And other confessions from a local food pantry.
I can’t eat beef stew because I barfed into a whole plate of it as a four year-old student of the YMCA day care center in 1977. I probably threw it all up in one big nasty lump onto the plastic blue plate because I have Celiac Disease and beef stew is usually laden with flour as a thickener. But no one knew that back then.
After my incident with the beef stew, my nursery school teacher told my mother I had a “nervous stomach” which gave my mother license to tell me that everything I put in my mouth would cause me to have a horrible stomach ache.
“Don’t eat that, you’ll get a sore stomach!” she’d say as swiftly as she would swat my hand away from my face.
How I grew into a foodie with a mother telling me everything made me sick and an undiagnosed allergy to things I loved until I was 29 (think: handmade pasta or warm crusty bread smothered in Nutella), I don’t know.
The thing about Foodies I’ve come to appreciate is that we aren’t food snobs.
I work daily as a local economy consultant, building a local food system that grows local businesses and access to local food for all. It makes me uncomfortable that people believe it is an elite thing to be a Foodie, reserved only for those who can afford high quality food. I believe high quality food is a right for all humans and therefore every eater is a foodie.
Just as foodie should not equal snobbery, we should also not quickly be accused of judging. We know what we like and we know what’s good for us, but we also don’t judge others for their choices. Most of the Foodies I know are inclusive. Ask any farmer how she prepares a simple vegetable and she will tell you her simplest, most delicious family recipe. I once asked a chef what he eats at home and I got this answer, “a mashed potato grilled cheese sandwich, for a real carb-fest.”
I think a real foodie is someone who enjoys food and the community it creates. I know people who don’t even think about what they eat; they just think it’s a function of their day. I’m Italian—I think about food 300 times a day. It’s in my DNA. But I have secrets, too.
My top foodie secrets revealed:
1. Fine dining makes me uncomfortable. The places where they place your napkin in your lap? It’s been years since I’ve eaten at one of these places. Guess I’m more of a pub girl.
2. I think I might like to be a vegetarian and try it for a few weeks then crave a cheeseburger so ravenously that I forget I’m trying to be vegetarian.
3. I have to eat gluten free. It’s not a choice or a fad diet. I have Celiac Disease and gluten makes me very ill and yes, I will blow up like a Macy’s Day parade balloon. No one wants this.
4. I like kale well enough. I don’t love it so much that I have to make 129 different versions of a kale salad.
5. My best friend thanks me for not judging her for feeding her kids tater tots and hot dogs. Who am I to judge when on a hot day, I will sit in line at the Sonic for a red slushy drink?
6. My other best friend hates me for introducing her to caramel sea salt ice cream. She yells at me for her own addiction now.
7. M&Ms are my airport travel weakness.
8. I was raised on homegrown—homemade—home-cooked everything but all I ate for years as a kid was iceberg lettuce with salt (no dressing), Granny Smith apples, pasta sauce from a jar, tuna out of a can, and meat from a package. I wanted everything we didn’t grow. Everything my neighbor friends ate that came from a can, a package and the frozen food aisle. I hated to see the cows before butchering or milking and I preferred to play hide and seek in my grandmother’s enormous garden instead of picking peas for dinner. I also ate weird things that today are probably served at fine dining spots: tripe, rabbit, smelts, radicchio and, Nutella sandwiches on crusty Italian rolls.
9. I don’t like lamb or pork. I don’t care how local it is. So lay off.
10. I hate raisins in anything except gorp. They remind me of college hippie potluck dishes where someone dumped the contents of their pantry into a bowl and called it salad. I’m not judging, I’m stating a fact. I have witnessed this act of potluck treason. Also, I don’t like potlucks. See Celiac above. I can eat nothing but my own dish and the salsa and salad. This is not fun for me.
11. I typically cook one-bowl meals with either rice, (gluten-free) pasta or greens as a delivery mechanism.
12. I don’t drink coffee. I quit after I turned in my grad thesis in 1996. I am a tea-drinker and I only use organic turbinado or raw cane sugar. White sugar packets in weak conference room tea make me cry. If my tea tastes like coffee because of those tepid decanters from conference catering, I will cry. I carry my own tea, snacks, nuts and fruit so that I won’t cry in public from lack of energy.
13. The last time I ate at McDonald’s was in 2003 in Cooma, Australia. I also chose to go off my gluten-free diet while in Australia so I could eat the fresh-caught breaded and deep-fried barramundi and crocodile in a campervan park in Darwin, and drink the VB and XXX beers. It was worth it.
14. I performed guerilla street theatre in protest of Monsanto back in the ‘90s when they first crossed a fish with a tomato. We thought it was so ridiculous we could only imagine the satire potential. Little did we know back then how far they would really go.
15. My really dirty secret? I have a weakness for chicken wings despite refusing them as a child because they made my fingers dirty.
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Editorial Assistant: Brandie Smith / Editor: Catherine Monkman