At the beginning of the year I declared this to be my year of magical eating (an idea borrowed from another Paris blogger named Anne). The goal was to be more intentional with my food and the products I was consuming. To taste and not just eat; to interact with the food as well as the company. All of my travels this year centered around food, making chai and beer and wine and cheese my gateway into cultures far from my own. (And I then began researching how refugees use food to communicate for my thesis.) I’ve visited farms and worked on vineyards, eaten at two (!) Michelin-starred restaurants and had one very fancy afternoon tea, and now can say that I have roasted a Christmas chicken in a very tiny microwave-oven combo.
But what I hadn’t anticipated from this exercise was feeling shame and guilt when a meal didn’t go as planned (one night in particular left me hungry and defeated in a puddle of tears and half-crushed lentils) or not eating at times simply because I wanted to hold out until I could have that nice meal.
Setting a goal revolving around something you need to survive and do multiple times a day was really, really hard. But I did eat really, really, really well, and found myself growing more creatively in the kitchen because of it. I was inspired by my travels and work (though truthfully it is sometimes exhausting to work around, study, and literally consume food) to expand my palette, to let the ingredients inspire me instead of dousing everything in El Paso taco seasoning.* It brought me more joy to go to the market and pick up the fresh produce, and even more of a thrill when I nailed a recipe without using one (in related news, 2016 was the year I both learned how to follow and write recipes, so pas mal). By eating well, I taught myself how to cook better, too.
This year, while challenging, was certainly transformative when it comes to my food decisions and menu planning. I was able to open my (tiny, tiny) kitchen to many, something I hope to continue wherever 2017 takes me and my shiny new cocotte. I’m still mulling over ideas for my 2017 theme—any ideas? ♦
What are your goals for 2017? What was your best meal of 2016?
*If we’re being honest I still do this if it’s cold and I want Mexican soup, but I digress.