“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” -James Beard
Good food should move you. It should make you pause and notice. It should remind you of old memories, and it should be with you to create new ones. Food should never be a hassle or a burden, a dreaded chore at the end of the day. Cooking can be a wonderful creative outlet for the chef, trained or not, and should be a bonding experience for those with whom the chef shares their creations.
Growing up, my family always stopped to come together over a delicious homemade dinner, usually cooked by my dad. Even through my angsty teenage years, and then during my sister’s angsty teenage years, family dinner was a nightly event, and one we were almost never ashamed to invite our friends to enjoy.
During the summers especially, when our garden was bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables, I remember wandering through the vines eating fresh peas out of the pods and fighting my sister for the cherry tomatoes, still warm from the sun. I’ve never let myself get far from good food, and now I get to become closer through the process of creation.
I love the idea that food is a visceral connection to our forefathers, where barbecued kebabs have a charred taste not far removed from the first piece of meat that fell into an open fire. At its best, food is a connection to the past and a creative pathway to the future. At its worst, it’s a mess in the kitchen and an excuse to get takeout.
The beauty of food is in the improvisation. I always cook by taste and by feel, and I encourage you to do the same. Everyone has different likes and dislikes, and no one should have to suffer through a bad dinner because they “had” to include something they didn’t like. Take the food, make it yours, and most of all, make it fun.