I am not so picky when it comes to food, but I will talk for ten minutes about the last great burger I had and how it was on brioche with aged gruyere. Spending time with my grandparents and mom, I’ve just realized that we are a bunch of foodies. Everything is becoming clear! Of course!
But then, maybe everyone is? I mean, everyone on the planet, maybe even more so since the world of food writing opened up, and cooking on prime time became so hugely inspiring. People love to transform perhaps/otherwise mundane into a special, truly tasty thing. So we’re normal, I think…
Or is it natural that we collectively pour over Grandma’s new and ancient cook book collection? Beard, Bittman, Child, 1920s art deco delish and Moroccan tagine text. Breads and crusts, lots from Food and Wine. They are flipbooks of my grandmother’s coding, “V.G.” (very good), “next time use cilantro”, or “Ehh, not so great”. Turning pages, one finds loose dittos of Nigella’s pots de crème au chocolat or a lamb recipe, scrawled by a Greek local. We all come together and suddenly conversations about my aunt’s killer mushroom quiche recipe can fill a half-hour. I recognize each of our handwriting on these papers stuffed in books. The shelf is a portrait of cooking for a marriage, growing children, and hosting parties. This is usable art, science, and health. A foodie’s screenplay.
Is it natural to utterly pine for the juniper berries and star anise fish salting of a meal a year ago? To still dream of owning my own culinary torch, finishing Friday nights with the creamy custard and caramalized, candied lustre of crème brûlée? How about iron cookware, butcher blocks that make you hunger for lean cut of swirled beef? Or, ugh, to make my own vodka and infused oils. The list goes on…
Both my Grandma’s and my favorite places (NYC and Tokyo), it seems, are huge, high-end food affairs, namely Eataly and the Japanese depachika. (Here’s my article on the exotic place, a grand Japanese affair). When given a whole town of shopping, my mom and I spent our time smelling Tunisian cinnamon and Parisian blend spice blends.
Today Grandpa sharpened his good German knives. As he brought them over to his work space, he turned and said, “You’ve got to have good tools”. I think this is his motto for everything. Good tools, good ingredients, good hands. Good food.
Major arguments and quibbles are over the matters of coffee (roasting, grinding, spooning, and dripping), optimum ways to prep and cook the fish, and what may or may not be washed by hand. Tender conversations, the kind I’ll treasure and repeat to my children include tidbits about my Great-Grandfather, a bread baker, my Grandpa and how we began making bread as he couldn’t get his hands on any decent bread (must have been like Holsum and Wonder Bread, all those white, fluffy varieties forever banned from my home growing up).
Yes, I’d say the family has always enjoyed a certain degree of culture, no offense Ms. Boy Trap.
Ella wafts into the kitchen from the turntable in the living room while cousins laugh and chatter. “So if you go for oysters and I go for ersters”. Grandpa overseas with his particulars regarding the spinning, dressing, and tossing of greens. He’s always been proud to show us quality–the right way, which is naturally refined.
Grandma asks who else might want a cappuccino. It is all food, drink, and before you know it, happy hour. (We really, truly do happy hour here, daily). It is so fulfilling. Relaxing. Maybe being a foodie is being uptight sometimes for the anticipation of relaxing with a bowl of art in your hands. We all have our ticks and quirks, but in the end, dinner is great. Sometimes, superb.
One day I’ll get some yeast going for bread-making. I’ll make Grandma’s famous (one of us better copyright this thing soon) recipe. I’ll maybe (probably no way likely, really) be able to actualize Ms. Julia Child’s omelette flipping technique or her aspic. Some parts of cooking are a bit more realistic. Can you believe these family members of mine used to make calve’s brain? There is sophistication and there is “You probably should just go to med school. Now”. While I’ll probably never encase sausage, or kill and pluck my own chickens, I’m eager to dive-into cooking again, maybe use some of the same recipes with the “V.G.s” written in margins. And I don’t have to wait twenty years to start taking on their roles. I have my own kitchen, my own mouths to feed. My own desire to taste and try, hosting parties, and doling out soups for the sick and tired.
If this is the life–the code of foodies: to try and try and experiment and enjoy when I eat, then I’m in. This is the cozy environment, the generations of foodies, in which I belong.
Cheers & L’Chaim!
The vintage payoff called cute!