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A Fascination for Food


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It began when I was a kid, that first cathartic food moment. We'd been apple picking, and I bit into an apple fresh from the tree. I was suddenly flooded with all kinds of signals - the flavor, the memories, the sheer joy of a Cortland apple on a blustery Upstate New York autumn day - I suddenly felt like a real human being with a history! Very complex emotions came at me fast, something special happened that I cannot quite define. I wasn't sure if the kids around me were feeling it too.

It continued when I began to travel. My discovery of a culture was intertwined with a deep investigation into the cuisine and its history. First Germany, then Turkey, then a more profound investigation lasting several years in China, now after 4 years in France, the more I learn, the more there is to learn. It's a neverending source of joyous inspiration for me, in fact, one of the most important things in my life, I might add.

It occurred to me that some people might conclude that I am obscessed. It's my passion, I admit. And it has been for as long as I can remember. But a problem?

Has anyone ever insinuated that your love of all things food related is a problem? Family? Friends?

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Well, A. complains that every time we get together with friends for something (movies, a day at the beach) that "you're only interested in what you can cook to share!"

He also can get a little testy as I plunge into my fourth or fifth potential supplier of, say, genuine grits on one of my Epic Ingredient Quests -- which usually involve, for starters, an hour-long drive to the nearby Great Metropolis of Toronto with all attendant headaches, followed by hours of downtown driving/walking. Or when I insist that after doing grocery shopping at one place, we need to go to a wholly different place for three things which can only be purchased there and that I simply must have.

He doesn't, however, complain very much about my need to go in and purchase samples from every small pastry-maker or independent chocolatier -- particularly since I'll usually get three or four must-try things, have two bites from each to get the idea, and pass the rest on to him! :wink:

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Has anyone ever insinuated that your love of all things food related is a problem? Family? Friends?

My husband comments about it all the time. He just doesn't get it. Especially because of the inverse relationship between the quantity of food I eat and amount of time I spend reading about, talking about, and cooking food. But I think after 9 years I'm making some headway with him. Recently we went to an event where he came up to me and said he couldn't eat the food served because it sucked (this is a guy who usually never says no to food)

I also have friends who think I'm crazy. They call me Suzy Homemaker, which personally I find insulting.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Okay, my name is johnnyd and I am hopelessly consumed with good food...

Hiii, johnnyd!

I have noticed a real problem concentrating at work and fret about my ability to hold a job. I find I make excuses to go to fresh markets the day of delivery instead of seeing a client, same with fish markets. I lie awake imagining new ways to combine ingredients, getting up exhausted that morning. My wife is threatening to start an "eGullet Widows" thread just to get me to pay more attention to her. Sometimes I start a PM to jlhurie asking him to limit my log-in to specific hours so I can get some work done, then in a fit, back off and chicken out.

There. I feel better. Now let's see who's posted in the last minute and a half...

:wacko::smile:

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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There is absolutely nothing I could say here that isn't said in a better thought out, wittier, more insightful way, than this passage from Jeffrey Steingarten (who is certainly obsessed with food):

We passionate eaters elevate, we ennoble the bestial impulse to feed into a sublime activity, into an art, the art of eating. And some of us create what might even be called literature whle we're at it. We transmute what animals do into what the angels would do if angels ate food, which I don't think they do, at least not in their official capacity. This is what Freud called sublimation, the highest form of impulse control. Yes, Doctor, I plead guilty to an obsession with beauty, edible or otherwise. I am guilty as charged!

And, once we have turned eating into an art, and we see that it is good, then we practice this art as often as possible. And if, on occasion, an observer sees what appears to be nothing nobler than me wrestling with the wrapper on a giant package of miniature Fun Size MIlky Way bars, this too is the art of eating. For isn't art nothing more nor less than whatever an artist does?

That pretty much sums up my feelings :biggrin: oh, yes, buy the book from Amazon, of course, entitled Consuming Passions by Michael Lee West ... you won't feel so alone ... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The only person who has ever actually accused me of being *obsessed* with food was my ex-wife, who included my relatives in the bargain, as a parting shot:

"...and your whole f***ing family is totally obsessed with food!"

(She didn't seem to mind it so much all those years when I was cooking for her. On the other hand, she grew up in a house where "cooking" meant taking something out of a can and heating it up, so given her deprived background, it's not so surprising that She Just Didn't Understand.)

