Brats Blog

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Food

I’d never make it as a food critic.

I love reading about food, eating food, thinking about food and making food. I bake multiple times a week and have to routinely switch where I bring my baked goods to avoid hearing the groans, “Claire – stop! You’ll make me fat!”

This evening I came to the conclusion that I obsess about food and bake so often because I like to have control over something. Whipping egg whites until they are at the exact moment before disaster strikes and they become over-inflated and tasteless does not require a lot. It doesn’t give me a mad scientist feel or cause me to have a God complex. It’s the sexiest of dances.

For almost all people that I know, the fondest of memories involve food. Think back on a pleasant time in your life and chances are it involves a meal of some type. Is it a Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas Eve feast, Easter dinner, or brunch with friends? Food, to be Hallmark greetingcardish, brings people together and is the great connective tissue that binds us all as human beings.

Food is show, food is theatre! At a wedding I attended recently (congrats Adam and Anne Marie!) I had a discussion with another guest who shared a passion for food and acting (one of my other great passions) and we talked about how it isn’t much of a jump from acting into the culinary arts. The creativity and care put into both acting a food is eerily similar.

To say again, food is show, food is theatre! What family do you know that doesn’t show off with their food at Thanksgiving? They bring out their time-tested recipes and the fanciest ones, and welcome you into their home and want you to have their food. To share what they have, to share in their wealth of that day. There is always way too much food and I do not think it is accidental. Those that don’t understand how seductive and beautiful food is have never read Ruth Reichl. Anyone who has read her books dance inside her past and can taste what she tastes.

But while cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce. The thump of the knife against watermelon, and the cool summer scent the fruit releases as it falls open to reveal its deep red heart. The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid. The tug of sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions.”

Read that and tell me food isn’t sexy.

Food is my memory. I use it to remember my family. I can’t eat Perogi without thinking of being covered in flour, standing on a chair so that I could reach the counter top to help my grandmother drop the uncooked Perogi into a pot of boiling water. Watching them until the floated to the surface, their edges sealed by my small hands pressing a fork repeatedly in a slow and deliberate pattern. I’m sure I bit my bottom lip or partially stuck out my tongue in concentration as I worked so hard to show Busha that I could help her.

Thinking Busha draws up ghosts of a thousand meals from the dusty corners of my brain. Chocolate peanut butter candy, Ribs, Perogi, pancakes, pixies, ham salad sandwiches and Mrs. Grass chicken noodle soup.

Jenny is New England clam chowder and rice.

Courtney is egg burritos – which only come by that name because I lacked the ability to turn eggs over completely and they always looked like burritos.

Mom is baked goods.

Dad is sandwiches and tomato rice soup.

Justin is tacos and bananas and pancakes too!

Why is making food sexy? Why is it to me that watching a knife make small work of a bunch of celery has more meaning than sitting in church?

Why is it that I couldn’t be a food critic? I certainly have a passion for food and the will to try everything put in front of me…. I couldn’t do it because it all means so much to me. I have seldom come across food that I would send back. Someone made that just for me! I enjoy eating at Taco Bell (gasp!) Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Portillo’s. I connect with that food and the memories that each of those places gives me. I connect with it as food of the masses! I can’t cast those places aside and eat only at places like Tru. (Although please don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go to Tru.) But I will never make it as a food critic because .. .

I enjoy it all.

5 Comments:

  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger fat little pug said…

    You're such a fantastic writer. This was really great. I also cannot eat season salt without thinking of you, since that's what we seasoned the rice with. We were so nuts. Who eats cannned New England clam chowder and rice? Us, that's who!

     
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  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger Elsa said…

    This was awesome! Now you've made me hungry dammit and all I have is my sad little Lean Cuisine meal for lunch :-( I might have to suck it up and get a burrito instead from Qdoba and leave my frozen meal in the freezer until Monday.

     
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