Gastronomical Awakening.

January 6, 2010

Warning: Here at Merit to the Carrot, I like to keep my writing short, sweet, and to the point (with a nice little addition of wit and sarcasm). However, this post is a little different. I hope it doesn’t scare anyone off, but I’d just like to go into a little detail about something I discovered…

I feel as if I have been living a lie. Perhaps I am flirting with a hyperbolic line by saying “living a lie”, but it sets up the discussion. I have regarded myself as a foodie for some time now; however, I have failed to fully grasp the meaning and depth behind that label. I suppose I can relate my struggle to that of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, in which the main character, good ol’ American Edna, struggles to find herself within the crazy Creole world of New Orleans, bustling with the candid French. Her character has a strong proclivity for the propriety of the Victorian way of life, therefore leaving her new and naive to the life she has taken on by marrying a Creole, where sex, child birth, and adultery are openly discussed and taken lightly. Edna slowly but surely begins to suppress her fears of emotion, spontaneity, and candor to achieve an awakening: an awakening of the senses, whetting her appreciation for life and all it has to offer. With that said, I present to you my gastronomical awakening.

I like food, I like to cook it, I like to eat it… but I also spend a lot of time worrying about it. Nutritional concerns, of course. Now, there’s no harm in that, because I am a firm believer in a well balanced, nutritious diet, but I find myself missing out on the joy of cooking… with real butter, with artisan cheeses & bread (non-whole wheat), with olives, with pesto, with creme fraiche… all in moderation. MODERATION. Duh, Sam! I’d like to think back to my time in Paris, where slim, French women de mode won my adoration with their impossibly natural beauty and impeccable taste, in both fashion and food. In France, I didn’t see Special K posters in the metro boasting a bowl of ‘delicious’ cereal, containing only 100 calories, nor did I see bananas with possibly the most offensive, ridiculous sticker I am yet to see on a piece of produce. Or anywhere for that matter.

Okay… have I been asleep my whole life, or has America truly gone crazy?

For breakfast, baguettes, crepes, and croissants are consumed with an accomplice of coffee, sweetened with sugar. Heaven forbid. I used the word accomplice specifically for its connotation to crime. In the good ol’ US of A, many would frown upon this seemingly ‘bad’ combination of carbs & sugar passing for breakfast. But you know what? It tastes good, and the French do live longer lives. Coincident? I think not. The fact of the matter is, REAL food is GOOD. I’m not saying in any way, shape, or form that a carnivorous, cheese filled, vegetarian, vegan, or raw diet does not consist of ‘real’ food, I’m just saying that, personally, I’ve been blind.  I have avoided true culinary delights, looking at them through a microscope as if they were  bacteria, breaking down its organic makeup and origin. Thank goodness for Science, for it has proven that there are both good and bad bacteria. Just like gastronomy. There are both the good and the bad. To have  fresh fire roasted tomato Bruschetta or chicken liver pate atop my crunchy artisan bread? It’s all a matter of taste, and I’ve realized that maybe MY taste would like to be further awakened. (Don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m going to go run off an whip me up a batch of liver pate).. I’d just like to be more adventurous with my cooking, creating new flavors and incorporating ingredients that I’m not used to. What’s truly important to me is that it’s fresh, wholesome, and the ingredients are not processed in a huge factory with additions of anything from the periodic table of elements. I still think of myself as clever in the kitchen, but I’ve realized that I’m bouncing around in a bubble, going from side to side without breaking through and discovering something truly magnificent. I’d like to see a little less couscous & veggies and a little more Parmesan, parsley & pistachio flat bread pizzas coming out of my kitchen. I love the way I eat, I’d just like to open my eyes and truly see all that the incredible gourmet world has to offer.

I want to be the one people ask for a fantastic pasta (which will still remain whole wheat 😉 ) recipe. I want to be thought of as friends and family scan menus at great restaurants, where they’d say “Oh, I bet Sam would LOVE this!” and it won’t just be a salad. I want to be like Julia Child, James Beard, Craig Clairborne… all of the shapers and shakers of our country’s food revolution!

Source: New York Times

But of course, I still want to be me. Just with a wider dietary dictionary and an even greater love for food.

If you made it through all of that and managed to connect the dots of my crazy point, you deserve to win my giveaway. Last couple of hours to enter!

Now I leave you with a picture, and of course, a few words to describe it.

