Personal Food Identity

Ever since starting at 6SensorLabs, I’ve been thinking a lot about food, specifically about how often people simply can’t eat certain foods. This thinking has also brought to the forefront how much food & identity are intertwined.

So, I wanted to expand a bit on the short food identity I wrote about in my bio.

I believe sharing a meal is a foundational experience. My parents come from two different backgrounds: my father is Italian, my mother is a Southerner. Both cultures are strongly centered on socializing and sharing when it comes to food. I don’t care if it’s just sandwiches on napkins, or a fine dining experience where we’ve broken out the “good stuff.” Meals are for ingesting conversation and food. I will admit to eating lunch quietly at my desk on many days, just to crank through it, but I wish this were less often the case.

I practice a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. I’ve not had red meat, game, or pork for 30+ years and haven’t touched fish or chicken in about 17. I rarely hesitate to ask about the ingredients of a dish in a restaurant, and I read labels carefully before putting something in the grocery cart.

I believe the healthiest foods are those that are made from scratch. Cooking is sharing love with your friends and family, and my love of cooking has spurred me to much experimentation.

To keep the work week simple (and to appeal to teenage palates), there’s a short list of go to dishes that appear on our family table week in and week out. These include beans and rice, pasta, salad, soup, roasted vegetables, sautéed vegetables, seitan, fresh veggies, and whatever looked good at the Farmers Market that week. In other words, the genius of vegetables in all their forms!

We live in a part of the country where it’s easy to hit the Farmer’s Market and grab what’s seasonal. We try to avoid canned or frozen vegetables. Yes, this is a *huge* luxury, and I’m incredibly grateful.

Leftovers are good. Especially for lunch. Leftovers after three days should be tossed. Five at most. I’ve even adopted using food that’s a touch stale but not necessarily spoiled into our dog’s diet. Our whole family eats food that comes from great ingredients!

Tea is my preferred stimulant. Dark teas, like a really good Assam, or just a nice English breakfast tea blend make me happy. On a day to day basis, it’s generally PG Tips in my cup.

I have a two donuts a year rule. Last year’s Blue Star Buttermilk Donut in Portland could almost make me want to change this.

I try to have only one soda a month. This is a little tricky if cocktails are involved, because sometimes a ginger beer and bourbon is good for what ails ya, but outside of that I generally avoid soda.

Foods I avoid apart from dead animal flesh? Beets. Yeah, I know, they are supposed to be tasty. To me, they taste like dirt. Another thing I avoid: HFCS. Yuck. It’s in everything. Extraneous, unpronounceable ingredients that are nothing more than chemicals are also yuck.

I’m allergic to truffles and truffle oil. As a result, I eat less mushrooms than perhaps I should.

I also know it’s a delight to explore various cuisines. My favorites: Burmese, Caribbean, Cuban, Ethiopian, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Persian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese. Anything that combines things. Again, these cuisines are best with ingredients that are fresh, and involve lots of vegetables.

My favorite meal is probably pizza and salad.

Cocktails and non-alcoholic special drinks are a great way to pass some time with friends. As much care goes into cocktail making as food making in our house. It’s a fun thing.

My family has practically adopted the chorus “We already know dinner is going to have salad, what *else* are we having?” Salad is delicious and allows for great variety.

Ice cream is wonderful. It’s probably my favorite dessert. Chocolate ice cream, on the other hand, is horrible.

As this comes from my fingers, the thing that springs to mind is how much I appreciate food and the abundance of it I get to enjoy. While it may seem restrictive to some, my food choice and allergies don’t limit me, they help define me.  For those with multiple allergies and sensitivities, it must feel freeing to know what they can and can’t eat to feel good. It’s one of the reasons the work we’re doing at 6SensorLabs is so compelling.