There's something so raw, so primal, about our relationship to food. Though a necessity, it has also become such a source of pleasure, something so intrinsically linked to our cultures and identities. Through food we are vulnerable, we share history, tradition, emotions, and stories. Every aspect of food; smells, textures, flavours, colours, can all bring a flood of memories and feelings to the forefront of our mind. There is an innate beauty in it that's almost indescribable through words, something we can only experience.
I'm privileged to get to see food beyond its primary function of survival, but there is a misconception that good food needs to be complicated or expensive. If anything, it's the opposite. When I think of the beauty of food I think of the crunch of fresh veggies, the sweet juice from summer peaches, my Italian grandma's cooking, my father's roasted potatoes which for some reason nowhere else has cooked on-par, and the crema my mum would make every christmas. Good food comes from the earth; it's delicious in its simplicity yet maintains the possibilities of what it could become. The beauty of it lies beyond the food itself through to how we chose to use it, share it, and who we share it with.
Growing up food and the act of eating was important in my household; both my parents express their love through it, and being health conscious I was raised on a variety of fresh high quality ingredients. I couldn't be more grateful for the importance my parents placed on food. My childhood was filled with dinner parties upon dinner parties, and long summers spent in Italy. With world jazz playing in the background and a glass of red wine in hand my dad would cook up simple yet delicious dishes to share among our friends. My mum was always in charge of desserts, often I was her little helper but essentially only licked the bowls. I still do.
In the summer my grandma, an incredible cook, would share her love for us through food. Her and my dad bond over the connection they have with cooking, and our summers were filled with Italian tomatoes, crunchy peaches, sweet melon, fried zucchini flowers (my favourite dish of her's), and creamy cheeses. Italian food holds a special place in my heart, and when I think of how simple good food can be I think of my grandma and Italian cuisine.
In the past few years I have fallen in love with food and the act of eating. I think it started with Alex, not only because he is a fantastic cook with a passion for food, but also because of how I fell in love with him. I had a very distinct moment when I thought to myself that I genuinely loved this person, and it was over food and the sharing of it. We were in Umbria in Italy, up in the secluded home of a family friend of ours. That night we had a big barbecue, good quality local food with fresh salads and white wine. Sharing that meal with Alex and my family was so special for me, it reminded me of how food is such a strong way that we connect to others. I was sharing my culture and my family with him through the act of eating, the vulnerability in it connected us even more.
Then came sustainability. Because sustainable living is so linked to traditional and indigenous cultures, I feel as though when you decide to live more sustainably it is natural that your relationship to food reverts back to an older more connected one. You gain a greater appreciation for the resources and energy that went into giving you the food you now eat and, as we used to, begin to value it more. For me, sustainability also lead me on my journey towards veganism and a plant-based diet, which has changed my relationship to food drastically. I didn't really know how to cook pre-veganism and it has been so much fun learning how to do so. Veganism has truly made me enjoy cooking and eating, it's forced me to explore a lot of foods I otherwise wouldn't have and I'm incredibly grateful for it.
I've been focusing on taking my time with all activities surrounding food, and being present when preparing it. The shopping and organisation of the kitchen is my favourite household activity, and I love figuring out what's in season and trying new produce and recipes. It's easy to lose touch with the deeply imbedded connection we have to food, to see it as something very practical, to not savour it. I'm reminding myself to feel the beauty of food with every fibre of my body. Cooking and sharing food together is ritualistic, it's ancient. Food is sacred, it's the very definition of what life is all about.