Mom, where does our food come from?

October 11, 2011 at 7:35 am | Posted in Playing with Food | 2 Comments
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This past weekend I was one of thousands of people who spent the Indian summer Columbus Day weekend driving up to a farm and apple orchard.  I hadn’t been apple picking in years and thought it would be a fun way to enjoy the weather, and I was super excited to cook with fresh apples.

The last time I did any fruit picking was probably like 5 years ago, and that was blueberry picking — a very different experience than apple picking.  Blueberries grow on low bushes, whereas apples grow on trees small and tall.  So the apple picking trip was a lot more work than I remember!  Perhaps because I wasn’t being hoisted up to the branches on my father’s shoulders, no I got to climb trees while my friends yielded a special apple grabbing pole (I found the tree climbing more fun, and actually easier — the pole was like 12 feet long).  I have not climbed a tree in years! And it was so much fun!

I was thrilled to see so many children out at the orchard, too.  I have this fear that children are losing touch with the outside world more and more, that many may not even know where their food comes from.

Of course, this whole idea of losing touch with the way the world works is not limited to children.  Let’s face it.  We are all plugged in most of the time.  I for one spend a huge chunk of my time in New York City, aka asphalt jungle.  Most of my outdoor time is spent commuting and walking the dog.

So for children and adults alike I think it is important to access food outside of a supermarket, restaurant, or a home refrigerator.  It is important to witness a cow being milked a few times in your life, go fishing, and pick fruit off a tree every so often.  If it is good enough for Adam and Eve, or whoever was here first, it should be good enough for us.

Peanut Butter for the First Time

September 27, 2011 at 7:36 am | Posted in Playing with Food | Leave a comment
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My nephew is now 6 months old and beginning to add different foods to his diet.  It’s an interesting practice that I don’t normally think about — being introduced to new foods. And what’s even more interesting is that you can spend your whole life trying new foods, if you want to.

At some point, your parents stop being the ones in charge of what your diet includes, though they may continue to influence the decisions you make.  Not for me, though.  I am much more adventurous than my parents, but they never limited me. Sure I didn’t eat ham until I was maybe a teen, but that was just something my family didn’t eat.  We were a bologna and cheese kind of family.  Rye bread and tuna.  Bagels and cream cheese.

I do, however, have a good friend, whose parents were fresh of the boat Italian, whose eating habits were so closely connected to their culture that she never had peanut butter or jello growing up — SERIOUSLY.  I mean, there are people who don’t like to try new foods, and then there are apparently people who haven’t eaten foods that many Americans would consider pantry staples and lunch box requirements.  No, this girl’s lunch likely consisted of macaroni and maybe some broccoli rabe — hard to believe since she is so skinny, but this is true.

It’s not that I was always adventurous with food.  As you get older, your taste buds mature, and for me, my curiosity just continues to grow.  I have to try everything.  I had to have that fried Twinkie in Denver, and a cooked artichoke in Santa Cruz.  I had to have clam chowder in Boston, lobster in Maine, and crab cakes in Maryland.  I had to have risotto in Italy and churros in Barcelona.  And it doesn’t stop with foods cities are known for.  I have to try all the chains that you can’t find everywhere. I had to have Sonic in North Carolina and Carl’s Jr in San Francisco.

My adventures with food aren’t limited to tourism.  I watch the Food Network religiously — the fiance can attest to that — and am constantly experimenting in the kitchen with different techniques and combinations.

I can’t imagine not exploring food.  There is so much out there!  For my friend who never had peanut butter growing up, I don’t know if she ever has, or ever will, but if she does, I hope I’m there to witness it (and subsequently post it to YouTube).

Dreaming of Junk Food

March 29, 2011 at 7:27 am | Posted in Playing with Food | 8 Comments
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Have you been in a fast food place recently?  Have you eaten a bag of chips lately?  Maybe you have, and maybe you’ve felt the way I do after I give in to one of these rare cravings — completely unfulfilled and regretful.

I remember going to McDonald’s as a kid, and even as a teen.  I’d get a happy meal, and then I’d get the #4 when I was older (the McChicken sandwich meal) and I’d eat it happily.  In my later teens, we’d go to the McDonald’s drive-thru (backwards) at 3 AM after returning from the club, to fight off the munchies.  I never regretted it back then.

I don’t know when it happened exactly, but now every time I eat fast food, I immediately regret it.  I get lured in by the thought that it’s going to be just as tasty as it was when I was young, only to find a dollar cheeseburger sitting like a rock at the pit of my stomach.  Why does it hurt so bad and yet, is so hard to resist?

I rarely indulge or crave fast food. It’s usually when I’m on the road and there are limited options that I actually partake in the fast food eating culture that is America.  I work right next to a Pop-eye’s*, a McDonald’s, a Dominos, and a Whopper Bar (Burger King’s newest venture) and if I eat out I typically choose the falafel place, the potato stand, or somewhere I can get salad or soup (occasionally I’ll spring for something ethnic like Thai food or sushi or empanadas).

But every so often the chicken nuggets call out your name. And every so often you see a bag of Cheetos and you can almost taste the orange goodness on your fingers.  And every so often you crave the innocence of eating things with no nutritional value whatsoever.  Because every so often, you want to be that kid chasing down the ice cream truck again, or  getting a ChocoTaco at the snack bar after playing a round of butts up. Every once in a while, you need to eat like nothing matters, because at that moment nothing does. Nothing but the taste of happiness and promise.  You can worry about the stomach ache later.

*note: as I write this I have gotten word that the Pop-eye’s near by job has been shut down by the Department of Health. If that’s not a warning to you, I don’t know what is!

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