If there’s one thing my family can agree on, it’s that you always “gotta eat”. Whether it’s ice cream for dinner or enough pancakes to count as breakfast and lunch, on the road or snowed in, it’s rare that we miss a meal.
Growing up my dad would take us on “weekend adventures”. Me and my two brothers would squish into the backseat, Dad behind the wheel and Mom comfortably in the seat beside him. We would travel to places we’d never heard of or sometimes places we visited often. Destinations both far and near, always packing an overnight bag, “just in case”.
In Burlington, Vermont we tasted spoonfuls of Vermont’s Finest, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream straight from the factory’s freezer. On top of Mt. Sutton, in Canada, we escaped from the icy slopes and ate poutine, french fires and cheese curds smothered in steaming hot gravy. In New York City my brother ordered a “delectable” Chilean Sea Bass special…at age 7. “Mmm, I’ll have that” he said (the most expensive piece of fish he’s ever eaten to date). In Hyannis, Massachusetts, amidst the sea-salt infused air, we munched on Cape Cod Potato Chips fresh off the conveyer belt.
On my uncles farm in Connecticut I’ve helped roast a pig, hunt a deer and pluck and prepare the Thanksgiving turkeys. I’ve cracked lobsters in Maine, and slurped oysters in Welfleet, Massachusetts. Too many times to count, I’ve stood in the kitchen beside my mother adding flour and sugar to a large bowl of cookie dough, or drizzling frosting on top of tiny snowflakes, ducklings and clovers. As a result, I’m head over heals in love with food.
There’s just something special about food.
Maybe it’s the nostalgia I feel in my college apartment while defrosting a jar of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce, or the laughter and joy brought forth by a simple meal shared with friends. Maybe it’s the feeling of uncertainty and hopefully satisfaction when testing a new recipe, or the adventure of trying a new restaurant. Maybe it’s the tradition, the family favorites passed down from generation to generation, like my Nonny’s famous meatballs or my Memere’s six pas (a French term meaning “six parts”, it’s a traditional dish with six types of meat devoured by my family every Christmas day). Maybe it’s not food at all, but the company food keeps; friends coming by to visit or family invading your house once a week for Sunday Dinner. Food has the power to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. It’s a first date, an introduction, a reunion, a celebration, a tradition, and in my family, it’s a staple. While we may not always agree on what to eat, at the very least we all agree, “gotta eat!“.