The following post is from a friend, Lindsey Wight. Her blog, Dear Wilderness, is an exploration of beauty, wellness, and balance. I love Lindsey’s ability to capture a sense of stillness through her writing. I hope you have a wonderful and Merry Christmas. Enjoy her blog takeover this week, and follow her at her own blog: Dear Wilderness.
Growing up in the Midwest, food was never something I gave much thought to. While there were some moms who were considered home cooks, all the ones I knew, including my own, were much more inclined to find something quick from a jar or a box to feed their kids. I remember lots of macaroni and cheese (the violent orange kind), Oscar Meyer hotdogs, packaged lunch meats, and canned soup. It was rare when we would have something cooked from scratch- that was usually saved for holidays or very special occasions, and deemed “too fancy” for every day.
I’m not quite sure how I first came to my love of food and cooking. I think it might have been right after college, when I was truly living on my own with no cafeteria to fall back on. I was now responsible for making all of my own food- I certainly didn’t have the money to eat out all the time. I remember picking up an issue of Bon Appétit and being amazed at the enormous variety of foods that were presented. They used fresh herbs almost exclusively. They talked about “trussing.” There was homemade stock, gourmet sandwiches, gorgeous holiday cookies,and flavorful soups filled with vegetables I didn’t know people actually ate, much less enjoyed. I was fascinated by it all. I wondered why I had never heard of any of these things.
At first, I was too intimidated by it all to cook much more than a soup on my own. I wanted to taste it all first. I began trying unique restaurants and choosing things I’d never had before. I tried vegetables and liked them. I began experimenting with condiments, and salads that didn’t contain iceberg lettuce and grated cheddar. I didn’t know that there was so much flavor! I began to spend time in the cookbook section of bookstores, poring over the beautiful pages, imagining what the recipes would taste like, wanting to see if I could make that for myself. I was completely hooked on food.
By the time I moved to LA, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what kinds of things were out there. But this vibrant city kept me on my toes- it introduced me to spicy Thai and Indian curries, to real Mexican street tacos, to Vietnamese pho, to sushi. I felt like I was being introduced to the world, like I had been missing out on life for my first twenty years. I devoured it all.
At this same time, I was becoming very close with who is now my very best friend. This girl was a vegan, and it was something I could not comprehend. The idea of no meat I could wrap my head around- I had seen enough documentaries about the “farms” these animals came from. But no dairy? No cheese?? It just felt so sad. But she patiently introduced me to a new way of thinking about food- yes, it’s about flavor, but ultimately food is about health. What we put in our bodies will manifest itself later in some capacity, and eating in order to keep the amazing machine of your body running well is extremely important.
Food has transformed its role in my life from something that just was, to something I love. It touches so many aspects of our lives, from our health, to our families, our traditions, and our pleasure. It’s more than just fuel, it’s the most basic component of survival. It is so important, and I can’t believe it took me so long to really see and understand just how much attention and care I should be giving to it.