Our Eating Lives features stories about how food, cooking, and eating have shaped who we are and how we live.
This is a guest post from Kristen Price. Kristen completed her Master’s degree in Elementary Education in 2008 with dreams of changing the world. Hoping for a bit more than the pennies she made, she hopped into the Instructional Design world where the semi-average bucks are. Though, she doesn’t understand why her new students aren’t as excited by alphabet craft projects as the 4 year olds were. In a perfect world, she’d rather prefer to eat her way around the world, read all of the books cluttering her home, start a few charities and settle in across the pond with a nice English bloke and a few little ones, Currently, she spends her time in Maryland reading, writing and dreaming. Follow Kristen on Twitter @2013Smiles.
While my friends were silently worshipping super heroes, writers and actors, I
was busy reading, watching and learning from the best chefs I knew. As I got
older, I started watching cooking-ish shows (I say “ish” because I’m not such a
fan of the “here’s how you cook this dish” cooking show. I’m more interested in
“they have this amazing food here, let’s go try it” cooking shows), stockpiling food books, and scouring food magazines. Because of this, I became adventurous and ravenous.
I love food. I love to eat it. I love to smell it cooking and occasionally, I even like to cook it myself (not often, mind you, I haven’t reached that level of skill yet). I am unabashedly a foodie and am enjoying every minute of it. But how did I get here? What makes someone like me dream of feasting on a delicate and delicious macaron from La Duree in Paris, while others I know won’t even eat foods that have touched an onion for fear of cross-contamination? That’s fairly easy to deduce. I have culinary heroes and they don’t.
Chef Granny, Chef Pop-Pop and Chef Dad: I suppose they were the first people to introduce me to the food world. There was always food in my grandmother’s kitchen and always dessert. She was from the south, so there were treats such as biscuits and gravy, Cream Chipped Beef and Fried Chicken, with something sweet and perfect for dessert. She would whip up these amazing concoctions with nothing more than what was in the cupboard at the time. While my grandfather, on the other hand, would keep careful notes and recipes in an old beat-up binder, usually covered in flour remnants from past successes. He had specialties, such as potato pancakes, and perfectly thin and crisp sugar cookies. He had perfected these recipes and knew exactly what worked. These would be what he passed down to us.
My dad has most definitely taken after his mother in the kitchen. He doesn’t
follow recipes. He skims them of course and that never stops him from
stockpiling cookbooks galore (and people wonder where I get it from) but in
the end, he usually wings it. I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and I love his salsa specifically. I can’t even buy salsa at the store anymore. But, he’s currently up to version 7.0 I think. The stuff is always delicious, but he just keeps tweaking it, mostly because he can.
My grandparents and my dad taught me that cooking and food is supposed to be
fun and is meant to be enjoyed. It’s not all starched chef’s whites and perfectly measured ingredients. It’s flour stained cookbooks, new versions and kitchen sink recipes. Though, as much as I’d like to, I still haven’t mastered this skill yet. I’m not nearly as relaxed as they seem to be in the kitchen, but I’m getting there.
Chef Julia Child: Isn’t she everyone’s culinary idol? I’ve never even read her numerous cookbooks, but I’ve always loved her for one simple reason. She seemed to love food just as much as I do. She had fun in the kitchen and wanted others to share in that same fun. This is a lesson some chefs today would really benefit from learning. She was big and brash and fantastic, and she always reminded me of my grandmother, which made me love her that much more.
Chef Anthony Bourdain: I’ve always said that I want to be Tony when I grow up. I discovered his book “A Cook’s Tour” when it was first released. I devoured it and was in awe of him from the first page. The man must have an iron stomach because he will eat ANY-thing. He’s been my inspiration to be more adventurous.
I’ve always loved food, but I’ve also always been a bit picky. Seeing what he’s
eaten, gave me the courage to try new things and branch out of my comfort zone.
Also, he’s absolutely fearless. How can you not like a guy with nerves like that?
There have been, of course, others along the way. If I was pressed, I could
probably list dozens of chefs that fascinate and delight me. (There would most
definitely be a few Top Chefs on that list.) But these are the important ones; the ones that introduced me to this world of food, and sometimes cooking, and the ones to which I’m eternally grateful.