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From anti to pro: coming out of the foodie closet

April 19, 2010

Aerobic exercise was something I could do with relative ease but anaerobic activity was beyond me, until now. Climbing onto the stiff red case, I took a deep breath, held the count for over a minute while I used my entire upper body to pull together a set of stubborn teeth. But the teeth remained open, and given my relative lack of strength, I was yearning for a much-needed lie down.

“My dear, you have too much in that suitcase. It’s bulging at the sides.” Mum stated the obvious.

“Noooo, the bag still has plenty of room.” I panted breathlessly.

“I just have to repack it…”,  the handle started to slip from my fingers. I dropped the suitcase close to my foot.

As I unzipped the case a faint groaning sound came from inside. Almost of though the bag needed to breath from an over tightened corset.

It was a packed bag, rammed with everything I needed for the US: kilim from Turkmenistan, hand painted gold leaf Tibetan mandala, Tongan tapa cloth, Japanese lacquer bowls and a few sundry clothing items including mismatched shoes and mountain climbing boots.

Admittedly my priorities were a little shambled, but I knew these things had to travel with me this time, having spent too long boxed up in storage.

Then Mum reached into the case for a set of books I’d packed in the middle. She struggled to pick up the top book: a cookbook produced by the Australian Women’s Weekly, my food bible. Three kilos of sacred content and images designed to pour over and drool for days at a time.

She started to lament about why these books shouldn’t travel, why she needed them more than me, but then stopped short and changed tack proceeding to interrogate me.

“You don’t like cooking Cate. I’ve never seen a cook book in your home, in fact you don’t enjoy food at all. So, what’s your plan with these?”

Mothers never miss a trick, or so they claim, but she had missed this one — my growing interest in food. This was an interest that had been slowly nurtured from years of travel and until recently, remained hidden in the closet, or as foodies would say — pantry — locked up like grandmother’s secret recipes.

As most of my regular readers will have noticed, food is not a topic I write about often because food has always been perceived as fuel, and nothing more.

I can only attribute my deepening bliss for cuisine to travel. Asia’s aromatic flavourings began teasing my British trained taste buds in ways I never notice until that food was unavailable and I craved craved craved it.

Chili is no longer a foe but a much needed friend, a fiery companion in the developing relationship I have with food. It’s a common additive and condiment in my kitchen, sometimes even found in a cup of black tea along with pals ginger and honey.

by Cate

Of course New Zealand’s wild addiction to coffee and bustling café scene has also accounted for my exit from the pantry. Chefs and food writers have this uncanny ability to take something difficult and turn it around into easy-to-make-instant-success dishes.

by Cate

No longer do I picture myself being struck by lightning when I enter a kitchen. Supermarkets now seem more like a breezy afternoon excursion than a rapid express train running through aisles on a non-stop schedule. There are days where I actually want to make something in the kitchen: a batch of savoury feta and sun-dried tomato muffins, arugula pesto to go with the fresh backed ciabatta. Evening meals have become enjoyable not just for me, but for those who have to digest my food like this Thai noodle salad…

by Cate

With all the Latin American cultures alive and kicking in South Florida my next step as a neo-foodie will be to embrace these new (to me) flavours, add an experience or two of my own and create a plateful of fusion travel encounters.

But, there are limits to my food habits. Food sites and magazines will continue to remain off limits unless I need a recipe. I still cannot separate black truffles from white truffles, and risotto will always be nothing more than gluggy rice. Yes, the heathen inside me still continues, it just takes time as a fledging to develop new wings.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. April 20, 2010 4:52 pm

    Cate, will you be blogging about food then? You should! Share your neo-foodie journeys with us please!

  2. April 20, 2010 8:28 pm

    I have my limits too, just as too much of a good thing spoils the enjoyment for me. As for cookbooks and recipes, I go through phases since after a while they all start to merge into same old with different presentations.

    Congratulations on your foodie ‘coming out’ 🙂

  3. April 21, 2010 9:02 am

    Hi Jen – hows new Cairo? I hope to start blogging a little about food if my pictures turn out alright. It is much harder to shoot food than people I think. Maybe I’ll blog about my blunders in the kitchen, that could be more entertaining.

    Gourmantic – Thanks it was difficult but now I feel good about myself!!

  4. April 21, 2010 5:52 pm

    Well, even if you don’t fancy cooking you can enjoy the eating – and we can all share in it. I agree it’s much harder to get those nice magazine style food shots than some other photographs – especially in a dimly lit restaurant.

    On the packing thing, my children are now well trained in these days of increasing luggage charges – unless we’re going for more than a few days, it’s one carry on each and no more.

  5. April 22, 2010 12:07 pm

    Kids seem more intune with travelling than adults, they tend to stay focused longer while adults fluster about whether they ahve enough clothes. One carry on is my motto as well, I hate lunking bags around.

  6. April 26, 2010 4:27 pm

    I totally enjoyed reading this post!

  7. April 27, 2010 4:51 am

    I’m taking a bottle of Blair’s Death Sauce with me on my RTW trip as my chili fix. Let’s see how far into the trip it lasts before I’m dry 😉

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