Food has been a pretty big part of my life since I was little. My mother’s side of the family is Italian-American and my grandma on my dad’s side was the epitome of a grandma; she made the best apple pie and mashed potatoes in the world. I’m still convinced of that.
In my younger years I learned everything I didn’t like to eat, from homemade mac and cheese (I would only eat Kraft) to green beans and corn. But in 3rd grade I got my first cookbook. I still have the Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook, the pages for “Lip-Smackin’ Mac and Cheese” the first ones the book falls open to. I made that recipe so many times I had it memorized by the 4th grade (I still have it memorized). For a single serving, it called for a half a cup of noodles, an eighth of a cup of milk and two ounces of Kraft Singles cheese (approximately two slices). Needless to say, my taste has significantly improved over the years.
Every summer in high school (besides my despised first summer as a lifeguard) I worked in a plant nursery where I discoved I loved plants. It was then I decided to become a landscape architect. After a couple years and an intense conversation with a homeless teenager in Seattle, I decided that designing resource-consuming landscapes for rich people was not exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So, back to square one.
It wasn’t until I moved to college that I discovered a passion for food and cooking. I found every way possible to be involved in sustainability on campus and, lo and behold, I found myself working the summer after my freshman year with plants–again. But this time it was different. I wasn’t selling plants for landscapes, I was growing food. My childhood years spent despising vegetables soon had a quick turnaround when I discovered that fresh green beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil were definitely not the same as the canned ones.
In a short amount of time, I have realized a passion of mine. I’ve always had a passion for plants, for culture, for cooking and for helping people. Little did I know that all of them were connected in such an intimate way. I recently watched the Pixar movie Ratatouille for the first time and have watched it three times in the month since. Little Remy the rat puts it the best when saying that we “humans don’t just survive, but we discover and create”. In my experiences, sometimes what humans do and create is not good for us or the planet. However, we do have a way with food. It’s not just fuel, it’s a way of life, a way for us to connect to nature, a way for us to connect with other people, and a way for us to express ourselves. The more I learn about food and everything about it, the more I am fascinated by the process of bringing it from where it is grown to how it gets on my plate.