on food

Food is endlessly fascinating to me. It is my strongest passion, my biggest vice, my nerdiest hobby, and my longest love.

Many of my fondest memories are associated with the tastes and scents of different dishes. One of my earliest food mems is of a four-year-old me watching my dad generously butter both sides of a piece of Wonderbread in preparation for a “Pickle Surprise.” While the name sounds pretty nasty now that I think about it, you really can’t go wrong with a classic American grilled cheese stuffed with dill pickles. Maybe the weird part was that I would drink the pickle juice straight from the jar while my dad made the sandwich. (Disclaimer: pickle juice consists mostly of salt and vinegar.)

My tastes have, of course, expanded since the days of the Pickle Surprise. I love being adventurous with food (although “adventurous” is completely relative to the culture you grow up in and the taste preferences you are born with). For me, adventurous eating means not only trying foods from many cultures, but learning how they are made, as well. This is where having friends comes in handy (I have friends!).

I am lucky enough to be able to form many of my relationships around food. It has become a way for me to connect with people on a nearly (dare I say it) spiritual level. Whether it’s through experiencing a traditional English breakfast cooked by my devastatingly British boyfriend, watching my best friend make his ultimate comfort food, congee (a garlicky, gingery Chinese rice porridge with chicken), or helping my mom bake her unbelievably delicious chocolate cake with raspberry filling and ganache, I have learned that food forms us. The process of making a meal is therapeutic in and of itself, and the sharing of that meal can go even further by teaching us something about the person who prepared it.

It comes as no surprise, then, when I say that I love to cook and eat. I travel as much as I can, and I attempt to try as many unusual foods as I can find on my journeys. My everyday eating may be a little more tame than the seven course Scandinavian meal I consumed on a trip to NYC, but I make an effort to work new ingredients into my cooking as I come across them.

I also believe strongly in making dishes as healthy as possible (without sacrificing flavor, of course). I love trying wacky “health foods” and discovering that they are actually as delicious as many fattier/ greasier/ more sinful alternatives (plus I’m a nut butter addict, so you know I’m a little crunchy). I often like to cook vegetarian and vegan dishes for healthy, divinely delicious, and environmentally low-impact meals, too.

With all this in mind, biddiekitchen is my outlet for creating and adapting recipes that have special meaning to the people I love and that are compatible with living a realistically healthy life. (By “realistically,” I mean that I won’t hesitate to throw in some butter every once in a while when I’m making a batch of cookies.) Continue reading for ways to eat adventurously and eat well–I might even come up with a new and improved Pickle Surprise.

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