Food has played a large role in my life, not just because I need it to survive, but because it excites me.
Two of my passions have always been preparing and eating food. I grew up in a household with a mother who always provided good home cooked meals. My family would sit around the table each night and enjoy what she prepared. Though, I admit my full enjoyment didn't come until around middle school. I use to be a pretty picky eater. Now I find myself sad when a meal has ended.
In my opinion, a meal should last at least an hour. Some people find eating to be a nuisance and quickly shovel in their food, but not me! I love to savor it all. If you ask my family and friends, they will tell you that I'm the slowest eater they know. I'm always the last one eating, leaving everyone to not so patiently await my finish. A large part of this is due to the fact that I take care to make every bite perfect. I try to mix the foods on my plate in such a way that they create a wonderful combination of flavor. I also have the tendency to pick out bites that I deem unsatisfactory and leave them on the side of my dish. This may be a little bit of my picky childhood coming back, and I think a bit of OCD may be thrown in, but those are my ways.
To me, the culinary art is exactly what it states, an art. People spend hours in museums admiring art, why not spend a couple of hours in a restaurant enjoying edible art? It sounds crazy, but thankfully I'm not alone on this notion. Many high end restaurants do in fact make this idea possible by offering multi-course meals, sometimes including ten or more dishes. The courses are each small enough so that you don't instantly become full, and you can enjoy and critique each plate. I would love to experience this type of dining. It's on my bucket list.
Most would consider it total laziness to sit for hours and eat, but I find it to be the opposite. It makes for an elegant outing. Now if you turn it into potato chips on the couch, that's a different story.
Another aspect of food that I enjoy is the variety. Variety is very important to me. My husband is fully content with a big piece of meat for dinner and that's it. I'm sorry, but that doesn't reach my standards of a meal. Now if the meat is served with a nice sauce and layed on a bed of rice with a vegetable garnish, I can handle that. I need sides! There are so many options of foods, why choose just one for your meal? There's no need to limit ourselves.
I also appreciate that food brings comfort. There's nothing quite like a big bowl of hot soup on a cold day or an ice cream cone in the summer. Food completes an experience.
We use food as a center for gathering too. Countless memories are made with family around the dining room table and food helps complete those special moments. I think that a room becomes warmer and more exciting when food is brought in. You can't have a get together without snacks or a meal.
I love to prepare food as well, though I admit I don't get quite as excited as I do when I'm served at a restaurant. Other peoples food tastes better to me. But, when it comes to cooking I have noticed that I become unsure of myself. I rarely stray from a recipe and one area that I know I especially need help with is seasoning. I tend to be reserved in my flavoring techniques. I want a robust flavor, but I worry that if I go too far the meal will be ruined. I slowly add a little salt at a time, knowing that once too much has been added there's no going back. The same goes for other seasonings. I think that I will have definitely overdone it, but in the end my food still turns out bland. I need to force myself to go wild with flavor.
I may sound wacky with all of these thoughts revolving around food, and I admit it may be a slight obsession, but I can't help but love all aspects of the culinary art.
With multiple cooking channels, hundreds of magazines, food talk shows, restaurant/bakery reality series and more competitions than I can count, I think America must be on the same page as me.