Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Everybody Has A Foodprint

Food is one of those things you either care about or don’t. I’ll never understand those friends of mine who can go to a new city and not be constantly thinking about where we’ll eat dinner. Living out in the epicenter of nowhere like I do, I’m all about experiencing the edible offerings of my travels. When I’m in DC, I want something like Ted’s Bulletin, We The Pizza, or a soft pretzel vendor on the street. I don’t want to find the closest Chipotle, much as I love Chipotle. And don’t get me started on the sinking feeling that comes the second I realize I’m road-tripping with someone who doesn’t stop for snacks. Forget the bathroom: I want to know why we aren’t getting off this exit populated with exciting lunch options.



I consider food to be a kind of gift. If  I’ve prepared a meal for you, I’ve thought this through. I’ve done my best to remember the things you’ve told me you hate, the things you’re allergic to, the components of a good meal, and which tablecloth doesn’t have wax stuck to it from my family’s Valentine’s Day breakfast. Then I’ve cooked the meal and done my best to juggle the various pieces so they all come out at the same time and the oven fries haven’t wilted while I was mashing cloves of garlic for the salad dressing. And if I’m successful with all this, I hope you realize what a miracle it is that I managed to stay in the kitchen when really all I wanted to do was drink lemonade with you and eat guacamole straight from the bowl, because I love you like that.




My food is my signature. It’s uniquely mine, like my fingerprint. The recipes that have become family canon have memories sauteed into their fiber. Sometimes literally (my recipe for carrot cake is almost unreadable because of the film of dried cream cheese frosting over the plastic cover. Wipe it? Never.). New adventures in food come with memories of their own: where I was when I got the idea, or what Google search spawned this new mania with olive tapenade. Just like I can trace my family back to two Heffington brothers who came over from England way back when (whose noses we perpetuate to this day), I can trace the seasons of my life through the food I cook. No one else’s foodprint  is exactly like mine. One of the reasons I love to cook with friends is to learn their signatures. Sometimes the findings surprise me, like the fact that Katie, (a glamorous politico who taught me everything I know about designer clothing) cooks Southern comfort food. Or that Jill’s three favorite things to cook for friends are tacos, muffins, and pie. Possibly on the same plate.


We formed a text group, we three (plus another friend): The Sassyfrass Foodiehood, we called it. I’m the only one in the group who actually knows all three of the other members, but we were able to bond from afar over a mutual love of food: a New Yorker-turned-Virginian, an Oklahoman-turned-Virginian, a straight up Virginian (no chaser), and a tried and true Georgia native.  I love food. I love people. I love how the two combine our differences under a common roof of flavor. So what does my foodprint look like?

Pretty.
Bright.
Healthy (mostly).
Fresh.
Creative.
Flavor-packed.
Adventurous.
Traditional.


I have a stock of recipes that will always be in circulation but I also enjoy trying something completely new. I like to use as many colors as possible and making a plate “look pretty” is a goal. My cooking adventures are often inspired by something I’ve written, watched, read, or experienced recently. Hence my foray into homemade tikka masala chicken after watching The Hundred-Foot Journey or my need to make chevre right now after having read up on cheese cultures. I’m the girl who’s all about wheat-free and natural alternative sweeteners till the sourdough bread comes out. Then we’re toast and tea and butter till kingdom come. I swear there is a right and wrong way to make toast. I’ll blog about it sometime. I like to play with new flavors, put coffee in my chili, and throw thyme and honey together in a mustard sauce because bees like both. It’s the Rachel Method, where logic counts very little in your final score.  I take recipes, substitute half the ingredients and go by instinct much of the time. I cheat on chilling times and forcibly rise dough in a warm oven. Basically, I take polite liberties with my cooking to let my personality come through the flavors and presentation. Cooking should be fun, not a stress. Cooking should be a total blast. The recipes I share on this blog are the ridges and lines, swirls and dips in my unique foodprint, and I thank you truly for letting me share them with you. Bread is meant for breaking together, food is made for sharing...so I want to know now: what’s your foodprint?


(All food pictures taken on my recent trip to Romania. If I lived there, I would officially be enormous.)

6 comments:

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  2. I know what you mean. Food is so much fun, and everybody has different ideas about what tastes best . . . and nobody is really wrong!
    You can trace your family back that far? That's awesome! Most of the different branches of my family end at 1850 or possibly later--I mean, they don't really END but I know nothing more about them. Like, for example, I had some Polish great-great grandparents who came over sometime around 1910 but I know NOTHING about their history in Poland. Nothing at all. Sigh.

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    1. Jessica: So pleased to have you drop by, and thank you for leaving a comment! As you can see, I'm still working on this blog, which hasn't officially launched, so thanks for your patience in the "under-construction" stage. ;) Yes, some hard-working person traced my family history back and shared it with me, so I have it that far. But then again, my best friend can trace her lineage to the signing of the Magna Carta and (tentatively) to the first century. #overachiever. ;)

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    2. No problem--I actually didn't notice anything, it looked just fine to me :)

      Wheew! That's a LONG time. Is she related to anybody noble by any chance? That would make it a little easier because they tended to have better-preserved lineages, but still, it's an incredibly impressive achievment.

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  3. this blog makes me so happy! I feel like we have similar styles and tastes, Rachel, so I can't wait to read more posts!
    I work in an Indian restaurant and chicken tikka masala is the BOMB. I also recommend shahi curry sauce.

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