My Life in Food
Food is one of the most powerful forces known to man. Our lives depend on it, and at times our entire world seems to revolve around it. Food not only provides nourishment for our bodies and souls, but it can also bring people together, display love, and boost moods. Think back to some of your happiest memories- more than likely, many of them include food. Remember decorating holiday cookies with your family? Slurping on neon popsicles by the pool with your friends during a leisurely summer? Gulping down sugary sports drinks after winning the big game? Birthday cakes? Family dinners? The foods we eat shape who we are, and usually say something about us as individuals. Every state, every country, and every culture has different traditional dishes that are passed down from generation to generation. Our diversity is what makes us special, and our meals are not the exception to that.
I was born into a world filled with shrimp, oranges, and Key lime pie. Florida, or the “Sunshine State,” welcomed me into the universe with an array of colorful, tropical foods to stimulate my brand-new palate. Not too long after my birth, my family relocated to Indiana, and later, Illinois. The Midwest offered a whole new realm of culinary delights; from deep-dish pizza slathered in tomato sauce and stuffed with gooey cheese to Chicago-style hot dogs slathered with copious amounts of mustard, onions, peppers, and relish. The food that had the most impact on my life, however, would be that of Massachusetts, which I consider to be my true home. My every lunch as a child consisted of a “Fluffernutter,” the official state sandwich of Massachusetts. This gastronomic masterpiece includes salty peanut butter and sweet marshmallow creme spread thickly between two slices of soft white bread, resulting in an explosion of terrific tastes and textures for your taste buds. Seafood also played a major role in my diet while living in Boston- lobster rolls, fried clams, and clam “chowda” galore. I grew up calling milkshakes “frappes,” sub sandwiches “grinders” and sprinkles “jimmies.” What I miss the most food-wise about New England, though, is the scrumptious, authentic Italian food from the North End (Olive Garden just can’t compare). Originating in Sicily, the cannoli, which consists of a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet ricotta cheese mixture, is still my absolute favorite food to this day.
My family is originally from Ireland, so traditional cuisine such as shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread, and Irish stew commonly made an appearance in our kitchen. Eating the foods that my family has eaten for generations makes me feel more connected to my heritage. I will forever cherish the memories of bonding with my father while preparing a bowl of my great-grandmother’s famous garlic mashed potatoes. Now that I live in Georgia, I have had the chance to experience many southern works of culinary art. Biscuits and gravy, collard greens, peaches, sweet tea, and grits have slowly but surely infiltrated my diet, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Your favorite foods are part of your own unique story, and every meal you’ve ever made has meaning behind it. Food connects us all- we crave it, covet it, and cherish it. Each and every different place on earth includes a distinctive culinary experience the shapes our perception of those places. As I have learned from my moves and my travels, each meal should be a joyful, memorable event that brings us closer to the ones we love. Bonding over food is the best way to get to know people, as a person’s culinary decisions can tell a lot about who they are and where they have been.