Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Resolution Revolution

I’m sure by now that we’ve all realized, whether consciously or not, that the word ‘resolution’ is only one letter off from the word ‘revolution’.

For my purposes, the resolution def I'm using is the visual one that talks about showing an image clearly, with lots and lots of detail. As a writer, editor, and artist, I’m a superbig details person. Coupled with ‘revolution’ (which has got to be at least a close cousin of the first word), ‘a dramatic change in ideas or practice’…I think I’ve got a pretty good frame to work with for the coming year.

I want details.
I want the story behind the story.
I want the ingredients.
All of them.

It’s been said that we don’t really choose the food we like, that any favorite dish is a combination of the knowledge we have of it, the memories surrounding it, the atmosphere in which we partake of it, and the people we choose (or don’t choose) to experience it with.

While I’m not a psychological expert (although I definitely pretend to be, and read everything about psych within possible reach), I can tell you this:

When I was younger, I did not like mushrooms.
But now I do.

My mother (an uncreative cook), forced me to eat them, thinking it a shame to waste such good (and, she told me, expensive) mushroom slices on one so reticent to enjoy them. I often assured her that she need not bother, since the result was the same each and every time, but her stubborn German blood, (a severe handicap) never allowed her to quit that easily. She determined that someday, somehow, I would like mushrooms, and must have assumed my prolonged exposure to the food would, one magical moment, suddenly snap me out of repulsion.

At the mushroom-laden dinners, I picked them out of the each and every main dish, and Mother would scold me, at which point I’d offer them to her, an offer she impatiently declined. I was compelled to stay at the dining room table until into my mouth the then-graying, drying slices were deposited. Mother didn’t know they went from mouth to paper napkin to wastebasket, because I never talked when leaving the table and taking my plate to the kitchen sink. This routine was not discovered until many months later, an unfortunate event for both of us.

As an adult in my thirties, I tried the same trick at a somewhat festive birthday dinner. Disguised under a dark yet transparent sauce, what appeared to be a strip of Chicken Masala was instead, a healthy slice of Portobello mushroom. Its rubbery texture shook me, and I made the discreet attempt to transfer slice to napkin, but was caught in the act.

“Don’t you like Portobello mushrooms?”  my good friend Mona asked, stifling an amused laugh.

“Is that what that is?” I asked, relieved it wasn’t the previously suspected huge slice of chicken fat.

I bravely stabbed at another mushroom slice…and in the safety of the moment and the longtime friendship surrounding me, liked it.

I'm not a picky eater, but this story begs the question, "How many other foods that I don't currently like could I actually like?"

I haven't many dislikes. I don't like menudo. I've tried it twice and disliked it to an equal degree an equal amount of times. I don't particularly like large chunks of cooked celery. I'm not a big caramel person, either...but...could I be? What if I tweaked some things, changed it up, changed who I ate the non-favorites with, or the location of consumption, or created new memories around the food items in question, like I did with the mushrooms? What if I learned a story about the foods I don't like...and then liked them?


What are the ingredients of a favorite?

Amy's Ideas on the Ingredients of Favorite Foods:

--And many more---

For me, a details person, nitty-gritty thinking isn’t new, but this next year I’m campaigning for more depth when it comes to our meals. Whose hand stirred the pot, and why and how have they found themselves in the kitchen? Why did they go with the savory when they could have gone with the sweet? What's with the mint leaves? What messages are they trying to convey through their food? And...most especially...if we don't like something, can we change it up and then like it?

In 2014, I want to see what I’m eating more clearly, I want to engage in a ‘dramatic change of ideas or practice.’ I want...resolution.

I'll call it….the Resolution Revolution.

*No doubt I'll be doing a large portion of this sampling with my good friends and the only other two members of The Culinary Club in existence, Sarah Nash and Deb McGrath, who've also written New Year's Resolution-type blog posts of their own. (Just click on their names and you can read them, too.)

Wishing You a Tasty 2014.