Foodie. I think about this term a lot. I hear it come out of peoples mouth when they describe an appreciation for food, a knowledge of food or even particular taste in food. I like being called the “F-word”. Below is a really great submission written by my good friend Lucine Sihelnik. Lucine and I go way back to high school lunches where no one had a clue as to really what they were eating or why. But Lucine had a different experience. She was lucky enough to be the kid who brought the “weird lunch” to school. I was envious of the kids with the “weird lunch”and will do my best to change at least my kids perceptions of food. You see in my mind opening your palate at a very early age will only benefit you later in life. Children have no pre-conceived dislikes of tastes, smells or textures and it is our job to keep exposing them to different and varied foods. Not always will they like it, but at least encourage them to try it. That’s the rule in our home.
Lucine is a master organic farmer, Yoga master and more importantly a good spirit! She is the founder of GAYATRI WELLNESS. In the few short times I have seen Lucine over the last couple years (just don’t get home much) we have had really rich conversations about food. Her passion and enthusiasm beam through. You can feel it in her words below!
A beautiful era has brought together the zeal of real food, combined with the melting pot of culinary diversity, partnered with local food movements, alternative diets, and has created a niche of foodies like no other.
I am proud to say that I am one of those people….and I”m a vegetarian. Don’t get me wrong, I miss bacon. I have an entire cow, locally sourced, certified organic in my freezer at my farm for Co- Op members. There are textures and flavors that cannot be emulated by any account, and growing up as an omnivore, I sometimes savor a perfectly cooked steak in my dreams. It is a personal choice, however, to not eat meat at this time in my life. I do support all types of diets (meaning the ability for a person to set a precedence and choose what they eat) and respect all foodies around the world. I just happen to be one of those foodies who is a vegetarian. I can assure you that I’m not starving, unhealthy, or lacking in the creative flow of celebrating and eating real, good, taste bud tantalizing food!
My foodie journey began with my grandmother, preparing only Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine in the house. At the time I had no idea how lucky I was to have fresh hummus, pita, tabouli, lamb, kebab, yogurt, cheese and bread on a daily basis. It opened my palate to taste real food: veggies grown in the garden, delicious whole milk turned into dairy delights, watching the flour and yeast rise and fall in a metal bowl, nestled in a dark warm corner of the kitchen and covered by a bright cloth….these are all fond memories of my grandmothers kitchen. I used to think that picking parsley heads and combing through lentils to find rocks were my form of punishment for requesting hamburgers and pizza for dinner.
The true fact is that while others of my generation were being raised on quick, prepared, proceed food, I was lucky enough to get the real deal. And once your taste buds have danced in the delight of a real food, prepared in the kitchen with love, you just can’t stomach what they are serving in salad bars, restaurants and grocery stores trying to pass as “fresh”. The ability to also savor spices and herbs, used in a multi-dimensional signature for flavor, color, heat, bitter, sour, sweet and medicinal purposes in every meal, is a gift. I have no fear when it comes to diving in to something that may look or smell unusual or has a name that I cannot pronounce. I’m also one of those people who always orders off the chefs specials, knowing that most likely these are the most seasonal, locally sourced, creative and made to order featured choices.
My travels have awarded me with the opportunity to plunge my right hand into a tagene of couscous and veggies in the souks of Morocco, paella with squid ink in southern Spain, rich sauces and tarts in France, dense pasta and gelato in Italy, meals of beer in England, Germany, and Ireland and the best Halloumi Gyro at the corner stand in Greece. My dining companions have also treated me to home made delights of delicately pungent kimchi in DC, salty miso soup in NY, hearty potato and cabbage in PA, spicy gumbo in LA, and fizzy Kombucha in CA. In gratitude, I bring these taste, smells, sights and sounds to the joy of cooking everyday.
Not every meal in my kitchen is extravagant. Let’s be honest…..I just don’t have the time. I consider cooking as part of my meditative, soul enriching, self care taking ritual. A quick omelet using fresh local eggs, cheese, veggies and artisan bread is a perfect Monday night meal. Taking the time to source these ingredients from the people I know, either at farmers markets, or direct from the bread makers and cheese mongers themselves, is part of the experience. In my cooking classes, which are all vegetarian, my philosophy is enjoying and cooking real food and enhancing their natural flavors, textures, and benefits. A home made black bean burger, guacamole and pico de gallo is satisfying, easy and healthy. Cuisine of the Mediterranean, Middle East, Latin America and Asia lead themselves easily to be meat free, intensely delightful and fun!
Eating seasonally and locally is one of the best ways to ensure a great meal. Focusing on the tastes that each ingredient can provide leads to creatively, mindfulness and connectivity. This is how a modern vegetarian foodie gets her fix. I leave you to your kitchen, your local restaurants and your travels to truly join the real food movement in every bite you take on your journey!