Playing with Your Food

Playing with Your Food

I was noodling around (okay, wasting time this morning) over on the fabulous new website, Serious Eats, when I found this sweet little piece over on The Ethicurean about farmer’s markets and the way having a good one can encourage you to eat foods you might have thought you didn’t like. It reminded me of when Patrick and I first moved in together in California — I discovered beets. I went a little mad for beets for a while — there were such gorgeous ones in the farmers markets. I too was one of those people who thought I hated beets — I’d only ever had the canned ones which were terrible — slimy and metallic and weirdly sweet — but in the farmers’ market I discovered fresh beets. Once I learned how easy it was to roast them and slip them out of their skins, well, we ate a lot of beets. I was particularly fond one winter of salads with roasted beets, walnuts and blue cheese (especially after I discovered the fabulous Point Reyes Blue). Patrick was bemused by my beet fascination. He’d come in after work and I’d be making yet another beet salad. "Oh," he’d say. "Beets again, eh?" 

One of the fun things about dating the MH is that he’s deeply omnivorous — he’s fun to cook for because  not only will he eat just about anything, but he really likes a lot of different foods —

— whether it’s the Lamb Ragu I cooked the other night from Mario Batali’s new book,
or the leftover pasta with sausage and bitter greens I pulled out of
the freezer and reheated last night. And it’s such a pleasure that he
cooks for me too — the famous antelope liver,
of course, or the delicious mallard ducks he did on the grill last week
(I *love* wild duck — my Dad and Patrick hunted ducks and I’m a sucker
for a nice fat mallard).

Experimenting with food has been one of the great joys of my
adulthood. While my parents were all pretty adventurous, there just
weren’t farmers markets or Whole Foods or even the variety of cheeses
that one can find in any gourmet shop these days — even in Chicago now
you can find much more interesting food than you could when we were
kids. People are talking about it more — writing about the fun of
discovering flavors and textures — learning to cook across cultures —
learning to break out of the straitjacket of the meat-starch-veg plates
we all grew up on. We’re all learning that fresh beets and their greens
are delicious, or that even antelope liver, while a little daunting, is wonderful. It can only be good for our larger food systems that people are having more fun with their food — that cooking and eating are becoming in America, as they have been for so long in many other parts of the world, a source of pleasure, and entertainment, and a way for us to share what we love with one another.

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