Pictured here: our little grandson, Logan, who is almost four. Ya think he loves Christmas? He took some of his own money out of his piggybank to give his mama a present. (A silver picture frame that will soon hold this particular photo.)
I hope everyone's holidays are going smoothly: we had a very nice Christmas that was really about family, though my daughter is far away in Utah with her brothers, daddy, and his wife.
Here is the sixth guest author, Nicki Blaufard, from Robin's Somers' writing class at UCSC, "The Meaning of Food." Her students are offering up their memoirs of childhood food, and it's my pleasure to publish them here.
Nicki Blaufarb writes about the uniqueness of being raised in the shelter of food conscious hippy parents only to be seduced by milkshake machines, packaged pizzas, and gooey sweets when she leaves the nest for college. Truly, a heroic journey, which tests and tempers Nicki’s love of good food.
Food, Weaponry, and Wheatgrass
by Nicki Blaufard
I am a product of proto-hippy type parents, the folks that followed around the Grateful Dead, took a liking to ‘Ghandi-esque’ ideals, hot tubs, and redwood trees and then became lawyers and nurses who practiced yoga and hiked religiously. Being the offspring of such individuals threw me into the ever growing culture of those of us who strive to find the right way of living life, desperately seeking ways to make ourselves feel better, emotionally, physically, spiritually… It seems obvious then to start this adventure and deep search of the right way of living by embracing the essentials of what allows us as human beings to survive, the essentials, meaning, food.
I remember my first wheatgrass shot as if it were yesterday. I was standing on the warm hardwood floor of the Astana yoga studio, the air thick with clean breath and sweat. I was seven years old, and as far as I was concerned almond milk and date coconut bars were candy, and any normal second grader had had their fair share of sprouted wheat toast with ghee butter and fresh strawberry jam. I remember my mom, looking beautifully exhausted from her yoga practice holding a shot glass containing a bright green substance. She handed me the glass. I held it in my small hand, staring at the thick green substance, not knowing what to do, drink it or fertilize a garden with it.
“Down it, honey,” my mother cooed.
Not wanting to make a scene nor offend the peaceful people of the yoga world, I placed the shot glass to my lips, opened my throat, and “downed” it. The bittersweet thick liquid slid down my esophagus and into my stomach then straight back up my esophagus and onto the nice, dreaded gentleman standing next to me. I was not surprised nor in shocked, just in awe of how it seemed to look just the same coming out as it did going in.
Despite my wheatgrass incident I still had complete trust in my parents in making my food decisions, or at least until I was able to make my own. Throughout my childhood and into adulthood I went through many different genres of food, as I like to call them. The discovery of a new way of eating was always exciting: there was the meat eating stage, the vegan intervention, the over the top raw food craze, the easy vegetarian, then back to the all inclusive meat-eating, veggie-loving feature presentation.
In my house as a child all food was organic, free-range, and delightfully delicious. I remember the Sunday barbeques where my dad would use only the best and freshest meats and ingredients. I loved breathing in the enticing aroma of smokey hickory sage barbeque sauce over chicken breasts and lean meats. The smell of caramelized yams, onions, and peppers radiated from the grill through my nostrils and skin, and into my bloodstream, filling my entire being.
I remember dinners of lemon pepper encrusted grilled fillets of salmon, sweet vine ripe cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and balsamic, golden Yukon potatoes pan cooked in virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, garnished with rosemary. And for dessert we would indulge in sweet berries of all sorts tossed over weightless cloudlike pieces of angel food cake smothered in freshly whipped cream.
Spoiled with clean healthy delectable food all my life, it was not until junior high that I was introduced to cafeteria lunches and pre-packaged meals. The junior high school cafeteria was like the cold war: all the kids had their own ‘food weaponry and arms’, which I knew were out there, but had never tasted. I liked to think of the pizza snack packs, pre-made meat ravioli in one time use containers, and torpedo shaped pastries injected with a white sticky fluffy substance wrapped in plastic as bombs or nuclear devices waiting to be set off; the only difference between this and war being that the bomb went off in one’s stomach and shot out the other end.
The time came when I was to make food decisions on my own: college. College is a time of freedom and choice. In college there is no one to report back to, no one checking up on me, no one asking why it is I came home at five in the morning with one shoe, a tongue pierce, and three cell phones, none of which are mine. My point is, certainly no one is going to check up on my eating habits. I swore to myself I would not give in to the cafeteria curse of the freshman fifteen.
My first visit to the cafeteria was like an explorer embarking on her first voyage. I can recall with perfect memory my first time walking into the cafeteria. My eye caught the distant glimmer of the milkshake machine and then to the machines that dispensed an array of multicolored carbonated beverages. These two devices sat next to the bins of sugar-coated, colored cereals and sticky pastries. I could smell the crisp, oily meat and fried chicken tenders, which peacefully sat next to the pepperoni pizza and large vat of ranch dressing.
It is a dangerous world to enter where not only is the cafeteria a mecca of food weaponry and bombs twenty feet from your door, but also where the resident weed dealers, who called themselves Moonshine and Peaceman, live next me, a brutal and weighty combination. Although I did not give into the freshman fifteen but the freshman eleven, I considered it a triumph finishing my first year not being eternally bloated or becoming diabetic.
Now, here I am, a fourth year in college. Much in my life has changed—friends, inspirations, aspirations, jobs, boyfriends, houses, presidents—but one thing has always remained the same I still LOVE food, and good food at that.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Furthermore I will just have to see what the future will bring me. But a change of food whets the appetite." — Jonathan Brandis
Thanks for visiting, and continued happy holidays.