In making the decision to (try to) build a career in writing, I decided to use this blog as a portfolio. Particularly until I have some clips to show prospective employers. I concluded that I needed to focus my writing on a particular topic. I thought long and hard about what this focus should be.
You see, I love books. I could write a bit about books. But to make a career based around reading would, for me, take away one of the reasons I read in the first place. Plus, my reading life is so all over the map that it would be impossible for me to write about books with any regularity. I hope around too much. I read a lot of books in fits and starts–100 pages of Title A here, 90 pages of Title B, 150 pages of Title C, set them aside for a few days, a few months. I might pick them back up and finish or read another 100 pages and set them aside again. Then boom! I finish Titles A, B, and C, plus others in progress in the span of a week and a half. Sometimes I can pick up a book and it captures me and I read cover to cover in a day or two. What I’m getting at is that my reading, though constant, is erratic.
After much deliberation, I choose food–my other great passion–to be the focus of my writing.
I love food. I love the selecting of ingredients. I love piecing ingredients and dishes together to create a meal. I love the act of measuring, mixing, assembling, and seasoning. I love tasting and noticing the textures and the interplay between the flavors. I love sharing food I’ve cooked (at least with those who appreciate my efforts; I don’t tend to cook for the unappreciative). I love spending time over a meal with a drink or two or more and great conversation. I even love a meal for one.
For me, food is a multi-sensory experience. The sight, the smell, the taste, the feel. Hopefully, no sound, unless we’re talking about the sizzle of oils and fats or conversation. Goodness knows I’m plenty guilty of mindlessly shoveling food in my face without much thought. But I’m working on being more mindful and present in my life.
Food is a cultural experience. Every group has its own mix of ingredients and spices and methods of preparation based on what is available to them. Now we have the ability to bring in flavors from all around the world, going on mini-field trips to distant lands.
Food is steeped in history and tradition, both writ large and on a familial level. Most families have their traditions of what they make and how they make it, especially during the holidays. Sometimes there’s a story, sometimes not. I’m always reminded of the one about the woman who was getting ready to make Easter lunch and wanted to follow her family’s ham recipe. She asked her mom why the recipe said to cut the ends off the ham before putting it in the baking dish. The mom didn’t know and told her to ask her grandmother. The grandmother didn’t know either and told her to ask her great-grandmother. The great-grandmother said she cut the ends off so the ham would fit in her pan. Tradition.
Food is an opportunity to experiment with different flavors and ingredients, either by choice, by what looks good in the store, or by what’s on hand. I love that I’m beginning to be able to walk into my kitchen, survey the cabinets and refrigerator, and assemble something that tastes pretty damn good. I don’t knock it out of the park every time, but I do more often than not.
I view food as a piece of the larger topic of wellness. If I eat better, I make better decisions, like doing yoga or drinking more water, which in turn leads me to eat even better. It’s a really good cycle.
Food transcends nourishment. Food writing is also tied to politics, economics, gender politics, travel, humor, literature, art, science, and other disciplines. In focusing my writing, I feel like I am actually broadening my horizons.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on food and wellness, which has led me to be more conscious of the ingredients I buy, the brands I buy, the cooking tools I use, and the places I shop. It’s been a whole personal evolution and revolution, and I am excited to continue down that path. I hope you will stick with me as I explore the various facets of food and wellness writing.