I love to think about food as more than just a bunch of ingredients put together that result in something pleasant or unpleasant for the palate. What I see on the plate is the union of the skill of the cook, the choice of ingredients and stories about connection of places and people.
True food always tells a story and understanding that story is part of the experience of eating.
That’s one of the reasons why I love to grow vegetables and fruits in my garden. They become part of my story but they are also part of a bigger narrative, the expression of seasons. Enjoying strawberries in summer and squash in the fall gives me the pleasure of waiting for the right food in the right season.
I always find it amazing how much you can learn about identity and culture through food. Let’s think about what we consider a ‘traditional’ Italian recipe: Gnocchi al Pomodoro (with tomato sauce). This simple dish represents the integration of newer elements, like potatoes and tomatoes from the New World in the 16th century with the ancient wisdom of mixing some flour with water and rolling it into a round shape. What a loss for Italy, and the entire world if the culinary tradition had stayed static and refused to open up to ingredients from the New World.
Food becomes the expression of identity when we gather people around ingredients and stories and we see how they can be combined.