Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting reacquainted

Has it really been a year since we have last “shared a meal” on this cyber-table? It’s hard to believe that the last piece I wrote was about helping to slaughter and serve a whole pig in Costa Rica. And to think one of my first articles was about being a vegetarian...

...Well I still am vegetarian (barring my carnivorous respite abroad—traveling isn’t traveling with dietary restrictions), and I’m back in good ole Los Angeles, featured city of this month’s Saveur magazine. And who is that on my couch (in the same apartment that I moved into 2 years ago—my have we come far together)? None other than my soul mate in the kitchen, my Auntie Fe! She’s here to visit and to cater a birthday party with me. Yikes! Although she is a seasoned pro at catering, this will be one of my first forays into cooking for people other than my friends and family. I am confident, of course, that we will do brilliantly—we are UNSTOPPABLE as a team in the kitchen (not to brag or anything). But I am a little...uneasy, about cooking for people that I don’t know. How can I mix in the right emotion? How can I pour in love for people I have met only twice? I am at a loss—so much of cooking, for me, is sharing something with people—like a conversation. It’s so easy to share with people I know and love: I know their tastes (food-wise and in general) and moods—I know that eggplant parmesan will taste great with a favorite wine and even better if I play that one song; or that chunky guacamole will remind him of home... I guess I’ll have to trust my intuitions on this one...more to come

But for now, let’s get caught up on what’s been going on in my food-world in our year apart. Back in LA, I have endless (and I mean ENDLESS) sources of to-die-for food. Food to eat, food to cook, food to dream about. Talk about culture shock from the sweet simplicity of Costa Rica. Farmer’s markets are always the top of my food to-do list at any given time. Luckily there is at least one good farmer’s market open EVERY DAY in LA where I can usually find Tara Kolla, an advocate for urban farms and founder of Silverlake farms, who came to speak to my Education for Sustainable Living class. And here’s the thing about farmer’s markets. Not only are they great for local businesses and organic food and helping the environment, but everything TASTES so much BETTER! And not usually more expensive than buying at Ralph’s (the one I live next to is the nation’s most expensive branch—yikes!). And if it is more expensive...what the heck, I’m saving money by not buying meat, right? If all I eat are veggies, then I’m gonna get GOOD veggies. And my cooking has never been better. I have also been trying to go out to different places—I’ve hit up some of the more “trendy” places, like Real Food Daily (a very hip vegan restaurant—I sat next to Jason Schwartzman, and Urth Caffe (great vegan chocolate cake), but I’ve gotta say, the best places are still the holes-in-the wall joints (that don’t have websites or names more clever than “Indian Cuisine”), and meals-on-wheels fruit vendors and gastro-trucks (that now roll onto campus and can be tracked by twitter).

So that’s it, for now....OK, so I’m skipping out on some bigger food adventures—but those deserve their own stories. For now I’ll say that I am still eating (A LOT) and enjoying the flavors of life with my friends and family—the best side dishes anyone could ever ask for.

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