So my boyfriend says I am obsessed with food. I recently put together a travel photo album from our trip to Vietnam and I would say 30% of the photos are of food. And I just returned from a trip to visit old friends and realized I did not have any photos of my friend’s husband, who I adore by the way, but I did have a picture of the amazing pulled pork he made. Is that a problem? Is it an unhealthy obsession?
One of my earliest memories is of standing by the comal (griddle) as my Nana made homemade tortillas de harina (flour tortillas). My cousins and I would line up taking each tortilla hot off the grill smothering it in butter. Until my Nana sent us all out of the kitchen because we were eating as fast as she was cooking.
I even remember the feel of the steam releasing from the Salisbury steak TV dinner that my mother cooked in the oven, as this was in the 70s before microwaves. I can taste the salty, gravy goodness of the steak and the oh so sweet, and usually too hot cobbler, waiting in the corner for dessert.
Now I am in my element with the advent of food photos on Instagram. Food is an important element of culture, and experiencing regional dishes while traveling is a must. I backpacked through Europe in my 20s when I was a vegetarian. But I still ate the sausage prepared by the twin ladies who ran the hostel where I stayed in Prague. And later, in Chicago, I left vegetarianism for good due to a friend who continually took me to this local German restaurant that was like stepping into Heidelberg. I would sit there with my potato pancakes salivating until finally I at the fucking sausage! Just what the doctor ordered on a freezing Chicago day.
The latest diet fad is fasting, yes fasting. My boyfriend announced he will now not be eating until 4 pm each day. What the fuck? What if this trend takes off? Will we become a society of ultra-healthy, emaciated abstainers? Who will pass on the food traditions of our elders. Who by the way lived and are living longer then we are living; and when I say we I mean people of the 50 year old set like myself who grew up on TV dinners and coca cola. It’s not the food that is harming us it is the chemicals in the food and the amount of food we are cramming in our mouths while driving and walking. Mindless crap eating.
I didn’t see any fat people in Vietnam yet they seemed to be always eating. Eating some bowl of steaming goodness filled with pieces of fresh meat and greens. You know what they were doing while they were eating? Sitting their asses down on a little stool, stoop or chair. And talking to each other.
My friend John barbequed a beautiful piece of pork to perfection while I was visiting he and my dear friend Janet Lee in Alabama. It was like a love song welcoming me back after so many years of not seeing he and Janet Lee. Janet Lee made fresh okra from her garden. We sat, ate, drank wine and caught up on where our lives had taken us over the past twelve years. What if we were all fucking fasting? Or abstaining. I’m sorry the experience would not have been as rich catching up over a salad and some water. Food is life. It is a gift we give to ourselves and each other.
We have this food in Tucson, where I live, called a Sonoran dog. It is a hotdog, wrapped in bacon, covered in beans, pico de gallo and various sauces depending on who is making it. It is best eaten outside under the shelter of a canopy with a Mexican coke or cerveza. It is where I come from.
So I say yes to eating, yes to food photos and yes to sharing a good meal with people you love. Eat the regional foods where you are traveling. Learn why they seem to eat cabbage at every meal or rice is the basis of each dish. Then you learn about the people.