Heh.

The current wife, and my friends, tend to view my foodie tendencies as a Charming Idiosyncrasy, or at least that's what they tell me to my face. They reap the benefits of my "obsession" on a regular basis--the search for better and better flavors, textures and combinations. all of which winds up being plated up and served to them at some point. I am also the "go-to" guy in my circle of friends for restaurant recommendations.

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

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On the other hand, she grew up in a house where "cooking" meant taking something out of a can and heating it up, so given her deprived background, it's not so surprising

My long lost sister reunited with me after so many years??? Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles?? :biggrin:

Or is it even halfway possible, that there are sooooo many of "us" out there, who grew up on Swansons TV Dinners, that we are now totally obsessed with food as a result?? :rolleyes: food, and my passion for it, is my raison d'etre for living ....

In all confidence, I still can't pass the frozen food section of my local grocery and not feel a gut-wrenching twinge of "noshtalgia" when I see those boxes of Swansons .... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Obsessed with food? No. It is just that food is such a good starting point for so many other things that I have an interest in. I think I was born with an intense, and sometimes maddening, curiosity. I drove my parents absolutely nuts. Luckily, they were avid cooks, gardeners, fishermen, beachcombers, botany freaks, whatever. So they were able to channel my curiosity in many different directions. Food was just one of them and the one you hear about here. When you think of how food can be used as a starting point for exploration of many areas of science, history, other cultures... well, the interest is natural. I mean... You gotta eat. On top of that, as I was growing up, the kitchen is where the family came together. I am one lucky puppy and the good news is, I know it.

Like bloviatrix, I really don't eat all that much. I do enjoy it, but it is not the all consuming end. It is the process that I revel in. I can do a frenetic happy dance for a perfectly executed gumbo. Then eat just about a half a cup of it. Maybe that is why I am more into cooking than restaurant dining.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I also have friends who think I'm crazy. They call me Suzy Homemaker, which personally I find insulting.

i get that too - or martha stewart...as in, i'm much more obsessive than i need to be. it is insulting - but in my case - the truth has bite.

case in point - my bf's parents and aunt and uncle stayed with us for the last 2 nights. the night they arrived it was hot so we ate out. last night i offered to cook. there are vegetarian issues and food adventuresomeness issues (they're all english - and not particularly adventuresome). i spoke with rob (bf) on the phone as i was leaving work and got the request for penne with tomato sauce. 5:15pm. i get to the store at 6:15pm and find myself absolutely unable to just buy a f*cking jar of sauce. i'm struggling with bitterness because i know i can't add seafood b/c of the vegetarian, can't add many (if any) veggies b/c of the pickiness issues. i decide to make a sicilian-style tomato sauce with mint and topped with ricotta and pecorino and then serve cheese and fruit. i'm pleased. so i buy 6 pounds of tomatoes (7pm) and sail home - totally high that i've worked out the issue of how to make something i think of as boring into something acceptably plain, but still exotic and start to roast the tomatoes. rob's family meanwhile certainly feels odd, and possibly feels guilty - i come straight home from work and start to cook. the ladies cluck...we eat around 8:15 or so.

as we're getting into bed rob says - you know...that was delicious, but they would have been happy with a crappy jar of sauce. i felt a little ridiculous for exposing these poor hungry people to my weirdness. they ate well - and serving my guests well is a very important part of being a hostess in my opinion - but what was the point? it wasn't that i was trying to impress them (this wouldn't be the way) it was more like i couldn't help it. i really couldn't buy a jar of sauce.

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Yeah. I'm obsessed with food. Luckily for me, My SO is exceedingly indulgent. I'm smart enough to know better than to try and drag him on my shopping escapades. Its a his thing/my thing thing. I go shop at 15 different little ethnic stores, he stays home and mans the computer. I don't henpeck him about his obsession, he doesnt rile me about mine. He doesn't try and make me partake of his, and vice versa. We both reap the benifits. He is picky to a certain degree yet still adventursome. He likes different ethnic foods, with some boundaries. I'm free to shop to my heart's content so long as I dont ask him to come along, and so long as theres dinner on the table later. :rolleyes:

Most of my friends are also foodies so it seems the norm, rather than the exception. I do understand that my.... obsession could have and likely does have ramifications on my health. I'm trying to find that ever-so-elusive balance. It, like me, is a work in progress. :raz:

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Aren't all egulleteers obsessed with food? Why else would we spend so much time here living vicariously through others' adventures and sharing our own?

