I’m doing my usual late night internet cruising for new recipes, new food ideas. I stumbled upon a herby falafel recipe that I will most likely make, but will probably change up some of the ingredients, keeping the technique intact. My doctor has been heavily suggesting that I adopt a plant based diet. This is an idea I am willing to entertain, but then there is the problem of bacon. I love bacon to much to forever give it up. I mentioned this to my doctor and she then asked me about how much bacon I actually eat. I let her know that it wasn’t a daily or even weekly thing, but I reserve the space to eat bacon when the moment strikes me.
I had a friend who recently had to adopt a plant based diet because her body stopped processing meat in a nice way. I’ll spare you the details, as she has spared me, but needless to say she misses pulled pork a lot. She said to me one day that of course she was loosing weight, because nobody can eat that much broccoli in a day to gain weight. So true. And frankly, who would want to?
I think about food a lot. Not necessarily about eating it, although I do enjoy a good meal or snack, but about how we interact with it, where it comes from, how we treat it, how we are somewhat obsessed with it, how food is a healer, how food is a sustainer, how some of our greatest memories are centered around food, how for some folks their worst memories are about a lack of food, and so much more. The bottom line is I think about food.
I went back to my ground zero and I started to think about my food experiences as a kid. I remember going to the zoo with my grandpa and always wanting one of those pink brick popcorn things. I remember sitting down to dinner at my grandparents house and there would always be sweet pickles of a particular brand and white bread and butter. No meal was complete in my grandpa’s eyes without those. I remember, mostly watching and not helping, my parents turn soil and prepare for a small strawberry patch in our back yard. Then there was a toad in the strawberry patch on night and I basically never went near it again.
I remember watching my grandma dredge chicken for friend chicken. I also remember this particular grandma rolling out her dumpling dough and cutting them into the think noodles before she gently slipped them in the pot of boiling chicken to cook. And I remember this grandma always joking about how she would pick her nose before mixing the potato salad with her hands, adding just that special flavor.
I remember sitting at the same table with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles for holidays and just random family meals. But please don’t let you imagination get to big here, I had a small family. We ate together a lot when I was a kid. But then something changed. Not sure what really changed, but the change was felt at the table because there were fewer meals together. The older I got the more it seemed that those golden memories of family meals faded and there was nothing to replace them. Then one day they stopped.
As an adult, I’m choosing to rebuild those golden memories. Not with my family, so to say, but with folks who I am choosing to be my community. And I am not cramming everyone into my apartment, although about fifteen of us can fit in here with just some mild discomfort. But it is a start.
Anthony Bourdain once said that, “you learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” I believe this and because of this we are changed before we even know it. From taking time to share a meal with a friend to experiencing the food of another culture to traditions that gather us and we sit for a meal together, we are never the same after these experiences. It may not be a deep, soulful change, but I’m convinced that it is a change nonetheless.
After all, I am the person I am today because of those meals we shared together. And I will continue to become a better person because of the meals that I will have with people in the future. I am excited for that because I know we will eat well and be better people because of it.