Writing about what feeds me.
Tough Question, Long Answer:
I had my 3rd official day on the job today. I’m working for Andro’s Rostilj, a food-conscious (and people-conscious) company that specializes in catering corporate lunches for some top companies and venture capitalist firms in the Bay area. When I met the main contact for the client today, she asked me a question I’ve gotten often lately:
“What kind of food do you like to cook?”
Or, sometimes it’s, “What is your specialty?”
This always seems to take me a second to answer. It’s kind of in the ballpark of questions like “What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?” or “What kind of music do you like?” (any Jason Mraz fans detect this arcane reference?). To me, there is no particular cuisine or type of food that I enjoy cooking more than others. I did my best to answer the client anyways and responded that I like braises and slow-cooked foods. I said I also enjoy easy stir-fries and generally “MacGuyver-ing” anything that is available.
While this is true, I’ve also really enjoyed grilling and making my own meatballs and pasta sauce. I get a kick out of making soups and non-traditional salads. I also will jump on the opportunity to bake anything with lavender in it or fresh pineapple… or rum.
Not “What,” but “Why”:
Basically, I am down to cook anything that will improve my relationship with food. This means how I understand food. What it means to me. How it can sustain me. How it can improve my life. How easily I can make use of it and in how many different and interesting ways. Also, how translatable is what I cook to the person eating it? – this includes myself and any friends or guests that I am cooking for. Will it be inviting and something that will interest the person in eating it again or possibly even recreating it him/herself?
If food seems too obscure/fancy/difficult/or out-of-the-ordinary, people will think they have no business trying to make it. As a result, they will leave it to others to do it for them. What I am talking about isn’t a matter of just convenience or laziness. I am talking about simply having the knowledge and therefore, the power of choice in the matter. The “problem” comes in, I’ve noticed, when the desire to eat well (read: tastes and maybe even, looks good) or perhaps, in a health-conscious way, is thwarted by a complete lack of knowledge or a plethora of misinformation about what is REAL food. I don’t claim to know everything. In fact, every day yields a new discovery about food and, consequently, about myself.
I am not looking to reinvent the wheel. Or rock the culinary world. I just want to demystify food – for others AND myself included. There was definitely once upon a not-so-distant time that I thought the things I am making now were completely foreign or even impossible to me. And I’m no fancy chef either. I’m just an average person that enjoys cooking and entertaining. I think our collective perception of food these days is one in which we are growing more and more distant from the ingredients and the (simple) processes of turning those ingredients into tasty, nourishing meals, regardless of them being “fancy” or not.
At the end of the day, if I ever want to cook or eat anything, I want to be able to say with ease, “I could probably make that.”
And I want the same for everyone else, too.