Mediterranean Chickpeas & Spinach atop spinach and orzo, garnished with a drizzle of mint yogurt sauce.

Oh, and please please please check out my bestest friend’s new blog!


18 Responses to “Gastronomical Awakening.”

  1. I’m slightly sad because I think that was on the banana I gave you?

  2. sam, i am head of heels for this post. first of all you are a brilliant writer, you play with words as well as you play with food.
    i agree, its all about real food. i still may be a bit scared of some real foods, but its what i’m striving to overcome. its so beautiful to express creativity through food 🙂
    i can’t wait to see you continue this journey!
    happy wednesday!

  3. Lexi Says:

    Oh my god, that banana sticker disgusts me.

  4. Emily Says:

    that banana sticker is a sin — bananas are too yummy to be plastered with that nonsense.

    go for all your food goals, girl. You can already make some beautiful, most likely amazing food concoctions, so I have no doubt what else you can do in the kitchen!

  5. Reigne Says:

    I agree! There is too large a fixation on “wholesome, clean” foods, and inherently, too little a fixation on “wholesome, real foods” nowadays. Even I, fear to properly enjoy and appreciate “real” foods – a good loaf of sourdough bread, good cheeses, pate, real coffee etc… What’s the point of being a foodie, if you can’t appreciate all kinds of food? If one was to stop fixating on the “100% wholesome, clean” diet, and start incorporating, “real” foods their own diet, I could practically guarantee that they would stop seeing those “real” foods as the enemy, and would instead experience true bodily content – and see those foods as a real pleasure, a little indulgence, and something that they truly deserve and no longer have to “earn” – regardless of their own body composition, mental condition, and exercise and eating habits.

    Of course, it’s going to take a long time for the message to get across. Because their are so many diets, which promote the restriction of certain food groups, saying that they are fat. It’s not fat or carbs that are going to make you fat, it’s the excess calories you consume.

    For me, I’m still battling the feeling that I get when I’m consuming foods like bread, cake, sugar, coffee etc. The feeling that tells me that I shouldn’t be eating those foods because they have no health benefits. Sure enough, I can go to town with a packet of walnuts, or a packet of pumperknickel, but I can almost never eat a slice of cake or a piece of white sourdough bread without being consumed with guilt.

    Sorry for that momentary rant – as you’ve probably realised, I too, feel very strongly about that certain topic.

    Xoxo. Reigne.

  6. Katharina Says:

    You go girl!!! For me, when I think of food I think of flavor and I don’t like to skimp. Take cheeses for example. There is nothing like cheeses.. no substitute you just gotta have the real deal or there’s no point. The point of using brie is to taste real brie and enjoy it! Camembert ooof I have a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich for that if you’d like it. I am so happy for you and your journey on enjoying real food. I know in American society.. where balance is hard to find, you see diet this diet that and bad this and good that flying around. But it’s not food that’s the problem.. it’s the people who don’t know how to just enjoy what’s there and that is all. I think a lot of Americans just have this idea of more more more – and it’s not just limited to food either. And the habit of excess has led to unhealthy tendencies and I think it’s deeply impacted the nation. Anyway, I could go on forever on my views on this.. it’s just a shame. People could be enjoying real cream cheese, various breads, a rich dessert! I’m so glad you are taking your taste buds to new heights!!!


  7. daintyvegan Says:

    What the hell? I’ve never seen a banana with a sticker like that! That’s so ridiculous it’s not even funny.

    I think this was a great post, Sam and I’m looking forward to hearing about and seeing all of your crazy, delicious culinary masterpieces!

  8. Shelley (findinghappinessandhealth) Says:

    sam i love this post!! first of all, you are not a ‘pretend’ foodie. you are simply influenced by american society (we ALL are!!). I thinkt he reason French people live longer and aren’t obese while still eating ‘fattening’ foods is because they understand the concept of moderation (like you said). If you treat yourself, you are less likely to over-indulge and therefore, eat balanced & healthily. It is so hard to change though, when we are surrounded by crazzzy things like that sticker on the banana… that makes me want to slap someone!! haha
    love ya girl, read this whole post 😀 so i’m thinking i should win that amazing giveaway of yours..just sayin’


  9. seekmyself Says:

    Great post Sam! This is something I find myself struggling with as well… at the moment, I have a hard time justifying eating something simply for the taste; everything has to have some sort of nutritional value to me or I feel guilty. It sucks, too, because there are so many flavors and foods I want to experiment with but I’m currently too afraid. Maybe I’ll be able to bring myself to taking the journey along with you though 🙂

