It’s been an interesting year. Maybe a bit of a roller coaster ride. I’m not really sure when or where this ride ends. If you read my blog or Twitter feed, you probably know I’ve been working with Gluten-Free Girl. And if you know anything about Shauna, you know that she puts it all out there. At the closing of Blogher Food 2010 in San Francisco, it took everything in me not to start crying when Shauna spoke. (Phew, thank god Ruhlman was there to make his inspirational “cooking is important” speech, to snap me back to reality.) Around the same time as the convention, I read something in a book that really interested me. I’m paraphrasing now, and yes, this sounds a little Buddhist even though the book was anything but that — it said to put everything out there. To not hold anything back. To give everything you’ve got and leave yourself vulnerable. The idea is that by exposing everything you’ve got, you’re forced to keep moving, keep making progress, keep creating, keep learning, keep searching, keep looking… you get the idea. So if you’ve got a bucket full of something, and you dump it all out, or better yet give it all away, you might feel alone or abandoned at first. You might feel at risk. With any luck though, you’re going to put something else in that bucket. Obviously I’m not talking about “stuff.” We’ve all got too much stuff, and the holiday season reminds me of that. I’m talking more about the mind and soul.
Shauna once asked something about first food memories. I told her that’s a tough subject for me. Truth is, I’ve been saving this up for a long time at the bottom of my bucket, thinking there might be some perfect time to tell the story. My first food memory is one of my first memories, period. I try my hardest not to think about it and leave it at the bottom of the bucket.
I guess I was about four years old. My mom was divorcing my father, but I’m sure I didn’t understand what that meant at the time. I also didn’t quite understand at the time that my mother was going to marry someone else, a nice guy who would raise me like his own, and that the “adults” had decided it would be best if my sister and I didn’t see our father ever again. Hey, it was the 70s — stuff like that still happened. Maybe it still does. I don’t resent anyone for it. But like I said, I probably didn’t understand what was happening. What I do remember is sitting on a bare, hard wood floor. It must have been either the place my father was moving out of, or moving into, because it seemed empty. Sunlight was pouring in through the windows. My guess is there were no curtains. My father gave us franks and beans to eat. You know, a can of baked beans with a chopped-up hot dog in it. I loved that dish for a long time when I was a kid. The smell, taste, and texture are burned into my brain, even though I haven’t eaten it for decades now. So that’s the memory. My little sister and I, eating the franks and beans on the hard wood floor in the bright, empty NYC apartment, with our father, probably for the last time. I’m pretty sure I never saw my father again.
Thanks, Shauna, for being so inspiring in so many ways. I don’t know if you’ll read this. But I’ve told you plenty of times how special you are, so it’s no matter. I’m so glad you were a part of this crazy year of mine.