The day after my brother and I returned home from school, it was already our second favorite day, Christmas Eve Eve. This semester was grueling, stressful, and eventful to say the least. It's funny, though, how quickly all of the stresses of college dissipate immediately when you walk through the door, only to find your dog dressed up as Santa Claus and chocolates on the kitchen counter! Sometimes the look on her face, miserable as it looks here as she wears that costume, is just the thing to cheer me up. Most notably though, food is one of my most favorite things, and being away from good food is something that is very difficult for me. Needless to say, my school cafeteria, as hard as the chefs--I mean cooks-- try, does not satisfy my food quality quota. Sometimes when I'm away at school I'll even order myself a carepackage of Lake Champlain Chocolates, (my absolute favorites in the world--handcrafted in small batches in Vermont) just to get a glimpse into the reality that quality still exists somewhere.
Food doesn't just excite me because of the taste, it is so much more than that. Cooking for me is therapy. The chopping of celery--the way it crunches when the strong steel blade of a good knife cuts into it, the whipping of egg whites-- how they transform so beautifully from gloppy and clear to a frothy, fluffy, white foam that forms peaks; the smell of a freshly cut vanilla bean and the thousands of tiny little seeds that scrape out: all of these motions and senses transport me to a peaceful place. Everything about food interests me, from the way it breaks down, bubbles, and changes colors in heat, to the intricate details of how it nourishes the body, and I might suggest, soul. It can cure illness, fight malnutrition, prevent premature aging, make us happy when we're sad. It can ignite aromas that bring us back to memories of our childhood or simply decorate a picture frame. During the holidays, these emotions, feelings, and sensations are completely elevated and brought to focus.
Food is at the core of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and luckily for me, it's the one time a year when my mom lets me cover the kitchen in flour and frosting and for me, after the stresses of everyday college life, that's all that I need. How fortunate and blessed I am to be able to learn, create, taste, relax, eat, and be surrounded by my most favorite foods, while socializing with loved ones. I guess what I'm grateful for this holiday season, is the art and freedom that food grants me, and I thought I'd share that with you fellow foodies out there. Try a new recipe from scratch, sit back and relax, you won't be disappointed and it might just transport you too to a place filled with joy.
Happy eating, good food, and good fortune,
[pictures taken by my sister, Kate, of dedikatedphotography]