Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

March 10, 2008

My story of food - I

This week Michael Pollan, Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and most recently In Defense of Food, will be in Salt Lake City to speak on… surprise… food. Or more to the point, what we eat and how we eat it. I bought a ticket to see him, (I have to admit that $10.00 is very reasonable I think.) and am looking forward to it very much. For any of you in Salt Lake area, he was also interviewed live on KUER this morning on the RadioWest show. I’m didn't get this post up in time for anyone to get to the interview in time to hear it, but you should be able to access the recorded show HERE, I have no doubt it will be on some interest to many of you.
I thought since I’ll no doubt be thinking quite a bit about food this week, not to mention trying to finish In Defense of Food (which I’ve been whittling away at since the beginning of the year) before the lecture, that I would spend the next couple of days focusing on the story of food in my life. It’s not a fantastic voyage mind you, and I’m no Michael Pollan, but I think it’s good to look back to gain perspective and if nothing else to define the road we’re on and where we think it’s going.

Earliest Memories
My earliest memories of food are both vague and distinct at the same time. My Mother grew up in Sweden and I was born there. Though I came to the U.S. when I was only two months old many of the foods we ate came from that tradition. My Fathers family was Spanish, French and American Indian and their foods reflected the southwest diet roots where they had come from; beans, tortillas, chiles etc. Quite a range huh? It made for some pretty interesting eating.
I remember "pit i pana"; I don't know if I'm spelling it correctly, but it's pronounced Pitt-E-Punna, and I would guess it probably means something like "whatever the heck happens to be in the refrigerator". My mom would make it once and a while and I always remember loving it. Fried, sliced potatoes with some fried ham or hotdogs, sliced beets and I'm sure some other things I'm forgetting, then add a couple of fried eggs on top for good measure. Almost like a skillet breakfast, but with beets. Of course there were the obligatory swedish meatballs and pancakes, but one of the things I remember most was her "Mexican Food". I quote that name, because that was and is what the food was known as. It was basically an enchilada in that it was a flour tortilla with the red sauce, but it had ground beef, scrambled eggs, cheese and black olives inside. I have no idea where she got the recipe, but it's still a must eat whenever moms around.
My Grandparents also left some major impressions while I grew up. I remember my Morfar (Swedish for Mothers Father.) sitting at the kitchen table eating potatoes that he grew. Every meal, breakfast lunch or dinner, seemed to include small new potatoes that he would hold on his fork and deftly peel with a knife and his thumb. He had two gardens as I remember, one at home and one at the summer house both with nothing but potatoes, or at least it seemed that way. Fish was important too. He spoke little to no english and I spoke as much Swedish, but we both spoke fish. My Grandma, on my fathers side, set the standard when I was a kid for homemade torillas, beans and chile. She also introduced me to homemade bread, and a dish called SOS or S**t on the Shingle. I was about 6 so I just called it poop on the shingle and wouldn't eat it, just to be safe. Grandpa left his mark around the same age, when he let me watch as he slaughtered a goat. It was something I've never forgotten it, and have forever had an appreciation of where our food comes from.
I guess you could say I really never had a choice when it came to having an appreciation for food, although my sister did a pretty good job of it when she was young. In addition to my family, I had friends who were Iranian, Jewish, German; all of whom shared their traditions with me as well. All of this went into making my pallete what it is. It gave me a love for food, and a cursory appreciation for what it took to produce it. From there I was on my own, I left home at 18, was married and supporting a family by 20, and food changed to a much different role. More on that path tomorrow.

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