My food obsession has shifted from just eating good food to preparing it as well. My husband still asks "Who are you?" as I read new recipes out loud to him and continue to fill the kitchen with new gadgets and more pots. I'm truly dissappointed when he wants to eat out instead of allowing me to cook. I'll have to retire that magnet on my refrigerator that says "My favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations."

Between egullet, Fine Cooking magazine and the opening of Wegmans nearby, my life has changed and I can truly say I am a better person for it. :biggrin:

KathyM

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I'm Cantonese. We're all obsessed with food.

Jewish ... same idea ... :laugh:

My parents spent last shabbat with us. Our topic of conversation for the entire length of dinner (which lasted 3 hours) on Friday night was food.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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My parents spent last shabbat with us. Our topic of conversation for the entire length of dinner (which lasted 3 hours) on Friday night was food.

What?? No loshen hora (gossip) about the relatives?? :shock: Oy!! I am shocked ... sure you are Jewish?? :laugh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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my earliest memories are of food.

food food food.

the creation, the catagoriazation, the intellectualization, heh, I can not rest untill I have plotted out how and when I will discover NYC's best [insert irrational obsession of the moment].

food is my greatest love and it is my greatest source of constant pain and anguish (constant vigilance--it actually goes way beyond that. but then we'd have to start the OA thread on egullet)

I grew up in the restaurant business, I would eat anything from the moment i left my mah's teat...

its a family obsession (well, my parents did own restaurants), we love to cook together, we drink alot and cook crazy meals and do our crazy family thing , we throw the best parties because there is an excess of outrageous food and drink...you have to get em drunk and stuffed! Of course the parties are in the best err "taste" while being completely uhm "unpretentious"....

my friend's love my food, and I love to feed them, they think i'm nuts but they never mind when I take them to the craziest hole in the walls and introduce them to wild ass yumminess...

I'm a designer and sometimes the blocks and the pressure i put on myself creatively are too much to bear, but cooking is the single creative outlet I have that is free from my outrageous personal critic--maybe because I learned a bit from my mother who was incredibly experimental in the kitchen (though i taught my self to cook for the most part) it is relaxing. and furthermore, i love to eat...have i mentioned that yet..

I LOVE TO EAT THINGS THAT TASTE SO GOOD YOU WANT TO DIE

i love art of all kinds + when I come accross a breathtaking piece of jewelry (i studied metalsmithing for a while and it is still a huge passion) that really is so amazing i also want to jump for joy and posess it, but then of course i never will...

and the amount of effort it takes to produce something beautiful fyi-i'm in textile design now(and 1out of every 50 pieces will have that effect on me, where Ill be like, yowzahs, i've done it!) whereby in the kitchen. its not THAT infrequent...and its quick...and its new and fresh...

and its foooooood!

as always, I digress, Is it wrong to love so much? Isn't that always the question....well for me at least...i guess my main problem especially and i hesitate to say this, is that often because I am rather zaftig, I feel unfeminine speaking of this topic with strangers...

Edited by ninadora (log)
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i really couldn't buy a jar of sauce.

Years ago when celebrity branded foods became popular (the "Newman's Own" thing), some large food company test marketed a "Sinatra's Marinara sauce", named after 'Ol Blue Eyes. The test marketing was done in the North Jersey Hoboken area and it totally flopped. Comments from the pundits after the fact (which have more than a bit of truth) were that they forgot about the Italian-American 11th Commandment (or substitute eGulleteer): Thou shalt not buy sauce in a jar.

Food just wasn't a big deal in my household growing up. My mom was concerned about making sure we got the basic food groups and made damn sure we ate everything on the plate but apart from that there was no real focus on or discussion of food. It was just sustenance to be enjoyed as a shared family activity but we almost never ate out and there was no sense of adventure or passion related to eating, cooking or dining.

