“Food is life and life is food and that’s the bottom line.”
~María Hernández Feo
A few weeks ago, I was having dinner at a nice restaurant with my family when a couple walked in and sat at the table next to us. This couple looked young, happy, very much in love, and on the verge of sharing a hearty meal. I must confess that I am a person who sticks her nose in other people’s business, so naturally, I was being attentive to their conversation, the way they stared at each other, and most importantly, the food they ordered. Everything seemed to be running smoothly amongst them. They were laughing, the woman was caressing the man’s hand, they gazed romantically into each other’s eyes, and I was glad for them both. The man insisted for his lady friend to order whatever she wanted of the menu and I was relieved because his gesture confirmed that chivalry is not dead! There is nothing I would want more than to one day share a meal with a man who is willing to eat anything. I would think that for men especially, inviting a woman out for food is a way in which he caters to her, and honestly, there is no better venue for a date than a place with a good cuisine. As I eavesdropped on the order this couple was dictating to the waiter, I was shocked and taken aback. The man ordered an appetizer consisting or beef carpaccio, and for his main course, he had a medium rare skirt steak with chimichurri and a side of mashed potatoes while the woman ordered a dull garden salad. It was Friday night, a day universally known as let me cheat on my diet day, and apparently, she was not informed! Once their meals were served, I peered at a great unevenness coming from their table. He had a banquet of stunning meat, sauce, starches, and wine while she had an oversized plate containing a handful of lettuce with two drops of olive oil and half a crouton. The man was disappointed because he wanted to share his food with her, and when he offered to give her some, she rejected his much better than a garden salad food and said “I don’t know how you can eat like that. No wonder you are getting chubby.” Right then and there, I thought to myself, this man needs to dump his girlfriend’s unappetizing, snobby, boring, salad eating ass and find himself a woman who knows how to be a proper foodie.
There is nothing more despicable than people who shame other people for eating. If you think about it, we all eat at least three times a day, so why do others find the need to be critical? I’m a big fan of moderation. Moderation is a rule that applies to every aspect of our life, but is most commonly used in food related subjects. When I was a kid, my parents urged my brother and I to eat sweets moderately, and if we didn’t, they would pull out their health driven diabetes stories. They enforced their limited sweets laws by hiding our Halloween candy and giving us a monitored ration once a week. Back in the day, I used to think this was extremely unfair, but seeing as I am now a twenty-year-old that is not afflicted with a cavity and blood sugar problem, I know they did the right thing. Nevertheless, I am still a food enthusiast with a truck driver’s appetite. I believe it is essential for us to take care of ourselves with good nutrition and exercise, yet I also choose not to limit myself with my eating habits. When people ask me if I am a vegetarian, I say no because, according to my book, vegetables are a side dish, not a lifestyle. I respect people’s choices though, and as long as you are eating what you like happily, that is fine by me. Every now and then I indulge in a wide range of tasty dishes and snacks because, here is the thing: I don’t need to wipe out a dozen eggs to feast on an omelet and, when I enjoy a steak, I don’t need to swallow the whole cow.
One of our primary sources of unity in this world is food. I get so excited when I bond with other people over the creamy and buttery essence of Alfredo pasta, fresh sushi rolls with loads of soy sauce, the timeless exotic flavor of well-prepared seafood, the fragrant smell of cheesy pizza, the toasted thrill of garlic bread, the sweet surrender of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, or even the simple joys of dining at grandma’s house. There is a reason why whenever someone tosses around the topic of food, everybody pitches in because it is the one substance we all have in common. When was the last time you heard about a family function that had no food to nibble on? When did you celebrate the holidays without partaking in a traditional festive menu? When did you invite your friends over to your house without offering them some goodies from your pantry? That’s right, the answer is never because these events wouldn’t be as memorable if it weren’t for food. There is an undeniable force of closeness that comes over people who relish in all kinds of delicious meals, no matter how big or small. Besides, food should also be a motive of gratitude. As I sit here and think about what my favorite food is, I find it very difficult to pick just one. However, if I had to eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be mushroom Risotto. There is something so special about this fine, Italian dish. It’s luscious consistency, the long strings of cheese that melt between each rice grain, the wedges of softened mushrooms that cleanly lay in each forkful. From the first bite, you can feel the ingredients melting as you press them with your tongue against your palate. Describing this divine culinary experience makes me realize how fortunate I am to be able to call this my most beloved meal. There are people out there who are lucky if they get to eat once a day, so think long and hard before you make yourself feel guilty for enjoying the gift of food.
In my house, cooking has always been regarded as a sin. No member of my immediate family knows how to cook with joy. I suppose this has to do with the mess that is involved in preparing food. Anyway, it is a lifelong dream of mine to learn how to cook Food Network style dishes, and lately I have been picking at this interest more and more. If you think eating food is great, reading about it is pretty fantastic too. Leave it to a good book to help you imagine what outstanding food tastes like. I recently read two books that have flamed my appreciation for the cooking world seeing as they have to do with two of the most influential chefs recent generations have ever witnessed. “My life in France” by Julia Child is a beautiful memoir filled with anecdotes extracted from a passionate woman’s journey to culinary greatness. With her sweet, adorable, and hilarious tone, she pulls readers into her stages of self-discovery, speaking about how she managed to find a hobby that transformed her life and revolutionized the art of making food today. Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” is an unapologetic, crude, and exhilarating take on the militant work that goes on behind world class kitchens, coming from a chef that became fascinated with food on family vacations, continuing the path that helped him become the cherished foodie we all know, love, and miss dearly. For anyone looking to dive into some tales of delicious caliber, I definitely recommend these ones below.
After giving this so much thought, I know there are three specific rules on how to be a proper foodie. First, never take any grief from anyone who is shaming you for enjoying food. Breakup with the girlfriend who judges you for eating a full meal while she eats a chunk of grass, leave any man who can’t handle the fortune of having a woman with a good appetite, and most importantly, ignore the people who put a damper on your eating experience just because they refuse to have the same things you eat. Secondly, always treat every meal as if it were your last. Savor and appreciate every bite, pray to any god of your choice, and lick your fingers if you have to. Lastly, remember to give your food some respect and treat it like a blessing, because you will never know how blessed you are for having it until you can’t have it anymore. Food is a gift and foodies are the wrapping, and for those of you that don’t know, food is life and life is food and that’s the bottom line.