"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Eater's Manifesto

A gave me several cookbooks for Christmas and I have been reading slowly through them, note-taking my way through a book on breastfeeding nutrition and also another on feeding children in a health manner. Yesterday I picked up a copy of Bon Appetit at the check-out. One of the things that was hardest for me about my week of spring cleaning was that I took a total vacation from the kitchen and we ate all prepared foods, by the end I was fantasizing about the myriads of things I could bake and serve when I was finished. Food matters. I know its important to everyone on some level but, clearly we're really into it at our house.
You might even call A and I foodies and get away with it. I like food, he likes food, we like exploring food and eating food and cooking food and growing food and buying food. We'll eat pretty much anything once. Still, I have a hard time with the label foodie because it gets all confused with "gourmet" (a label I once was trying on for size but have now let go). I'm no food elitist...I think homemade chicken noodle soup is every bit as wonderful as filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce. Good food is good food from the most simple, hearth cooking and the dirt-covered, homegrown carrot to the most elegant, architectural dessert plating. I don't eschew fancy food, everybody likes a treat now and then but, its not on any kind of pedestal in my world and I am not trying to pretend to be a chef in my home. I'm a housewife and a home cook and for the most part, I cook homey stuff. Simple stuff, the stuff of life. Pasta. Steak. Slow cooker soup. Homemade bread. So, only call me a foodie if you mean food lover not if you mean snooty-Francophile-chef-imitator. And please, never be afraid to serve me mac and cheese in a box or a grilled cheese on white bread, I promise, I'm not too good for your kitchen.
One of the other pieces of my food world that could get me confused with a gourmet and make people think I'm a food snob is health-foodism. I am an admittedly crunchy person. I believe in pro-biotic foods, I like to maximize my local food intake, we eat a lot of produce at our house, I try to serve fish frequently, I think honey is good and white sugar is bad, I like to buy my eggs right from the farmer, I buy grass-fed beef and free-range poultry, I drink raw milk....etc. etc. This isn't because I'm too good for such-and-such a "normal" food, its just because I care a lot about health and from my reading on nutrition these look like vastly superior choices. I realize not everyone can afford to buy these things and would never prescribe the preceding list as some kind of moral imperative. BUT....its not food snobbery either. I'm not trying to make the most elegant, expensive choices possible, I just want to serve and eat good food. Not fancy, good. They're different.
Even though I'm not obsessive gourmet type, I do find famous chefs inspiring. They are after all, some of our country's most expert food workers...they know what they're doing and occasionally, one of them changes some piece of the way I operate in the kitchen forever. Julia Child completely revolutionized my method of cooking scrambled eggs, for instance.
So, given their position of great influence, I am always excited when I hear that chefs are taking their captive audiences in hand and using their platform to teach people better ways with food. Better, not fancier. I was really excited to see Alton Brown one of the big Food Network stars lose the classic chubby chef look and pursue a new life in relationship to food. I think his perspective and dietary ideas are right on. Check out the video below and tell me what you think.



  1. We have so much in common when it comes to food, although I am not always very good about putting it into practice for myself. (I nodded my head a bit too knowingly yesterday when you talked about binge-eating terrible foods.) And I just loved that episode of Alton Brown's show; it was very motivating for me to get back on the weight loss horse.

  2. Very interesting... I have similar quirks and philosophies. I have been eating prepared food lately which is so abnormal for me. I hate it. And yet given other overloads in my life right now it's been a big relief.

    I also agree with your non-elitism. I love good food. But sometimes a simple grilled cheese sandwich is darned good food!

  3. I love reading your posts...everything you say is like my very own thoughts put to words.

  4. Angela, how wonderful! I'm glad I'm hitting good chords! Thanks so much for telling me.

    vmichelle, I also agree completely that food should not be stressful. I usually make sourdough bread weekly and my own yogurt but I had a bit break over the holidays and am just now getting back in the swing. You have to do what keeps life sane.

    Julia, you are one of those people I really kick myself for holding back from when we actually lived in the same place. We would have been really good friends if I'd tried I think. Great to know more common ground. I am a t.v. lacking person so I don't get to actually see these shows...I just read about them on the Internet. Hee hee.