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