I’m going to make a few, quick assumptions about you:
1.) You love food.
2.) You either love preparing it or you enjoy the company of others who will prepare it for you.
3.) You probably spend a decent amount of time thinking about food and/or food politics.
Am I right? Chances are you wouldn’t even be reading this if at least one of those didn’t describe you. I can tell you, all three apply to me.
Considering I was raised by an Italian mother, I’m almost certain it’s in my DNA to give considerable thought to food and eating. Whenever I would have guests come to our house, one of the first questions my mom would ask was, “Can I get you something to eat?” This is the same woman who on a random weeknight would whip up an entire Texas sheetcake for our family of four just because she felt like it. Family get-togethers were always based around a meal (which is normal); however, my mom and/or my uncle would have to take photos of the spread before we were allowed to dig in.
To this day, even though miles separate us, we will always talk about food. She mails me recipes, we talk about recent things we’ve made, we discuss great restaurants, etc. It is not uncommon for us to give each other cookbooks as gifts. Whenever I flip through one of our Julia Child’s cookbooks, I think back to how some of my earliest memories are of me playing in the living room while my mom watched The French Chef.
I think many people have similar fond memories that revolve around the getting together of family or friends around a meal. Even if you didn’t grow up with those memories, perhaps you are cultivating them for yourself as an adult. After all, food is at the heart of every culture. Food is the great unifier.
I should also tell you that I hope to have my own small farm someday. Growing up in big cities I would’ve never imagined I would want farming as a vocation. I can safely say that my desire to do it is based largely on my passion for food. To me, it feels like the next logical step in this journey.
So imagine my surprise when I recently finished reading Kristin Kimball’s incredibly beautiful memoir, The Dirty Life, and read these words:
“And this is the place where I’m supposed to tell you what I’ve learned. Here’s the best I can do: a bowl of beans, rest for tired bones. These things are reasonable roots for a life, not just its window dressing. They have comforted our species for all time, and for happiness’ sake , they should not slip beneath our notice. Cook things, eat them with other people. If you can tire your own bones while growing the beans, so much the better for you.”
I. Was. Floored.
I felt like she was saying everything I felt, but articulating it so much better than I ever could. I got teary-eyed reading it. I got teary-eyed again just typing it. It speaks to my past, present, and future. It gives me that same good feeling that Christina tried to get across in her post about building a community with our food swaps.
In a time when so much seems uncertain, when even the future of food and food distribution as we know it seem uncertain, cooking, eating, talking about, and sharing food seem safe and comforting. It’s why people will pay good money to see people like Joel Salatin or Michael Pollan speak. Or why some drive over an hour just to come to a food swap. It’s why we bring food to new moms and grieving families. Food, and the business of food, is meant to be shared.
I feel like it’s my duty to not let the importance of food slip beneath my notice. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of a big community that feels the same. It adds a lot of peace and happiness to my life. I’m also lucky to have several “food-centered” communities in my life.
Our Fancy Food Club allows us to try our hand with cooking we normally wouldn’t do each day, and to try dishes we may never think of. It’s the enjoyment of sitting down with good friends to enjoy our meals and great conversation.
My work for Kilpatrick Family Farm is technically helping customers and CSA members select healthy vegetables at market each week. However, if you ask me, Christina, or Jillian, we will all tell you it’s something much deeper than that. It’s friendly face after friendly face telling you what they’ve been up to and sharing great recipe ideas as well. That’s what keeps me smiling when I’m standing outside soaking wet in the middle of a lightning storm at market (which has happened more than once this summer).
It’s also why I feel privileged to be a member of this blog. Yes, great recipes are shared here, but there are also great stories behind those recipes. There are recipes that make a busy night less stressful, and those that remind us of the best times in our lives. There’s also the broader discussion about food in general, which I feel is absolutely critical. Anyone can just post recipe after recipe, but I deeply enjoy reading all the other authors’ posts because in each one you can sense how important food is to them and their families.
So, I’m curious: what are the ways in your life that you honor and share food?