I was thinking earlier today about how my basic food likes, and my newer tastes, have come from different places, yet roll into one inner foodie. This may seem like an obvious statement; of course as we get older our basic palate grows into one searching for foods with more depth and flavor, which we can, and do, learn from many people and places. I find this duality of taste in my particular situation interesting because both sides of my inner hungry woman were formed by my parents (basic) and my boyfriends parents (sophisticated).
Growing up, my mom made very simple dinners; meat, bread, veggies. My mom went through a bread making phase after receiving a bread maker for Christmas one year. Everything from classic white to onion bread, she played with a somewhat foreign territory. We went from the blue Jiffy boxes of corn bread mix to something a little more upscale, for us at least. I still very much retain my simple tastes, I could eat bread and cheese, and nothing else, for every meal the rest of my life, something I most certainly learned from my mother. But, I don’t cook rice or cous cous in any sort of stock, and when I’m making a smoothie I will often use a little soy milk and the rest water and when I’m seasoning veggies, I find the simpler the better — a little salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder and I’m good.
In contrast, Ben cooks and eats much like he grew up. Both his parents cook with everything but the kitchen sink, but not to a point of fault (well, sometimes Ben does, but not his parents!). Eating with his family, as we do twice a week, has been enlightening and very tastey. Before sharing a dinner table with Ben’s wonderful family, three main things I didn’t like, which they cook everything with, were pesto (are you kidding me?! I LOVE pesto!!), onions and garlic. I had never even really tried any of these, but because they were uncharted territory on my dinner plate, I was unaware.
Because of these simple kitchen discoveries, my life as a vegetarian eater is anything but dull. I love making my own marinades based on what I’ve learned from Ben’s mom; soy sauce, maple syrup and lime juice make for a great soaking sauce for tofu. I also add garlic and onions to almost everything, from stir fries to roasted veggies, and I simply pine for fresh pesto.
Now, this is not to say that the way I grew up eating is wrong or has left me a step behind my fellow food lovers, because I still hold onto what I know and love as simple, easy and delicious. But, I appreciate the nights I’ve spent cooking with my second family. Not only have they openned my eyes to what I had been missing my whole life, but they — as I speak I am being fed zucchini bread with blueberries inside by Barb (Ben’s mom), and we are cooking homemade pizzas, which may I say my mother does VERY well; her specialty even — have taught me an entirely new culture surrounding family, the kitchen and cooking.
Some of the best times I’ve had with them revolve around preparing meals together, glass of red wine in hand, and that is something I truly want to pass onto my family when I have one.
I am thankful for the influences that have created for me a more sophisticated palate, but I also will always appreciate my food upbringing, which taught me that basic and simple is all you need to create a dish that is filling, delicious, and most of all, makes those you love happy.