I see significant differences between passion, obsession and "problem". I'm no stranger to the issues and consequences surrounding addictive behavior :rolleyes: . Having that perspective has enabled me to assess whether my... ahem... less self-destructive interests and passions are good, bad or in between. My criteria... which works for me... perhaps not for anyone else... is as follows:

  • Does this passion take up space in my head such I'm often unable to think about other things when I need to?
  • Is it interfering with my family and other personal relationships?
  • Has it cause health related problems or financial hardships?
  • Does it interfere with my "real job"?
  • Does it cause a real problem in any area of my life?

The last question on the list is the one that matters to me the most - it encompasses all others. At various times my passions/obsessions have included skiing, music, audio taping (of live music performances), scuba diving, travel, coffee/espresso and food/dining/cooking. The answer to all of the questions above is a resounding no for me when applied to my interest in food, cooking and dining. It's actually to the contrary. I've learned to eat better at home for the same amount of money I spent before, eat out less often (because the food is so much better at home) and even have an excuse to get women into my house to be unwitting victims of my seductive culinary practices (Note: it's officially just one woman now, she's coming into town tonight for a four day stay and you should not expect to see me on-line until she departs :biggrin: )

At various times my friends and relatives have thought that I was a bit crazy by virtue of how deeply I have thrown myself into these things but unlike some other.... obsessions.... that I've had in previous years, these have all enhanced rather than interfered with my life.

I probably think about and discuss food far more often than the average person but it's never been a problem. I shared with several friends the link to the foodblog I did here on eG and they just didn't "get it". Not an issue - most of them are more than willing to try just about anything I whip up in the kitchen at home and occasionally even let me drag them to try cuisines they have not yet experienced. Despite that, apart from the occasional person I'd meet in the course of business travel, none of my friends or acquaintances have ever been interested enough in food and cooking to share more than a casual conversation about it.

What a revelation it has been to discover eGullet and find myself welcomed so readily by a friendly, well-informed and tolerant (for the most part :wink: ) community. I can honestly state that the experience has enhanced my life and continues to do so. May all my obsessions in the future be so productive. I can only hope so.

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Most people think I am obsessed and nutty about food. But they eat processed crap all day and don't know what they are missing.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I LOVE TO EAT THINGS THAT TASTE SO GOOD YOU WANT TO DIE

Me too.

A good friend, someone I like to cook with, observes that cooking and eating are very intimate acts. When we're having an "on" night in the kitchen, we can make things that will cause people to make noises of appreciation that ordinarily they would never make, at least with their clothes on.

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

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When we're having an "on" night in the kitchen, we can make things that will cause people to make noises of appreciation that ordinarily they would never make, at least with their clothes on.

One of my former GF's noticed that when I eat a really good creme brulee, I usually have an expression on my face and that matches one I have during other more private moments. I admitted that my toes even curl a bit when creme brulee is present and the gig was up - I was found out. For the record - I make far less noise eating creme brulee. It's TMI but I can say that among friends, right?

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What a revelation it has been to discover eGulelt and find myself welcomed so readily by a friendly, well-informed and tolerant (for the most part  ) community. I can honestly state that the expereince has enhanced my life and continues to do so. May all my obsessions in the future be so productive. I can only hope so.

BRAVOOOOO! :biggrin:

Hip, hip....

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Do you think this thread falls under the category of "preaching to the choir"?? :biggrin::laugh::smile:

Passion is a wonderful thing. Passion you can share with your friends and family is even better. What better way to say: "I love you", "Feel better", "I'm glad to see you"...etc. than with food? I wear my obssession badge with pride. :wub:

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Aren't all egulleteers obsessed with food?  Why else would we spend so much time here living vicariously through others' adventures and sharing our own?

um-something has been on my mind for a while.a looong time ago,i read a sci-fi story about two children who as winners of a writing competition i think ,won a trip to a beautiful but strangely disturbing place where they could order and eat every wonderful food they could possibly imagine but always watched every step of the way by some of their mysterious' hosts'.they were asked to describe every nuance and sensation and their descriptions were met with laser keen scrutiny accompanied by barely surpressed sighs of satisfaction. turns out they were abducted albeit gently by aliens with no sense of smell or taste and who were living vicariously through the soon to be replaced( fatigued,unhinged and therefore dispensible)children. :unsure:

and another thing-what happened to

rtrh

grfyyjj.............

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