My Relationship with Food
As a chef, I try to taste as much as possible; I rarely go to a restaurant and get one dish. If I go somewhere to eat and I see ten things on a menu that I must have, I’ll try them all!
I often describe food as sex on a plate, something that will make you want to slap something, someone or break something! A prime example, and one of my all time favorite dishes in the world (so far) is the Rabbit Cacciatore from Valentino’s Cucina Italiana in my adopted home of Fort Lauderdale. I tell people to watch out when they order it, “You will want to get up, pick up your chair and hurl it violently through the large plate glass front window!” It’s that good. Sorry Peter Cotton Tail, Thumper, Runny Babbit, Roger Rabbit, Aunt Bunny. Some foods are just too fine to resist, even if they come from animals with cute faces.
Small Things – Strong Memories
You can probably tell that I have a very emotional relationship with food. Oddly enough, and as surprising as this may be, my strongest emotions and memories are most often for the little things, not the large, showy dishes.
One of these things just happens to be ketchup. I know, KETCHUP?? Yes, ketchup is my crack… I have certain things that I have to have it on and if I don’t have it, LOOK OUT! Don’t mess with this girl’s ketchup, I’ll bite!
If it’s not Heinz don’t even bother, it would be like buying store brand toilet paper made from recycled sandpaper. Hunt’s is against my religion! For no rational reason, certain containers of Heinz taste even better than others, the large wide mouth glass jar for instance; this particular vessel brings back very strong memories about my childhood. Even today’s flock of gourmet ketchup cannot compare to the flavor memories I have of Heinz.
When I was young, my mother waited tables at a tiny little place across the street from our house. My sister, brother and I would frequently visit her after school. Their ketchup – served on every table? Heinz in the large wide mouth glass jar!
Every time I see one of these containers, it takes me back to that time in my childhood and I know my sibs feel the same way. I think about a lot of food that I can’t imagine not having and I try to remember the first time I ever had it. I usually find a fond memory of eating that food, often from when I was young.
(Ed: Note – we believe that almost everybody has a strong memory of some food from their childhood. What’s yours? Check the poll on the side of the page and let us know!)
Growing up, I was a very picky eater. I rejected tomatoes (ketchup, in my book, is not a tomato!), strawberries, beef, pork, anything too squishy, certain herbs, veggies, chicken on the bone, etc. I missed out on so much goodness; I have so much catching up to do! The good news is I am well on my way.
With so many medical breakthroughs in the area of genetics, perhaps soon you will be able to choose how smart your baby will be, how athletic, even what your baby will look like, who knows? As odd as this may sound, if I could choose a trait for my children, I would give them adventurous palettes. Who needs looks when you can have endless unforgettable food experiences?
At this point, you probably think that I must weigh around 500 pounds. Not only do I love eating, I love cooking. As a Pastry Chef, I bake for a living. Every day, I bake and taste desserts to create dishes that my customers will devour with every one of their senses. Sure, I still ask, “Do I look fat?” In fact, I ask it often!! Staying not-fat means tasting small, but mostly it means being willing to regularly put in the time working out, and burning calories, which I do joyously, because I’m doing it for love.
To me, this is the best of all possible jobs and I think I’m a lucky girl.
I live, sleep, EAT and breathe food. I can’t think of anything else I am more passionate about. I always tell people that I don’t eat because I am hungry; I eat because I love food. I don’t even think I know what hunger feels like. Great food makes me feel like the richest girl in the world.
P.S. My cholesterol is stellar. So far! They say love conquers all – maybe it can even conquer my metabolism. In the meantime, I love to eat, and I eat with love. Oh, and the occasional sound of a solid smack (in a good way, of course) on a dining companion’s face, or the even more occasional sound of a piece of furniture going through a window.
The author, Sarah Magoon, is Executive Pastry chef at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL, whose name begins – and ends – with a letter between “V” and “X”. Full disclosure – this passionate foodie and brilliant chef is our niece, from whom we learn new things every day.