A true love of food isn’t born through watching culinary television programs, or cooking with a grandmother during the holidays. It doesn’t stem from enjoying eating, or hosting parties. A true love of food in my eyes is defined as a lifelong relationship with food in numerous capacities. A relationship filled with all of the discovery, strife, forgiveness, and understanding one might find in a committed human affair. All of which are underlined by a deep current of simultaneously inquisitive and euphoric obsession. Without these qualities, one can expect their relationship to food to remain as thin and tasteless as a Sunday morning communion wafer. I describe a superficial connection to food in this particularly blunt fashion because I care about food in such an intimate way. Though my words may imply some sort of exclusionary zealotry regarding food, they are not meant to convey that an interest in food is a bad thing. Rather, I simply want to express the difference between a hobby and a genuine passion.
Growing up as a home-schooled child presented unique challenges and opportunities. Primary among these challenges was a lack of access to the extracurricular activities presented to youth in a public or private education setting. Music, athletics, performing and visual arts always seemed just out of reasonable reach. This is not to say that I didn’t have access to such activities. Rather, they simply required an additional input of effort that seemed just out of the realm of what my perpetually busy parents could viably manage. Instead, I took to activities that could be enjoyed at home. Eating became a source of comfort and pleasure for me. I can distinctly recall eyeing the large wrought iron clock over the mantle of our fireplace while reading tale after tale of prescribed home school curricular literature. Waiting, patiently, for the hour when I would be able to enjoy the simple, blissful experience of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The lunchtime experience was a highlight of my youth, and the first time I can remember identifying a more meaningful connection to food.
Discovery is a sensation that cannot be expressed fully in words. A unique combination of learning, excitement, surprise, and understanding, discovery is the only way I can describe the first sensation I experienced when adulterating my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Adultery is typically associated with a negative connotation, however adultery is precisely what occurred the first time I added salt to my lunchtime friend, the always-reliable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. One look at the twisted face of my mother witnessing my adulteration would have turned even the bravest man into a dread stricken child.
After the initial shock of witnessing such an unexpected modification, my mother’s face quickly reverted to its typical soft and loving state. She quizzically asked why I would add salt to something as traditional as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich....