Why write about food?
Some people look up to superheroes. I look up to great food writers. Their costumes tend to be a bit more understated, but food writers guard one of the most powerful forces in the Universe.
Food has an amazing capacity to bring people together. During college orientation, I realized that for the first time since preschool I knew no one. I instinctively retreated to my dorm’s kitchen to indulge in a therapeutic baking marathon. The irresistible smells of warm cookies, fresh brownies, and decadent cakes brought the entire population of Freeman Hall to meet me. In fairness, I relied more on the mysterious power that chocolate wields over women than on the power of food in general to unite people, but I was pleased with the result nonetheless.
Of course, food is not only a means to connect people but also a unique manifestation of individual cultures. During my junior year in France, I made a conscious choice to try everything I was served (well, everything but boudin—blood sausage struck me as a perfectly reasonable exception). The result was a gastronomic renaissance. When I left the U.S., I really only liked Brie. A few months later, I was part of an intrepid gang of Americans who were scolded—by a Frenchwoman, no less—for eating cheese that was “too stinky for the train.” (Apparently, it is impolite to eat unpasteurized cheese in public. Who knew?) As I tried to explain the contents of a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and the broader concept of “processed cheese” to my fromage-ophile host father, I realized that America’s relationship with food is dysfunctional. Behold the power of cheese.
Americans love and need food, but we do not trust it. This is not entirely irrational on our part, because our foods are highly processed. We literally do not know where they have been. Americans are increasingly interested in discussing this issue and working to make our food more edible.
I want to be a food writer to extol the virtues of the wonderful food that does exist in this country and elsewhere. Beyond that, though, I would work as a therapist of sorts to mediate this troubled marriage between the sustenance and the wary sustained. I hope to explore the joyous connections between people and good food to make wholesome food approachable for all, and I have already started to work toward that end. I maintain this gastronomic blog as part of the lifelong process of honing my writing. Imagine my glee when I realized that my continuing educational needs justified a subscription to Bon Appétit! In addition to reading every page of good food writing I can find, I am taking cooking classes to supplement and balance twenty-odd years of recipe collecting and culinary experimentation.
This path will allow me to meld my myriad passions and make me happy. If I get to wear a cape and a mask, so much the better. Hi ho, Gouda, away!
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