One of my old issues of Bon Appetit (it is an older issue as I have no time to read it anymore it seems) had a section on defining food moments. What, in your lifetime, was your defining food moment or moments? That point where food became more than just sustenance? Where food became intriguing? What helped you define yourself further from being a mere consumer?
Ok, so those last three are my spin on the question since in Bon Appetit it was posed to a bunch of chefs. And I am not a chef – but I think the question is still relevant.
I was always a horribly picky child. Horribly. I rarely tried anything new and I preferred bland food. I ate mild salsa. And I dipped my chip carefully so as to not get any chunks on my chip, then I would shake it so I didn’t get too much salsa. Seriously.
Wow have I come a long way.
I recall a few food defining moments…
The first one that pops to mind was when I started dating a guy in my freshman year of college. He had a bit of hippy to him and had worked in kitchens throughout Northern Colorado. In that nearly two years we dated, he taught me to cook. Really cook, as in not food preparation for mere sustenance. We ate at some fabulous restaurants and cooked great food and used it as an excuse to gather with friends.
When we were first starting to date he took me to El Chapultapec in downtown Denver and we ordered green chili. I was still picky, but despite my fear, I wasn’t going to let it show.
I took one bite of my steaming bowlful of green chili in front of me and I started to cry. It burned. It hit my tastebuds. It paralyzed my taste buds. I gagged. I gulped water. I cried some more.
And then I went back for more.
It was delicious and had flavors I never knew existed.
I am positive I permanently maimed my taste buds that evening. But it was a good thing.
My second food defining moment was when I was new in my job out of grad school. AB and I were invited to go have Thanksgiving dinner with one of my managers. It was one of the first times that we either weren’t traveling to Colorado to be with my family, or weren’t hosting ourselves. We felt a bit out of sorts about eating at someone else’s house for Thanksgiving, but we embraced it.
Dinner was very traditional and good. But everyone was so excited for dessert – pie! I knew I could embrace this. I love pie. Pie is my family’s way of doing dessert. I had eaten pie since I was a child and there is NO other way to finish up Thanksgiving dinner. Pie is what Thanksgiving is all about to me. I could care less about turkey usually. But pie? Yum. So when the manager told me a week in advance that pie was their centerpiece for the meal, I knew this would go over well.
Once there though, my perceptions changed. Then I was a bit horrified.
My hosts pulled out a few boxes out of the freezer and tossed frozen pies into the oven.
They pulled the pies out later and everyone ooh’d and aah’d over the pies.
I tried not to turn up my nose. I took a piece.
Then I went home and vowed to learn to make pie crust. To this point I had accepted that I was not a pie crust maker and relied on eating my mom’s pies. Only occasionally attempting pie myself and dealing with the fact that I had tough ugly crusts.
A year or so later I had mastered pie crust and resolved to never ever ever be forced to eat frozen box pies for Thanksgiving dinner ever again.
My pie crusts may not be pretty, but I can crank the pies out with ease.