A few weeks ago one of my clients called to tell me how much she enjoyed reading my last blog post (Thanks, Katie!). As we chatted, she asked me a big question: what is my long term vision as a health writer and recipe developer? I appreciated her compliment….and it really got me thinking!
You might wonder if this is a question that I have asked myself over the 17-years I’ve been practicing nutrition and writing newsletters. To some extent I have asked myself some questions—do I want to write a cookbook, resume teaching cooking classes, or create online classes and workshops? But to a larger extent, I can honestly say that I have no bigger goals at the moment for this part of the work that I do. And if you know me at all, you’d probably agree that “no goals” is pretty uncharacteristic of me!
While pondering Katie’s question, I realized that I simply write and share each month as a form of expression, creativity, and as an offering. I also recognized that to some extent, my interest in feeding people and showcasing the beauty of food is something that is shared by many of the members of my family.
I don’t remember a lot about my maternal grandmother, who passed away when I was nine, but every memory I have is of her tiny kitchen and around her large dining room table in the Washington Heights Apartment where my mom grew up. Whenever we would go into the city to visit, the table was laid out like a banquet. There was always enough food for twenty, despite that we were a family of five coming for an afternoon visit.
When I visited my father’s parents in Florida, I was always told that I needed to eat more—and have dessert. (“You are too skinny!”) I remember the pleasure that both my grandparents took in shopping for me before I arrived, cooking for me, and feeding me.
For much of my childhood, my dad’s father (my grandfather, who is pictured along with his luncheonette), his brother (my great uncle) and one of his sons (my uncle) owned successful luncheonettes, restaurants, and delicatessens in New York City. I have heard the story of my parents meeting at 13-years old and how my mom would often take the subway down to the luncheonette on 93rd and Broadway when my dad was working behind the counter.
And speaking of my mom…as a child I wondered if everyone watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and thought how amazing it would be to live like that. Well, I did! When my sister, brother and I were young, my mom ran a chocolate business out of our house. She made chocolate horns of plenty for Thanksgiving, chocolate lollipops for birthday party favors, and even chocolate shaped “unspeakables” for bachelor and bridal parties. It was not uncommon to come home from school and see a variety of colored chocolates simmering on the kitchen stove. And while that business hasn’t existed for many years, my mom is still the woman who, when asked to bring dessert, will show up at your house with two or three amazing homemade cakes, pies, or treats.
Since we were kids (and still to this day) my brother gets the award for putting more time and attention on food preparation and presentation than anyone I know! He could be making a “simple” cream cheese and lox bagel yet he would treat it like a work of art; He would perfectly toast the bagel, then poke little holes in it so that the butter would not sit on the surface but will seep down into the bagel, then he’d add the cream cheese, then would break up the lox into tiny pieces and layer them around the bagel so that each bite would be consistent and flavorful. I’d usually be done eating by the time he started 🙂
My dad’s sister, my mom’s sister, and my own sister are all fantastic cooks and, each in different ways and through their unique styles, have a true passion for food, cooking, and entertaining.
So basically I am saying that I have always been surrounded by people who have loved to cook and my interest in food seemed destined to happen…
My love of food and cooking however, did not blossom early in life. I honestly don’t think that I had ever cooked for myself before I left for college—unless rewarming pizza or toasting a bagel count! (Have you caught on that we are Jewish New Yorkers?!)
However, for me, cooking evolved less out of love and pleasure like it did for my family and more out of a desire to try to heal myself. When I became very ill during my college years and I was unable to eat the foods on my college meal plan, I became inspired to learn to cook for myself.
Through this experience, I began to see my relationship with food a lot differently than I ever had before. Food became a source of strength, power, and ultimately health for me.
The kind of pleasure I once derived from food began to change and take on new meaning. Not only did I get great enjoyment from the act of cooking, but I benefited from the rewards of my foods in the long term: a strong and healthy body.
So that’s what the recipes and the pictures on our blog are there to demonstrate. When I get a picture of a beautiful and vibrant dish, it makes me almost as excited as when I capture the spirit of one of my kids in a beautiful photo. When I create a treat that my family asks for again and again, I love knowing that they enjoy it and it tastes good to them and that everything that I put in it will nourish them.
So this is what I love to do…. and I love to share it with all of you. Food is powerful. Food is delicious. Food is healing. And healthy food is beautiful and tastes amazing.
Thank you for being part of my community and letting me share with you what has always been shared with me.