Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Personal Food Culture

I am so thankful that I have a mom who likes to cook. I was lucky, growing up, to be one of the few kids that I knew who sat down and ate with their family. We ate breakfast together every morning at the kitchen table, and we ate dinner together every night. I credit my mother for a lot of things, but specific to this, eating dinner helped keep me sane. It kept me healthy. It helped me develop a good relationship with food. That table was where we talked about our days, where we talked through our problems and issues, where I associate with comfort. To this day, when I'm staying with my parents (holidays, visiting, whatever), there's just something about having a cup of coffee made for you and set in front of you with all the love a mother can give. That kitchen feels more like home to me than does any other place in my parents' house.

My sister, still in high school, baking thumbprint cookies in my parents' kitchen

My mom, making fried green tomatoes for the Fourth of July the year Mark and I got married

I didn't really learn how to cook there. I was really spoiled when I was younger, so I didn't really learn how to cook/clean/do my own laundry very well until I went off to college. That's where I started, with my mom's recipes and a willing spirit. And then, after I got married, it was something I wanted to be really good at. So I tried hard to learn to cook both the things my mom made and new things of my own, and gradually developed my own tastes and ideas and beliefs about real things and fresh things and food that makes me happy.

On fall break one year, in Hannah's family cabin, making Chicken Noodle Soup group-style

Cooking with one of my roommates in our apartment my senior year of college

Now, I have the best memories in kitchens. Because while being cooked for is fantastic, cooking with someone you love is even better. Making pizzas on Christmas eve with our whole family, baking cookies and Oreo truffles with my mom. Making her scrambled eggs with greens in them. Cooking extravagant meals and trying new things with Elissa. Experimenting with Kelly. Exchanging recipes with everyone.

Mark and Matthew doing the dishes after Elissa and I made dinner

My mom, dancing and singing with our Christmas dinner this past year.

Pizza on Christamas eve

Tab, Elissa's roommate, with the blueberry brownies we made

Kelly slicing peppers in my parents' kitchen

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker the other day. I talk about food and cooking a lot at work, because it's something I really, really love and care about. I made muffins for everybody the other morning, and she said something along the lines of "Wow, you really do like to cook." Which started this conversation. She, apparently, doesn't. She says she doesn't know how to cook, doesn't cook very well.

In Nashville: good food, good wine, good friends

 Pizza fixin's on Christmas eve

My mom making cornbread ... and having difficulties

And I always wonder... what on earth do people like that eat? How can you feed yourself if you can't cook? Does your family sit down for dinner together? Do you eat fast food all the time? It always baffles me when people say "Oh, I don't cook." I'm thankful that I really don't have any concept of that "I don't cook" statement, but what does it mean for their families and their children?

So I'm posing the question to all of you. Do you cook? If so, what do you cook? Do you sit down and eat as a family (or, if you're single, did you when you were little?) And if you don't cook ... what do you eat??


  1. That made me feel very sentimental :)

  2. love the pictures, so cute!

  3. I love to cook, most of the time. I have a million things I always fall back on like burritos and spaghetti (I know that SOUNDS boring but I assure you they are not!). My favorite dish to make for company is Pad Thai. It is so delicious and has the best presentation. I love trying new recipes too.

  4. LOVED looking at your photos and hearing your story.

    as for me--my family always ate together growing up---but i didn't enjoy cooking until recently. my mom always cooked. or i would go out with friends. i would eat anything i could grab. pb&j (which i still love, of course). a bagel. leftovers.

    but as i grew up, i became more conscious of good food. and cooking. and flavors. and assembly. and i took an interest. now i cook all the time. homemade pizza. and stir-fry. and salads. eggplant parm. and sunchoke quinoa. i'm vegetarian--so a lot of unique things gets brought to the table. and i love it!

  5. I cook and love cooking. MJ and I love to sit down and have dinner (or breakfast and lunch on weekends) together. I cook any "easy" and not so easy recipes: My mom's recipes, my mother-in-law's recipes or my own recipes. I love experimenting with food.
    However, I do not like talking about food. Don't know why... I think it's difficult (for me) to explain a recipe... Maybe that's the reason.

    P.S.: Loved this post!!

  6. Oh man, I love cooking. I love FOOD! This is a happy little post :)

    And I like to cook everything I eat...not necessarily because of health reasons (though I enjoy "healthy" food as long as it tastes good to me) but just because of the fun in it. Making up your own recipes is fun! I dislike resaurants simply because they steal my opportunities to create new meals.

    But really, I wonder the same thing you do...what on earth do they eat?!?

  7. I don't cook now, but I love to eat!!!!! These pictures make me hungry and your family looks so wonderful :)

  8. Oh, I LOVE to cook! So does my husband, thankfully. I love the challenge of creating, or learning a new recipe. Just brings satisfaction.

    I knew a family that hated to cook. They almost always ate out, got carry out, or just made simple meals. I think that would get old, but to each his own, I guess. ;-)

  9. Ha, that picture of your Mom with the chicken is hysterical!!!