Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Today in one of my groups the daily question was 'what is your favorite type of food?' with reference to national origin.
My response: Continental or traditional Italian.
Well-balanced healthy meals with focus placed on use of herbs, spices, veggies. Good Italian cousine allows the diner to TASTE the food itself, not just the seasonings which are meant to enhance not mask flavours. (Ever watch Mario Batalia on the Food Network?)
But beyond my response:
Food. Many types exist, favoring all preferences, all palates. My tastes are varied, and my favorites include Swedish, French, Amrican, Indian, Greek, Asian.
Despite all, I learned most from my Swedish grandmother that every style offers unique delights to enjoy and that our favorites just might be a combination of some of each, not just most of one type.
My grandmother was one of the best cooks and PRESENTERS of a meal I've ever known! Even everyday dinners unfolded over a full hour, but if they had even one guest, the meal became an Event!
To her I owe so much about appreciation for the enjoyment of a slowly savored meal in the company of friends and family enjoying a meal prepared with love... over 2-3 hours of companiable conversation and dining pleasure! Indeed, what would I know of good food if I'd never known the Swedish cooking and dining experiences provided by my grandmother's skills?!
My grandparents - a Swede and a Dane - were healthy, active, trim people who enjoyed wholesome foods. They ate meals that had many vegetables per meal. Not just meat, vegetable and a starch. My grandmother's methods - and we're talking about a woman born in the 1800's, folks! - were in keeping with Spark values!
Dinner was preceded by homemade tomato juice in a 6-oz glass, then a small salad of greens with fresh veggies from the garden in the summer. Then soup. Main course. I can't remember a dinner that did not include her coleslaw-without-mayonaise, which when company was present was served in an antique cut-crystal bowl. Even a picnic in the yard was Special.
When I think about how my own nutrional background was different than that we know is common today among children and even today's younger adults, it saddens me that so many people don't already have such experiences as fond memories to which they can strive to return... rather than create anew.
My mom didn't serve the elaborate meals, because she was a working mother. But she was an RN and school nurse/teacher whose expertise on nutrition was as solid as those times allowed. Our family benefited. My mother pointed out to my sister and me that color is important on a plate. She said to go for bright colors because 'they're healthier'. She didn't go into vitamins, but left it at that. She also reitterated my grandmother's advice that a meal must LOOK good so that it is appetizing. And that vegetables were the key ingredient toward that end.
The very concept of eating fast food never appealed to me and still grosses me out, yet so many people seem downright addicted to it. To me, fast food is food one eats when desperate. (In questionaires I answer the question "what's your favorite fast-food restaurant?" with the response: "Red Lobster"!)
Concepts of favorite foods are tied in with memories. and to me my favorite foods would mean nothing without the memories from which likenesses and comparisons spring.
Beyond favorite food types is the issue of favorite ways of enjoying those or any foods. Which is one of the keys in developing healthy lifestyles, yes?
Maybe it all traces to our roots and experience. which means.... we owe it to our children to be like my grandmother!