Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Kitchen on Mars: When Did Real Food Become Alien?

I make a darn good pumpkin pie.  It's a time tested recipe passed from my great grandmother to my grandmother to me (my mom doesn't mind being skipped because she gets free pie). It has always been the gold standard for me- it demands respect.  Those store bought pies are no match. I admit I'm smug about it, so much so that a few years ago, I entered it into a pie contest at one of the fall festivals.  What an emotional roller coaster it turned out to be. Off to the kitchen to create The Legend. After a few hours of preparation and some baking time, it was ready. Golden brown flaky crust, a smooth top with no cracks. I anxiously submitted my from-scratch beauty to the gray haired ladies for their judgment.  The wait seemed interminable! Here it comes- the announcement of the winners! Alas, I'm disappointed.  Time for the Walk of Shame to collect my rejected pan.  Two ladies brought my pan and to my dismay my pie had been virtually untouched! They proceeded to poke at it with the server the same way a 6 year old pokes at roadkill with a stick.  
"This doesn't look like a pumpkin pie.  Are you sure its cooked? No one even wanted to taste it."
"Yes ladies, it definitely is cooked. It may look a little different because of the type of pumpkin I used."
"Oh!! You mean this is made of real pumpkin? I've never had that before!"
Are you kidding me?! What a wake up call! They treated me like I was ridiculous and for a brief moment, I let them take away my confidence.  I relayed this story to members of my family and I got some needed sympathy to soothe my ego (my aunt almost wet herself laughing, which is also strangely comforting).
Yes, I peel and cook down my own pumpkin. I take pride in my orange hands that are stained from this labor of culinary love.  Admittedly, I grew up in the 1980's with working parents, so I've eaten my share of processed food.  But you know, at one point we also had a garden with melons and veggies, so at least I had an idea of what the real stuff was, which is better than a lot of kids have these days.  A relative in Florida mailed a huge box of oranges and lemons from her trees for Christmas one year.  I was in heaven, but my suburb-raised step kids  (who are actually rather adventurous eaters) wouldn't touch them because they didn't look like the stuff at the store with its paint and wax coating.  I love growing my own food.  I love my meat CSA- what a difference! So why then are my little dog and I so eager to get our fast food breakfast to share? I can make a beautiful egg sandwich with the bread machine, fresh eggs from my sister's chickens that make me practically giddy, and flavorful tomatoes and greens from my garden.   I've read the books.  I'm married to an expert in the field.  It scares me how easily I am tempted away from these beautiful things and into what is commonly referred to as the American diet.  I dropped cigarettes 12 years ago, no sweat.  Iced coffee?  I can't go without it.  But if a study came out that said my 'decaf-cream-sugar-coconut' was going to cause me cancer in 25 years, would I cut it out for good? I know that so-called Factory Food is bad. It makes me feel ill, wrinkly, fat, and tired, just like all of the books, blogs and talking heads on TV say it will whilst quoting the big university studies that are funded by who-knows. I wonder if the researchers change their ways based on what they see in the lab rats.  Maybe that's what I need to see for myself.  But am I already seeing it when I look in the mirror or watch the news? I suppose I'm just part of the culture that publishes thousands of tobacco-cancer studies yet sells billions of cigarettes, sells soda for cheaper than water, and gives blue ribbons to pies made out of a can.  So who are the ridiculous ones?  The lab rats didn't eat my pie.  Lesson learned.  Am I brave enough to live with the results?        

No comments:

Post a Comment