Monday, January 03, 2011

2011 Food Resolutions

I've just looked back at some of my older New Years Resolution posts, and realized I'm really not very good at keeping on top of them as a guide to better living and eating.  That said, I think that I managed to accomplish last year's goal of getting over my laziness by expanding the blog to cover more NYC food related activities, more new recipes, and even local merchant spotlights.  I hope that you enjoyed these added points of view on the city's food and eating scene, too, as they were really delicious to write about.

Almost every site I read or magazine I have picked up in the past week or so has had some type of round-up of 2010 and crystal ball gazing for the food future of 2011.  I really have no idea what will be the next "it" trend in eating or restaurants or what will be the next cuisine to be "in" or "out."  What I do and have tried to do over the past few years, as an analysis of my blog posts (so much for taking the spreadsheets away from a banker) told me, is to cook at home more, to use more real and local ingredients, and to experiment with those tastes and textures which I'd eaten at restaurants and wanted to learn how to do for myself.

It was interesting, then, to read Mark Bittman's piece in The New York Times last week about sustainable food, one new eating movement.  I think that he is correct about eating more "real food," getting down the basics, and having a few go-to recipes.  I would also add that the ability to cook eggs in any form to this list is another key skill to acquire, as almost everything can be thrown into an omelet or frittata, and a poached or fried egg has made a meal out of many random leftovers.  It's no guarantee that following these guidelines will make the weight magically disappear but, hopefully, you will be eating healthier meals and will feel better overall about your diet.  But what is "real" food?

I grew up eating some meals that came frozen or mostly out of a box with sides of things that came out of a can, although we also had many dinners made from scratch as well as the rare take-away ones.  That was pretty typical for the environment in which I was brought up.  I can't say that I had any major change in dietary orientation, except that I left home, went to college, hated the campus meal plan, and had to start cooking for myself.  When I moved overseas, I had less access to pre-prepared, pre-processed meals and a very limited budget, which drove me to learn how to cook better and to use those ingredients that I found locally in the neighborhoods in which I lived.  I guess that put me in the path of following what the article advocates.  From there, it has all been a hit or miss learning process.

I had the opportunity of hearing Nina Planck speak at the New York City Wine & Food Festival last year about local food and food philosophy.  She actually grew up not far from where I did, but in a completely different environment food-wise having more access to farm-grown materials, as she explains in her book, Real Food.  By one definition, these are the basic foods that our ancestors ate in one form or another (which is also mentioned in the Bittman article).  They aren't engineered to taste differently or grow in seasons or locations where they don't occur naturally.  The premise is that they are better for our bodies and our overall selves.

It is also not that different from what Michael Pollan outlines in In Defense of Food, where he exhorts us to: "Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly plants."  Many of the articles I've been reading about food and health are urging us to do the same thing.  I do try to be better about eating this way.  Sometimes, it's just difficult, and it does take planning.  Taking both of these books and their points of view as well as The New York Times article, this is probably not a bad starting point for me to work from this year as I try to develop new recipes for this site, while at the same time trying not to miss out on some great meals.

Buon appetito!

This entry is also cross-posted at Blogher.

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