This past year, I put my blog on the back burner. In truth, after spending all of 2015 developing recipes, photographing food, editing photos, writing about food, etc. on a daily basis. I needed a break!
I took the year to pursue other projects, broaden my skill set, read (a lot!!), and to find out what food really, deeply means to me. What I found is that, in the world of food service, preparation, photography, and…just food, in general, there is a lot of noise and a lot of pressure out there.
Noise comes in the form of so many “influencers” telling you how you should feel about food. There is so much contradictory research out there and, no matter, what you believe, you must be wrong about it. A conversation about food might go something like this:
“Well, I only eat locally grown products, so…”
“Oh? You should really start eating hyper-locally. It’s so much better.”
“Didn’t you say you were vegetarian? But you’re eating eggs and honey, too? Monster!!”
“You know, I’ve heard that eating vegetarian isn’t even that healthy anymore. I thought Paleo was the way to go.”
“Whatever you do, you should really do one of those detox cleanses. I did that and I feel so much better.”
“Aren’t those dangerous?”
“Not if you follow my ‘7 Simple Tips for a Healthy 3-Day Detox’.”
I mean, it sounds so ridiculous, but that just about boils down the food dialogue that I hear and read all the time. It brings to mind this photo of a “vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, raw, non-GMO, organic, fat-free, low-carb dinner.”
Seriously, though, you could start a new diet plan each month and not even scratch the surface of what’s out there. There’s no telling what new ancient superfood or technique is going to be trending this year. And which geographic region are we going to be modeling our eating styles after next? There’s just no way of knowing.
Much of this noise comes as a result of the pressures that are out there for people who work with food. It’s a pressure to innovate. To constantly push the envelope of food, photography, etc. To do what no one else has done before. You can’t just develop a recipe; you have to write a cookbook. You can’t just make a video; you have to work towards your own TV show. We aren’t allowed to just keep it simple; we have to add that one extra step, or mile, or ten. Otherwise, why do it in the first place?
Look, I’m not saying that innovation in and of itself is bad. But when innovate for innovation’s sake, when we learn the rules for taking another person’s recipe and changing it so that it becomes ours….that’s just taking it too far.
The fact is that, while this noise and pressure may help you learn how others feel about food or how you are “supposed” to feel about food, it often confuses how you, yourself, may actually feel about it. Chef Michael Chiarello once said, “What keeps me motivated is not the food itself, but all the bonds and memories the food represents.” According to Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, “Food is so heavily connected to memory.” Chef Eric Ripert says that, “For me, food is about memories, feelings, emotions….”
Food means so much to so many. These aren’t always good memories, but they certainly shape the way that we approach our plates. How can we nail down what food is in a diet plan, or a blog post, or 140 characters? Is food supposed to be innovative or imitative? Nutrition and sustenance or comfort and tradition? Fast or slow? Simple or complex? Familiar or exotic?
This simple answer is….YES! It is, can, and should be all of these! Depending on your mood, background, or company, it could any of these things and can change on a dime. Over the next year, I hope to delve into and unravel some of these different aspects of food and start a dialogue that leads to a healthy relationship with food. Not someone else’s relationship, but your relationship. Yours and yours alone. One that is unique to you and your particular set of circumstances.
Along they way, I’ll share some recipes and techniques that may help you in your journey, but no noise, no pressure. Just thoughts and ideas that have come about over the past few years.
I hope you enjoy!