  10. Katie Says:

    You are right. I think a lot of us (bloggers and women in general) focus on our food a bit too much. When I say focus, I mean focus in an obsessive way – counting calories, restricting, avoiding all “fatty” foods, and mainly missing out on the best culinary creations. With this being said, I am not going to drop my high-raw vegan diet, because that is what works best for me and my body (not to mention my digestion!). But, I would love to see less and less bloggers, women, and people obsess over the nutrition content of their food. Yes, we need to be conscious of what we put into our bodies; eat fresh fruits and veggies; consume whole foods that come from the source; and be happy and healthy in general. I think a true love for food buds from these actions. I struggled with an eating disorder for about a year. Recovering from that helped me to see how I should treat my body as a temple and it taught me to enjoy cooking, tasting, and eating. My love for food has never been stronger. I am glad that you are seeing that you need to make a positive change. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to have a healthy love for the glory of food. 🙂

  11. Brooke Says:

    yes! totally agree with you sam. billions of american’s have a poor relationship with food (myself included). food is meant to be enjoyed, savored, and finished so we can move on with our lives. but unfortunately we are brainwashed with diets, exercise and substitutions constantly in the media. what about the rest of the population that is not over weight? under weight. or even at a healthy weight. its disgusting. which is why i hope to live in europe someday, in hopes of loving myself, my life and my body.

    ps. this morning, my banana was wearing the same damn sticker. cool.

    -brooke xo

  12. Rachael Says:

    I like my bananas wearing cheery yellow peels, not depressing and offensive stickers.
    I don’t think there’s anything liar-is about you at all! It’s almost impossible to not be influenced or swayed by the society and media around you in some way unless you become a total hermit. There are definitely “good” and “bad” labels (and not just the sticker kind) attached to foods, which is really sad. And when you think about it, what exactly makes a food good or evil?
    I so admire your ability to see past the craziness and personally view this post as a wake up call which I desperately needed. I can’t wait to see the “post gastronomical awakening” culinary adventures in your future!


  13. Wow, I just found your blog and I REALLY enjoyed reading this post:) It’s so real and easy to relate to. And I completely agree- food should be enjoyable- not the #1 focus of our lives or an obsession. I’m happy you had such a great realization and shared it with everyone… I hope I can come to this conclusion about myself and my relationship with food. Thanks so much!

    PS- That banana sticker is hysterical… really!??!

  14. crazylittlethingneela Says:

    loved loved loved this post my dear!
    there is nothing more beautiful than a tasty and fullfilling realtionship with food. amen to that!
    and that banana, oh gosh (sorry to say this but america and their diet drama has gone bad) thank god here in asia we have only reached the state of all carb are bad for you diet stage. complete bullshit! i’d rather follow your steps 😉

  15. determinedtoshine Says:

    I LOVED this post Sam! You have truly hit the nail on the head, and have inspired me to also branch out my diet to include more adventurous foods – like you said, “everything in moderation”! I don’t want to look back on my diet when I am 60 and think to myself “I wish I had eaten more bread/pizza/pie…” Life is too short for that!

    Keep up this positive attitude my love 😀
    Hannah xo

    ps, that banana disgusts me. How can something as humble and honest as a piece of fruit have been corrupted by the diet industry?

  16. maggie Says:

    While reading that I kept nodding because I too think the same way. I actually was at WF last night watching people buy artisian cheeses and olives wishing I knew how to use them in meals. I’ve always went for healthy but sometimes healthy isnt “heart-y” as in food filled with love and passion. I guess its all in moderation and to be honest the french have always fasinated me also. They are the model of moderation and simplification. If only we could all do the same!

    You are an artist of words,

  17. This post truly captures the “essence” that is America. This is something I think about everyday and wish SO badly I could change. Think of how many more happy girls and boys there’d be in the world? Think of how many less eating disorders there’d be.

    I hope this inspires others as it has inspired me.

  18. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce Says:

    america HAS gone totally crazy, and it’s actually really disturbing when you tak a step back and realize how twisted our society has become about something so essential and basic: food! i think you do a great job with your blog, with your food philosophy, etc, and i’m sure you can expand your dietary horizons and people will think of dishes you’d love that aren’t strictly salads!

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