For me, the purpose of food is not just to fill my stomach or satisfy my taste buds, or to provide fuel for my body. Food has a higher purpose in my life. For me, food brings the people i love and care about together, food eases pain, it unifies world cultures and it defines who I am.
In my Spanish/Italian household, food is medicine, fight a fever with pastina soup; it is therapy, consolation with churros; it is a celebration of life, the 4th of July; and it is everywhere. Food is to be consumed even when I claim to not be hungry at a family function. Somehow, someone persuades me to eat a couple heaping platefuls of pasta, paella, meat or vegetables. Time is not measured by a clock; instead it is measured by the time is takes to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is never a wrong time to eat. Anytime is snack time.
When guests arrive to visit, the first question out of any family member’s mouth is “Are you hungry?” Not that it matters because although a guest’s luggage is barely through the door, a six course meal of leftovers is on the kitchen counter waiting for them.
Written recipes dont exist at my house. For example when I attempted to learn how to prepare my grandmother’s pasta with Italian tuna, these were her instructions: Boil some pasta (translation: 1lb), open up a can of tuna (translation: a 6 oz. can of Progresso Italian Tuna in Olive Oil), add some salt and pepper (translation: I haven’t figured it out yet), saute some garlic (translation: at least one colve), dont under cook the pasta, but dont overcook it either, (translation: al dente is preferred, musy is unacceptable). My pasta dish tasted like soggy noodles with Bumble Bee Tuna thrown on top.
Food does not discriminate in my household, whether there has been a death or a birth, food is part of every occasion and milestone in my life.
When I lost my dog in January, 2007 to cancer, I soothed my sadness by eating. As i ate my favorite foods, (pasta, chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes) it seemed as though Bradee was still with me, sitting underneath my feet, wagging her tail against the bottom of my kitchen counter waiting for scraps.
The 4th of JJuly is just around the corner, and I know I will be surrounded by family, good friends, and food family. Not only will I have the good old American favorites like hotdogs, hamburgers, and coleslaw, I will also have stuffed artichokes, fried zucchini, tortilla, and paella, beacuse the only way to celebrate America’s birthday is with Spanish and Italian cooking.
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