Some women collect shoes and purses, and other women collect boyfriends or, if you’re Angelina Jolie, babies. Me, I collect recipes. Recipes and various information about food. I have around 30 cookbooks and hundreds of recipes stored away inside my computer, and I spend my “leisure reading” time on books about the history of salt, the evolution of modern Spanish cuisine and the anthropology of chocolate. When I’m not reading about food, I’m probably thinking about food, or planning food, or eating food. My friends know about my obsession, but they let it go, because it’s delicious. If only all addictions were as delicious and fruitful as mine. Get it–fruitful?
I kill me.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I have a, shall we say, slightly overactive interest in the food that I consume (and in the food that I don’t). I think more people should take an interest in what they eat and why. It’s a fascinating subject. There are years of history and circumstance behind the things that we consume and people don’t even think about it. Food is particularly important because it’s one of the main things that keeps you alive. You consume it and it helps build what you are. Granted, it is in the news more these days—there are debates about obesity in the US, organic foods, chemicals, trans-fats, corn syrup, contamination and disease, as well as nutrients, antioxidants and “miracle foods” to help stave off cancer, and this is important, because it gets us thinking about what we’re eating, where it comes from, how it affects us and what it all means. To some extent, we wonder where our food comes from—this meat is from Nebraska, that corn is from Iowa, this fruit is from Mexico–but our attention to detail often doesn’t extend any further back or out than that. We don’t wonder about the origins of the plants, or why we only have one variety of banana in America when other countries get dozens, or why grass-fed beef tastes so much better than corn-fed—that, is, if you can find grass-fed beef in your local store at all. We don’t pay attention to the fact that real strawberries are not the size of your palm or that the best-tasting veggie varieties are not usually the prettiest and we don’t experiment with non-standard produce (“I mean, jicama? What is that?”). Most people don’t think about these things. But I do. All the time, apparently.
I mean, after all, I have to eat to live. I just happen to live to eat.