When I was growing up, my parents showed their love by cooking. For my mom, it was breads, cakes, pies, and her homemade pasta sauce, each crammed full of all the additions that made her food special. Whether it was carrot-zucchini-walnut bread or our famous apple pie recipe, she always baked in a little extra love. For my dad, it was an ability to turn a seemingly empty cupboard into a filling and delicious meal. I still don’t quite know how he does it all these years later.
When I began pastry school last year, I carried these traditions with me. I’m somewhat of a rogue baker, preferring to use the recipe as a guide rather than a hard and fast rule. Sure, baking powder and baking soda need to be there in the right amounts, but if I don’t have oil, what can I substitute in and make it just as good? Unknowingly, my parents passed down the “food as love” gene to me, and I now cook and bake for friends and family with the same zeal that they shared with me. To me, eating is a chance to come together, enjoy each other’s company, and deepen bonds with those we care about. Food is critical to this mission, but the food is often merely a vehicle for conversation and community.
Looking back on my childhood, I know I was lucky; my parents were not wealthy, which back then meant that they made our meals from scratch. We had a vegetable garden in our backyard, and I can count on one hand the number of items I was allowed to eat growing up that were considered junk food. To my memory, processed foods were the expensive way to go, and my parents were being both healthy and economical by making food themselves and watching how much processed food we ate. 30 years later, the reverse is true. In order for many families to make ends meet, they must resort to fast food and processed grocery store options because they’re cheaper and easier to find.
As part of Food Day, we encourage everyone to educate themselves on food insecurity and proper nutrition, for adults and children alike. Join us as we help spread the word on child hunger, sustainable farms, and fair working conditions for farm workers.
I hope to see you in Harvard Square on October 24th as we celebrate Food Day! Check out www.harvardsquare.com to learn more.