Sunday, September 30, 2012

My food heritage

I had something else in mind to kick off the 'foodie' section of my blog, but I felt like I couldn't say anything without first explaining my deep-rooted, long-lasting love of food.

First of all, I was blessed to be born into a family of amazing cooks.  They could make dishes that would rival any gourmet restaurant and with only a small fraction of the resources.

Secondly - and probably the reason they could cook so well - I was blessed to be born into a family who put an extremely high value on good food. 

In my family, Jesus and food are the center of everything.  At the heart of celebration and sorrow are delicious meals.  Family time and holidays revolve around the dinner table.  It is how we communicate love and hospitality.  It is how we serve.

It is even -- at least partially -- how we define wealth and a life well lived.  In the clutches of poverty, our priority was to keep delicious food on the table more than acquiring personal transportation, a home phone or cable television service.  You'd often hear "we may be poor but we have what we want to eat" at our house.

And, in a type of "give me good food or give me death" stand, my grandfather refuses to change his diet despite suffering from several illnesses that could be made at least partially better through a change in eating habits.  He says with full conviction, "if I can't eat what I enjoy, then what good is living anyway?"

So it should come as no surprise that I love food.  I love trying new foods and recipes.  I love cooking for myself and others and sharing meals.  To me, a diet is one of the worst types of torture and food purchases are the hardest for me to restrict when budgeting.

Food is so much more than sustenance to live.  It is a celebration when I'm happy, comfort when I'm sad, love to those around me.  It is adventure and tradition and fellowship and self-worth.  Some of my favorite life memories include food: family meals, cooking on weekends with my best friend, cherishing some of the last meals my grandmother prepared, and eating with family and friends now.  Some of my hopes for the future feature food: more time, more resources, more opportunities to cook and eat more and more.

A few years ago, I began a quest for the most delicious food.  It has become vastly more exciting -- and complicated -- than I had first imagined.  I'm hoping this will serve as a chronicle for that journey - a mix of recipes, thoughts and feelings about the food we eat.

Here's to bellies full of goodness!