My biggest goal with this website is to explore relationships in any form relating to my life. This post will be about food. I feel I don't have the best relationship when it comes to the plates in front of me nor the recipes I choose and I want to improve on that. I recently had a conversation with my friend, Chloe, a trending Instagrammer and who I admire for her food-wisdom and for her stellar foodtography. Yeah, it's a word. No really. Google it.
Here's our conversation:
Can you recall the moment when you realized food was a great impact in your life?
CF: That’s a great first question. I have a great relationship with food because of my parents and my family. My mom is one of five kids and of their siblings they have their kids and when we get together for holidays we have about 25 to 30 people dining together. So food to me is family. It’s not about the taste; it’s about comfort and the warm feeling you get from family and the atmosphere. And community. That’s become a great part of my life over the past year or so.
BA: Food also has been that kind of comfort in my life, around family, bringing people to the table. Not just at holidays but at any time. At the table you create an intimate atmosphere and you’re trying to learn who people are.
How does food influence your creativity?
CF: I have always been a very analytical person. I find that I don’t have the creativity that my mom or my sister does. I don’t consider myself an artsy person. I’m very rigid, inside-the-box type. Food for me has inspired a lot of creativity because it forces you to get creative with spices. Not all ovens work wonderfully, so if the recipe says 400 degrees for 20 minutes and it doesn’t work out, you have to get creative. What can I do in order to make my resources work for me?
BA: That’s a place that I struggle a lot.
CF: I feel like I should be a great baker. I can’t get creative with baking. If it says you need a cup of flour, you need a cup of flour. There is no going outside of that recipe. I’m terrible at baking and I don’t know what it is about it. Cooking for me really inspires that creativity. You can’t mix all spices together. It doesn’t work. You really need to know what balances out other things, like what might go well with different textures and also with photography, too.
BA: You are immensely creative when you post on your Instagram account. A lot of the shots I would never have thought of. Like, a cup of coffee, if you take a picture of it right in the center, yeah, but it if you do it from the top, it invites that creativity. And then “Wow, that looks amazing! I wanna drink that!”
CF: And it’s an art, too. You can have a really ugly cup of coffee. It inspires creativity in other people, too.
In your opinion, what does food teach us about life?
CF: It teaches us to be flexible. It teaches us to be adventurous. I really have made an effort in the last 5-10 years to try things that I normally wouldn’t have tried. Up until 5 years ago, I hated tomatoes. Absolutely hated them. Hated mushrooms, absolutely. And now I love them. Just because you tried a mushroom one time, doesn’t mean it’ll taste the same the next time. To have that flexibility to say, “Well maybe I should give it another try.” or “This looks a little weird and slimy but it still might taste amazing.”
BA: That’s how I feel with cauliflower.
CF: Oh my god, you’re missing out.
BA: Yeah, right. (we both laugh)
What lessons have you learned so far?
CF: To be patient. Not everything turns out the way you think it will. I think that’s the same with food and everything else in life.
BA: How about the lessons you’ve learned with posting on your Instagram account? Your account has exploded as far as followers in the last year, year and a half. Any lessons from that?
CF: I think one the biggest lessons for me is that even though something was really good or you went to a place that you hadn’t been to before and you were really excited about it and the lighting was terrible and you decide not don’t post the picture. I feel like I used to do that a lot. I’m still guilty of it to a certain extent. I have tried to be a little more conscious about that.
What gives you the most joy from this experience being well-followed on Instagram?
CF: The sense of community. I have met some really cool people. They are interesting. They are from every religion or ethnic background. It’s such a diverse group of people. I make an effort to go out to small businesses, those places that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s not just about eating and drinking; it’s about that sense of community and belonging. All the people I’ve met are genuinely nice regardless if we have anything in common. We all have food in common. We don’t necessarily need to be best friends outside of this but we know that when we do meet up we have that one thing in common.
What is the best dish you ever ate? Where? Why was it the best?
CF: I don’t think I can answer that one. I’ve had some really good food, but I am a very indecisive person. Very, very, very indecisive. And I really don’t think I can pinpoint it. Anything that’s home-cooked by my mom or my grandma. To me even though it’s not the best thing I have ever eaten, it will feel like it’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten. A particular restaurant? Meh. I’ve just had some really good food. I mean, you can’t compare Indian food to pizza.
BA: You can’t compare a grilled cheese sandwich to a steak dinner.
CF: Yeah. It’s not apples to apples. Although, I do like Curry On Crust because they serve two of my favorite things. Anything with curry is my favorite dish.
I feel like I don’t have a very good relationship with food. I can cook, but I don’t really enjoy it. I will eat so I won’t be hungry. Sometimes I don’t enjoy what I’m eating even though I know that I like the ingredients and the taste. How can we have a better connection to food?
CF: I think associating it with something that reminds you of a good time in your life. I will eat roasted carrots and reminds me of a dish my mom makes. Associating with a time, place or person, it helps me enjoy it a little bit more. I also enjoy trying new recipes. I think that’s really important. That’s what got me started. Pinterest. You’re trying all these new recipes and people are responding with, “Are these recipes actually any good?” That’s the majority of what I was using Pinterest for. I would post a few of my dishes that I made based off someone else’s recipe. Not necessarily a review, but I would post a picture and say I made it. I think it’s really important to get creative and to not get stuck in eating the same thing over and over and over again.
BA: That’s what my problem is. I get lazy. But I will think about my meals for the week and think, “Oh I haven’t had Mexican food for a while.” and I’ll pull out some chicken recipes. Since I’ve joined Pinterest, I have found a ton of recipes for everything. I absolutely love chicken and know I need to get more creative.
CF: To me, I’m such a saucy person. And that’s the only way I think I can be a good vegetarian. Eating tofu slathered in some kind of sauce. Really mixing it up makes eating more interesting. Or if I’m thinking, “I have these ten ingredients in my fridge and I really need to use them all. I don’t want to go grocery shopping. What can I make?” It doesn’t have to be a meal where you throw it all together. It could be a side for something.
Complete this sentence:
I am the happiest when…
CF: Around family when it usually involves eating.
My favorite vegetable is…
CF: That’s a hard one. I like a good variety of vegetables. For a while it was zucchini and summer squash. Those are big favorites of mine. A couple of years ago, I think I OD’d on them. I just ate so many of them because they are so easy to grow and they are really cheap at the farmers market. Carrots.