Wednesday, December 31, 2008

J'adore Food

I have always been bad at self documentation. I'm not so big on the whole "cherish the moment with a picture!" idea and as many beautiful journals as I have purchased, I rarely get past three entries before I give up. This past summer on my trip to Japan, however, I was determined to document my trip somehow. I decided that the best way to keep my interest was to somehow involve food. With my iphone camera always close at hand, it seemed natural to pull it out and snap a quick picture of every meal I ate. I have very good visual memory and I knew that by simply looking back at a photo of a meal, I would be able to remember where I was and what I was doing just before and after eating it. My Japanese companions thought that it was a little weird that I seemed so fascinated by every piece of food that was put in front of me, but in the end my plan worked and I now have a very good reference log to remind me of all of the amazing things I did in Japan.
I definitely remember a time in my life when food was a chore. I didn't necessarily look forward to meals and I ate more because I was hungry than because I wanted to taste food. I don't want to sound like a terrible, inconsiderate, insulting child, but I think that most of this was due to the food we ate in my house while I was growing up. My parents weren't really the adventurous foody types and much of what we ate were dishes that my mother grew up with. Some of those recipes were hearty Italian peasant dishes which were passed down from my maternal grandmother (and my mother's maternal grandmother) and the rest was white people food. Bland, boring, white people food. I love my grandpa but that man has the capacity for one simple taste. Ketchup. He won't put anything in his mouth that isn't slathered in the stuff. So my mother grew up eating my grandfathers favorite ketchup accessorizable food which was mostly pork chops, ground beef, potatoes, and canned corn kernals. All of which was slathered in shiny red corn syrupy tomato goo. When my mothered got married and started cooking all the meals, she pulled on her mental arsenal of recipes. Rice pudding, pasta, ghetta (the Italian things) meat, potatoes and sloppy joe's (grandpa's favs!.) My father cooked dinner one night a week. That night we either had frozen fish sticks (with ketchup!) or scrambled eggs and toast (with...yes....KETCHUP!)
I love my parents and I truly think they did a wonderful job raising my brother and I, but I really am sad about all those years of my life that I wasted not enjoying herbs, spices, and non preservative, fresh, delicious food.
When I became a vegetarian, I finally realized that not only could food taste fantastic, it could make you feel really good. Physically and emotionally joyous. In the past few years I have become a mini food freak. I now have the ability to shop for myself, where I choose, and buy what I want, and I get to prepare meals that make me happy. I can't imagine my life without food now. Luckily, my friends like food too and we pass much of our time planning, buying, preparing, and consuming food for every and any reason. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I don't plan on taking a picture of everything that I eat while I am here in Paris but food is how I am adjusting to my new life. My first outings were to boulangeries (bread stores,) markets, grocery stores, and China town to pick up some special Japanese ingredients. I have been trying to experience as much French food as possible (though it's difficult for les vegetariens) and prepare a homecooked meal with my French ingredients for dinner every night. I feel like this blog will have to become rather food based if my Japanese experiment proved true an I am looking forward to cataloging the difference between the food of France and home. I know there are many professionals who say that Paris is the food capital of the world, but The San Francisco Bay Area is pretty hard to beat.

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