My dad’s family moved from Ireland to the US when he was about 12 years old. My Pop-pop was a butcher and I think my Nana ate potatoes every day of her life. In quiet rebellion, my father has been cooking as much Italian food as he could since he was allowed in the kitchen, but he still makes the only corned beef I will ever eat.
My mom grew up on canned fruits and vegetables but had a gnawing feeling that it would be better to have a garden and grow the vegetables to make my baby food. She believed in the “healthy plate” model way before it was trendy and always had a bowl of green beans or snap peas on the counter for my brother and I to snack on. So we were off to a pretty good start as far as Food was concerned.
But Food and I never really got along; we just couldn’t find that “happy place” with each other. In fact, for all my mother’s hard work in the garden, I still vividly remember sharing boxes of pastaroni with my friend Suzanne for dinner in college. That’s certainly not the worst. There were way too many nights where cheetos and a cherry slurpee were dinner and there might be a late night run to 7-11 for a hot dog. I am a little nauseated just thinking about it.
I lived in Manhattan for years and I never even owned any silverware. My father did have the foresight to know that the cooking bug was deep down in me somewhere and bought me a wonderful set of very good knives. But still the only thing in my fridge was a water pitcher and ketchup, and the occasional six-pack of beer.
When I moved to Honolulu in 2005, I was vegan, and pretty much all my meals came from an awesome vegetarian natural market. Something happened when I met my husband, though. I am embarrassed to admit, when we moved in together I had this enormous urge to cook for him. All the time. And since he is a submariner who was living on the naval base, he encouraged all the cooking I could find the creativity to accomplish. He and Food are fantastic friends.
More often than I care to admit I found myself getting up with my Sailor, at what still feels like 4:30 in the morning, making some enormous lunch with my own version of a veggie burger with lots of sprouts and avocado, lots of fabulous local fruit, like lychee and bags of tamari almonds or wasabi veggie chips. Just the other day, three years later, he told me he really wanted one of my veggie burgers. I must have been doing something right, at least with lunch.
Dinners were a whole different, frequently inedible, story.
I find myself living in Seattle now, working on my masters in nutrition, coveting my Japanese santoku. I still crave cheetos, but get a little excited when my weekly veggie box arrives.
And Food and I, sometimes we hold hands along our little journey together, sometimes we are not even close to being on speaking terms. Occasionally I think I could find myself madly in love with Food. Maybe if I had more time and a few people to cook for. Regardless, these posts will give you a glimpse of how Food got into my head and how it is finding its way into my heart…and my belly.