Happy New Yeeeaar!!!
My first post this year it’s about food… “ranting” about food. I think it’s a good way to start the year. Reassessing what is what and setting new goals.. ’cause that is what you have to do in January…every January. This being a food blog, the question remains: what should we / what shouldn’t we eat? If you fill pickles with brie cheese and then fry them, is that healthy? Should we care if fried pickles are healthy?
I planned this post a couple of months ago, when the news about processed meats came out. By the way: Thank you, Captain Obvious! Of course, I just saved the link and that was that…and then January came with it all the usual articles about what will be trendy this year in food and what diets were trendy last year. On top of that, this year we have the official dietary recommendations for 2016 (more here and here). And so 2016 it’s the year we’re advised, for the first time apparently, to cut down on that sugar. Fat is no longer the cause of all evils, at least not the only one. Is it still flash news that sugar is bad-bad-bad?! Do we need an official recommendation against it? Well, I guess it’s easy for me to answer since I grow up in a different kitchen, so to speak.
America for me was first of all a change of perspective on FOOD. It was a forced change. Our first purchase from a nearby Winn Dixie was a bottle of Florida orange juice, eggs for the next day breakfast, toilet paper, turkey ham, bread and Haagen-Dazs ice-cream. Next day, our first breakfast in the land of opportunities was… sweet, unintentionally… very sweet!
I grew up in a traditional household, meaning my mom “cooked liked a jerk” for the rest of us jerks. We barely ever ate out. Our meals were focused on recipes that my mother learned from my grandma. Mom is a good cook, most women in Romania were good cooks at that time, but experimenting was not really part of the cooking culture. In all fairness, Romania was just exiting the dreadful communist era… most Romanian families went to bed having job security and a roof over their heads and woke up to “freedom of speech”, an abstract notion which felt more like chaos, hunger and fear. Basically women were concerned with feeding their families, and testing new dishes was viewed mostly as a potential waste of ingredients. Besides, there was no Pinterest and food blogs back then! I remember my mom’s first meat pasta following my directions… a fiasco!
That being said, sweet meats and sweet sauces not meant for some kind of dessert were not a thing we were familiar with. And you know what? Dessert was for special occasions! Homemade! Needless to say, sweet turkey ham was strange to us and of course, we didn’t like it. The bread was almost like a cake, fluffy and sweet. We were used to thicker breads which were salty, not sweet. That is the long story made short of how I started cooking and reading labels for hours in supermarkets.
I didn’t like the American food, because I was used to something else! Taste is, like most things in life, educated, acquired. If your ham has always been sweet, that’s how you like it! I don’t think we have pizza and Oreo’s in our DNA, but we do have a fatal attraction to sweetness and starchy carbs. Our taste-buds declare war to our thighs early on and sometimes it might feel like war against our all body. I like to believe it’s all just in my brain, though. All you need to do it is set your brain on what to like and what to dislike, ’cause we’re rational creatures like that! I’m joking; I can’t stay away from chocolate either! Maybe we should be told, officially, that something is bad for us, like a wake-up call. More so, if that something is an ingredient overused in almost every type of food nowadays, the main taste our kids grow up with.
I used to say that what I don’t know cannot hurt me. I take that back. I want to know what is in my food, because I need to know! Maybe I won’t care if fried pickles are healthy, after I realized that they can’t be healthy, and I might decide to try them anyways. I don’t want to live to be 100 and to think about all the ice-cream I did not eat, but I also don’t want to have to deal with health problems that I can avoid. 2016 will be a year of ups and downs, like all years, but I’ll try to make it as healthy as possible… and bake some cakes from time to time.