Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Today is Blog Action Day and World Food Day. Big deal? Yeah, for those of us who lead comfortable enough lives that we have time to read and write food blogs, food is something we take for granted. But if you spend time with your local food bank, you will soon realize that lots of folks worry every day about how they’re going feed themselves and their kids.

I sometimes feel frustrated because I live so far away from the nearest Whole Foods Market or because my guy isn’t that interested in signing up for a CSA or that I have an electric, not gas, stove. Seriously? Like the Twitter meme says, #firstworldproblems.

In thinking about what to write for Blog Action Day, I first thought of focusing on the hungry in our communities and the importance of supporting your local food bank, but instead I’ll direct you to my friend Lisa Sullivan’s blog. She’s a social media ambassador for our local food bank, a cause she cares deeply about. Today she wrote about feeling blessed because she’s not hungry. We are blessed.

Others write more passionately and knowledgeably about sustainable farming, food and health, food safety and food waste – some of the other topics I thought about.

I decided to keep it personal. We do take food for granted. Even when we’re feeling less than rich, we can afford to. We buy it, order it, make it, eat it, grow it, hunt it, gather it, waste it, argue about it, get on our high horse about it, love it, hate it, obsess over it…

blog action day food cooking

Photo by Chris Buecheler (Flickr)

Food is my hobby. I have to get some work done today because I’m taking time off soon, but what I’d rather do is spend all day in the kitchen, with cooking shows on TV in the background, making grape focaccia, baklava-style walnut butter, spicy red onion jam and something for dinner.

Food is a simple pleasure for me but I know it’s not that way for everyone. I never had to work all day, come home, make dinner and feed a bunch of kids and a husband, like my mother did. Food has always been a joyful part of my life, not a thankless chore. I try to keep those moms in mind when I’m writing my blog.

For many years my co-workers (restaurant cooks) made my meals. Nice life, huh? When I joined the 9-5 or, more accurately, the 8-6 crowd, if I was too tired to cook at the end of the day, I picked up dinner on my way home. Not everyone has those luxuries.

Cooking and feeding those you love can be a pleasure if you want it to be. Chopping and stirring provide moments of zen, as long as you don’t stress out over anything. Everyone makes mistakes in the kitchen. I served undercooked chicken to Jim just last week. No biggie, back into the oven it went. Most everything is fixable, and when it isn’t, live and learn and make a sandwich. Always have something in the cupboard or frig that can be a miserable Plan B.

In the kitchen you get to flex your creative muscle. You have the satisfaction of the finished product. Not many people have something tangible to show for their work at the end of the day; in the kitchen, you do.

Through food we learn more about science, other cultures, history and our local community. You can support your regional economy by buying local at farm stands, farmers markets, supermarkets (maybe) or from CSAs.

Greet, honor and celebrate seasons with food. I prefer making food that’s local or in season. It’s more special that way, and tastes a heck of a lot better, plus there are all the good environmental and economic reasons to do that. Wait for the spring to enjoy strawberries and asparagus. Celebrate corn and berries in the summer. Right now it’s the season of sweet potatoes, winter squash and apples. In the winter we get Brussels sprouts and root vegetables, plus citrus fruit if you live in California.

Why do I love food so much? Because of those moments, you know the ones, the best are shared. When you sit down, relax and enjoy a plate of soul food – eggplant sausage pepper parmesan, spaghetti with tomato sauce, broccoli rabe, garlic bread and a glass of red wine. Those memories, whether it’s last night’s Italian dinner or the Dungeness crab you had for Christmas lunch with your west coast family or the blueberry pancakes your mother made on a camping trip in Maine or the shrimp (with heads!) you had in a Portuguese café or the juicy peach you ate over the kitchen sink.

My wish for Blog Action Day is for everyone to have those moments at the table or over the sink. Let’s not take our food for granted. Enjoy your Sunday table.

Update: Here’s another Blog Action Day post from my friend Ilina about her kitchen table. A great read especially for those with kids.

And from Cindy Butts who gives the association management perspective on food. Yes, we have issues too!

blog action day food cooking

Photo by Naotake Murayama (Flickr)

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