Linda Stamper Boyne: My love affair with food
Vail, CO, Colorado
I love food.
No, I mean I REALLY love food.
But not in an unhealthy way. My love for food is perfectly normal. Our relationship isn’t about filling a space left by something missing in my life or fixing a childhood trauma. I know food is not love. Enjoying something yummy just makes me happy.
I should make the distinction that I love good food. Life is too short to eat crappy food.
Think about biting into a sweet, perfectly ripe peach, that flavor, the juice springing out around your teeth and into your mouth as you cut through the flesh. Heaven! Now think about biting into one that appears to be perfect, but when you sink in your teeth, it’s mealy and dry and awful. Oh, the disappointment! And there’s nothing as sad as going out to dinner and getting a mediocre meal, or, God forbid, a bad one!
We all have our likes and dislikes, flavors we crave or detest, things we will or will not eat, but people approach food very differently. I think there are several types of eaters.
First are the High Maintenance Eaters, the ones with dietary restriction either by nature or by choice. I thank my lucky stars my body tolerates everything. The idea of having to avoid nuts or wheat or dairy because of allergies or inability to digest it — oh, the horror!
Allergies are one thing. Then there are the ‘Tarians: vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, fruitarians, and for the sake of this piece, vegan-tarians.
And the Dieters, the ones who won’t touch carbs (gasp!) or load up on protein or eat only green vegetables on Tuesday. While I respect everyone’s right to eat how they feel they need to, self-restriction is not me. A life without carbs is not one worth living.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the High Maintenance Eaters are the true omnivores, the Non-Discriminating Eaters. They will eat anything put in front of them without complaint or comment. I’m not sure they have taste buds. They’re the “eat to live” types. This class mystifies and confuses me.
The next type is the Picky Eater. Think of a Picky Eater as literally picking at the food, searching out little bites of food he or she will find inoffensive, avoiding entire sections of the food spectrum “because they’re icky.” Most Picky Eaters are under the age of 8, but I’ve seen some grow to maturity. It’s just not right.
And finally, there are the Foodies. These are my people. We are passionate about food. We get excited about a well-prepared dish or the perfect tomato. We typically eat with gusto, frequently exclaiming with full mouths, “Oh my God, this is amazing!” or “What is that spice?” We will savor a meal, dissect the food, try to figure out all the ingredients and what makes it so wonderful.
Foodies are the ones who learn to cook because we want to make ourselves good food, we want to re-create something fabulous we had at a friend’s house or try something that looked incredible on a cooking show.
We have food memory. We accrue favorites and memorable “bests”: favorite restaurants, favorite appetizers, best gelato, best burger. We have a standard dish by which we judge restaurants of a certain genre. I once worked with a man who ranked all Mexican restaurants based on their chile rellenos.
We might not remember the name of the museums or beaches we went to on vacation, but we can tell you the names of the restaurants, detail the menus and describe every dish we ate.
For Foodies, going out to a meal at a restaurant isn’t just about filling our stomachs. It’s getting to have something different, something we don’t make, something someone else does well. And it’s not only what is on the plate, but the entire experience. It’s the people you’re with or the place you are. The ambiance, the service, the company, the conversation.
To me, food is a joy, like reading a good book, enjoying a movie or having good conversation and laughing with friends. It enhances the everyday. There’s a lot tied up in each little bite.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards can be contacted through email@example.com