Food. I could just leave it at that, the rest of this is just commentary. All you really need to know in life is: FOOD. Cooking it, baking it, sautéing it, covering it in cheese or grilling it over smoky wood. Colors and flavors and family recipes, new creations, experiments, sauces. I don’t even need to put any of that in context, it’s amazing on its own. I think the only thing I like more than food itself is the process of preparing it. Also of arranging and displaying it.
So, here is my sad story: I got sick a year ago and since then I have had a very limited list of things I can eat. At first it broke my heart. Well, no. At first it made me furious and frustrated. Then it broke my heart, because food is like a boy you love and who am I to break up with the best boyfriend I’ve ever had? But there was no choice and so I settled into a whole new understanding of this intricate relationship.
If I didn’t live in a country full of Whole Foods (or in Oregon, home of New Seasons, which is like Whole Foods with bearable prices and more local produce) and a wide enough market with plenty of allergies to cater to, I would have long since thrown in the towel. Luckily, instead of being inhibited, I’ve become much more creative. I never used to bake pies and now I can throw one together in the blink of an eye. The BabyCakes cookbook has redefined my flair for cupcakes and any other dessert. And frosting. Oh my, that frosting! Vegetables, savory dishes, dairy and wheat substitutes have inspired me to combine them in ways I didn’t think of until this intense drive for flavors and new culinary experiences led me to such magical lands.
I’m compiling new recipes to eventually pass down. After my grandmother passed away, I was upset because I missed her matzoh ball soup and she didn’t leave a recipe. For the next big family gathering, I took on the task myself. I Googled a matzoh ball recipe and since our gatherings take place in Hungary, there was no matzoh meal to be bought so I spent half my afternoon grinding it myself with a mortar and pestle. I threw veggies in a pot with water and for lack of anything better, threw in some soup squares. It wouldn’t be my grandmother’s soup but it would still be something.
To my amazement, it turned out to be exactly like hers and while I doubt she pulled any recipes off Google, I now realize that she totally used soup squares! This made me love her even more. More importantly, it made me realize that her recipe had been passed down and given its own flavor by each person using it during their lifetime. Inheriting recipes is a wonderful thing, but what really counts is making it your own. So I keep a book, a journal with many eagerly awaiting pages in which I collect recipes I like. Some are from my mother, some are from the internet and some are just a series of notes about what I’ve figured out works. All of them, however, are very very delicious.