-who-cook-like-professionals. I’d like to think I’m in that category some days. Haha. 🙂 Food is something we talk about often, and seriously. Conversations that could have loose titles such as “The Best Coleslaw I Ever Came Across — You Won’t Believe!” have been known to last for hours, nay… days! at my Gran’s house when “the whole gang” is there. The hyperbolic title is intentional; the way my family talks about food you’d think we just discovered it yesterday — we get that excited. It is A Really Big Thing, as I said.
Within the past week, I have had several conversations about food in my place of work, at a hawker stall, and at two delectable restaurants whose fare I’ve sampled as part of Restaurant Week. Tonight’s meal, at IKYU, was delicious, innovative, visually beautiful (I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos!), and attentively served. I often feel energized talking about food, and rarely feel drained by these conversations. I’m curious about the science of food (chemistry, biology, and physics, oh my!), the art of it, and the production of it. I’m also curious about different cuisines, preparation techniques, training, and design. There is no end to the directions conversations can take when food is the topic.
Within the past week, I have had no less than four separate conversations with four different groups of people about mushrooms alone. Two of those conversations grew out of colleagues inquiring about my lunch choice, as they saw and smelled my meal (one of my favourites, a variation on this tasty recipe). One was with a friend of a friend who shares my love for mushrooms. I can’t even remember how we started talking about it, just that the more we talked about it, the more excited I got. The last one was with someone close to me who confessed to not loving mushrooms, but only liking them. I learned something from each of these conversations too — and now have new ideas about using mushrooms in future dishes. I love living in Asia because of all the mushroom options! I often say that when I moved here, I traded in the cheese aisle (something I still fantasize about from my days living in the land of Sainsbury) for the mushroom “island” at the grocery store.
Today’s truth is difficult to pin down succinctly. It’s something about the importance of food appreciation — but not just the singularity of appreciating good food, but also about the importance of sharing that appreciation. I am always looking for something to bring me back to my Gran’s kitchen… whether it’s food to remind me of the food that I grew up with there (pasta, holopchi, baccala, and Mrs. Ehnes’s chocolate cake), or just remind me of the kinds of enthusiastic conversations one can have about food … this is a mission, a passion, and an ethos all in one.