Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Relationship with Food

I partially blame my obsession with food on the Italian half of my family. No, blame is not the right word. Credit. I credit the Italians with my food obsession! I have vivid memories of visiting my grandmother, the only grandparent I ever really knew, in her little house on Swansea Ave. My sisters and brother and I would wait in her living room, peeking down the bumpy hallway to watch her scurrying back and forth, preparing the meal.

I can still smell her sauce and meatballs as though it was yesterday, and no one so far in my eyes has duplicated that aroma, although some of us have come close. I can still see the way the powdery Romano would melt on top of the sauce, and hear my mother say, "That's enough, that's enough!" as I tried to get away with loading on as much as I could.

Even after Grandma moved to the apartment, visits to her home were always food occasions. After the hugs and her shy giggles, she'd immediately go to the refridgerator and fill her table up with all kinds of delicious things. We'd say, "GRAM! We can't possibly eat all that. And she'd say, "Just taste of it..."

From what I have been told, Grandma learned a lot about cooking from her mother-in-law, Stefana, a native of Termini Imerese, Sicily, who spoke not a word of English. Family members say that Stefana was well known in Syracuse circles as a fabulous cook, a wonderful confidant, and even a natural healing doctor. Her life was spent cooking and caring for people and it gave her much pleasure. Although she was gone long before I was born, I feel a real connection with her through my own grandmother and through the recipes and love of food that have been passed down.

From my great-grandmother, grandmother, and father, I have inherited that love of pleasing people by cooking for them. That is why even though I cook almost exclusively healthy food for myself and my family, I still enjoy making super rich meals and decadent desserts for special occasions. Just ask the gals I work with. I have become the dessert maker for all the birthdays and I have made desserts like chocolate cheesecake, peanut butter pie, and chocolate hazlenut cream puffs. But I just make them, I don't eat any myself (except maybe a little bite to be sure it turned out the way I wanted..).

So how did I convert to the healthy side? Growing up and into my adult years, I always struggled with my weight. I had lost and regained the same 20-30 lbs. over and over again. I'd tried all sorts of diets and exercise routines. And finally, when I reached my 40s (gulp), I gave the South Beach diet a try. It was the only diet that worked for me in the long haul. I lost weight and I kept it off. But more importantly, I felt so much better physically! It wasn't long before I stopped dieting and just completely changed how I looked at food. I no longer wanted anything in my body that was fried, processed, or unnatural. I even gave up diet soda, which was a long time habit. So now, I don't count or measure a thing. There are just things I eat, and things I don't eat. A friend of mine jokes that I don't eat anything white. And that is partially true! No sugar, white flour, white rice, white pasta.... she threatens to find something white that I will eat. But I beat her to it. It's natural coconut. YUM!

People have said to me that they could never do what I do because they love food too much. And that is just shocking to me. Because I adore food! And healthy food that is made well is incredibly delicious!

And so, most of what I post here will be food I've cooked at home for the family, and health AND taste will definitely be priorities. But you'll also occasionally see some treats and goodies that I make for special times. Look for a new recipe with my next post!


  1. Ha, I was mentioned in your Blog!!!! And yes, you beat me to it, but initially I was going to suggest that you also eat yogurt, which is white! (as mentioned in another blog) -keep up the blogging!

  2. Oh this is you, Jill? I was wondering- who is this guy named Mark who is commenting on my blog? How funny!