Photo: watermelon, detail, cc moreno0101, thanks!
Observations of a Fifty Something Housewife
My love affair with all things edible has only grown, and for the better. Enjoying food that is good for you has become my mantra.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST MORA HECHT
Food, Glorious Food!
Long before the popularity of The Food Network and celebrity chefs, food has played more than a supporting role in my life. And as daylight lingers into night, filled with fireflies and the smell of barbecues, memories of this season tug at my heartstrings.
A Homegrown Legacy
Growing up, my bedroom window overlooked my father’s carefully tended vegetable garden. When spring gave way to the warm winds of summer, Swiss chard, lettuce, baby corn, tomatoes, green beans, peas, and a veritable cornucopia of salad fixings exploded beneath me; vines of sweet purple grapes covered our old wooden fence. When I arrived home from college, my mother, a newly converted vegetarian, was growing bean sprouts in the pantry and yogurt sat fermenting on the counter. However, there resided enough soda pop, chips and fat laden items stored in the basement we could open up shop. It is no wonder I have a schizophrenic relationship with food.
My mother was a wonderfully adventurous cook and our sometimes contentious relationship melted away in the kitchen. In the summertime we watched reruns of Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, and Julia Child. I poured over stacks of cookbooks, intrigued by vivid pictures from her Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cooking.
Mesmerized, I followed her deft hands as she rolled up kosher egg rolls from scratch. She would toss together vegetables and herbs from the garden, whisking up oil, vinegar and spices; a little of this, a little of that, absolute perfection on a plate!
“Some people eat to live, and others live to eat”
During a recent family vacation I was standing in a CVS, hypnotized by a shelf lined with brightly colored snack boxes. We had just eaten a lavish meal of Maine lobster, mussels, scallops and shrimp; from ship to shore, it doesn’t get much fresher than that!
My daughter found me transfixed. “I really have the potential to be obese,” spilled out of my mouth. I was utterly full, yet I found myself spellbound by graphics of dancing cookies and crackers, which I envisioned leaping into my mouth.
Another Urban Myth
USA Today recently featured the book, Don’t Cross Your Eyes…They’ll Get Stuck That Way, by Authors Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll, two pediatricians. They debunk popular health myths, one I have erroneously perpetuated myself. The idea that bubbles in soda can make your bones brittle, apparently an urban legend. I am not advocating drinking soda, as I have been trying to kick the habit myself. However, I am absolutely astounded by the barrage of information, as changeable as the weather.
Did you know that decaffeinated coffee has formaldehyde in it? Where was I when that memo went out? Apparently, organic decaffeinated coffee does not.
When we were first married my husband was slightly bewildered by my no holds bar style of eating. Walking through city streets I loved nothing more than a bag of hot nuts or a baguette with cheese (I often pretended to be French). I was brought up in a family that cherished food, no matter where we were, and my happiest memories of being together are tied to culinary gastronomy. One Thanksgiving we celebrated the occasion by dining in a Japanese restaurant, all six of us sitting on the floor.
My love affair with all things edible has only grown, and for the better. Although, I will admit the second I finish off breakfast I am contemplating lunch (and I can only blame so much of my appetite on menopause). And it is only by sheer will that I have been able, for the most part, to fend off the pounds.
Enjoying food that is good for you has become my mantra. There is nothing more inviting than a cool slice of watermelon, or biting into a just picked peach, its juice trickling down your chin. The best food doesn’t come in a cardboard box and chickens and cows aren’t born on the farm in shrink wrapped containers.
Gwyneth Paltrow and a Shared History
I recently purchased Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. What intrigues me is her ability to cook in a healthy, yet satisfying manner, all the while honoring her family’s recipes. There is a lot written about her traditions and her longing to heal her father through diet, while he battled cancer. I understand that desire as I sadly went through similar struggles with my parents as well.
I am looking forward to trying the recipes in her book. I have my eye on her “guilt free” cookies, made with barley and spelt flour and brown rice syrup. These are new ingredients for me and I am hoping to meet the challenge.
Gathering the people I love around the table with delicious, healthy food and creating a legacy of recipes to eat and share is more gratifying nourishment than I could ever hope for.
Read Mora all month long, blogging with her pearls on, at Is Anybody Else Hot?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.