Are you an “Eat to live” person or a “Live to eat” person? I am, unabashedly, and unashamedly the latter! I live to eat! I can’t seem to get enough of new foods and flavors, yet I also relish the scents and flavors of my youth… My grandmother’s fresh peach pie from her next-door neighbor, Mrs. McNamie’s peach tree… My mother’s homemade soups and pineapple cream pie… Pop’s veal cutlets and dirty potatoes… The very thought of them evokes a warm feeling of comfort… of meals that weren’t rushed – even when we were in a hurry to get back outside to play… Fresh food, simply or exotically prepared , depending upon their mood – or what happened to be in the pantry that day!

I always boast that I was the second child – my mother used up all her neurosis on my older brother. The very first solid food I ate as an infant was a chili bean – something my mother would never have fed my brother at that age – and I’m sure it is what sparked my interest not only in spicy foods, but food in general. There was more to life than bland old pablum! And it has been my lifelong quest to seek out the different and exotic, while still remaining true to the simple basics.

Growing up in a large family meant meals together every night. And with six kids to feed, my mother didn’t cater to our culinary whims . You don’t want to eat mushrooms? You could pick them out. She prepared ONE meal for the family – and we ate it together. Every night.

Cooking school, restaurants, hotels, health care – I’ve been there. And while I have learned from every position I have ever held, a few things have held true everywhere… The social bonding of food – how it brings people together, erases differences…

The importance of dining together as a family, for example, is finally gaining the attention it deserves!

From the June 6 issue of Time magazine:
The statistics are clear: kids who dine with the folks are healthier, happier and better students, which is why a dying tradition is coming back.

Many people seem to take pride in the fact that they are just too busy to cook a meal, that their children are too busy with extracurricular activities to show up for dinner. And what price are the parents paying by not being around to watch their children grow, or to teach them simple manners? And what price is the rest of society paying?

And the more I learn about food, the more I realize that our parents and grandparents had it easier when it came to eating. They weren’t bombarded with overly-processed junk being packaged as “food.” Things were simpler, for sure. And healthier!

Partially-hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup… They’re not “food” they’re “food products.” Margarine, once touted as the safe alternative to butter is now known to be a trans-fat killer. (Of course, cigarettes were also once touted as being healthy, too…)

I’m becoming more eat local, eat as unprocessed as possible, eat as close to the earth as feasible.

And definitely a proponent of sustainable agriculture. That doesn’t mean buying “organic” simply because it’s labelled organic. “Organic” Pop Tarts are still nutritionally unsound Pop Tarts … Repackaging Fruit Loops with “whole grains” is still Fruit Loops.

Pay attention, read labels, and enjoy!