“The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.”
It’s our annual food issue! This month our writers explore lesser known ingredients and share their experiences of new food in new places. If you know me in person you know how important food is to me. I embrace the ethos that the best way to learn about a culture is through it’s food. So when I want to learn about people I ask ‘what are you eating?’
I just got back from a foodcation where I baked croissants in Paris and drank Pouilly Fume in the Loire Valley with a vintner whose family has been making wine for generations. I eased into long afternoon lunches of foie gras, leeks and red wine. Instead of post-meal siestas I took my cues from Paris’ best flaneurs and sat by the fountain in the Tuileries Garden people watching and enjoying the spectacle that is Paris.
Next I went to Delhi, India, where the chaos could not have been more different from the refined precision of Paris. I made butter chicken with chef Neha Gupta (www.saffronpalate.com) and while we made rotis we discussed what it is like to be women in business. This was especially interesting as very few women work in restaurants or hotels in India and the chance to interact with women was limited. Later in my journey, in Rishikesh, I was invited to join a home cook, Rashmi, while she prepared a feast of lentils and rice that was mouth-watering. It was an honor to be invited into her home and to participate in her everyday life.
There are many similarities between Indian and Mexican attitudes towards food as well a crossover of ingredients. Both cultures have a welcoming spirit and there is always enough to feed unexpected guests- the more the merrier. Ingredients seem to expand as you cook them and a small bag of groceries miraculously makes enough to feed a crowd.
While you may not be able to coordinate your own foodcation to Paris and India, you can have one right at home. Get together with friends, cook, explore new cuisines and new ingredients- invite the neighbors you never speak to over for paella or curry or tacos. Expand your palate and you will expand your circle of friends and knowledge of other cultures.
Happy eating and cooking!