Looking through the camera roll on my phone I find that at least ten percent of the photos are of food. A lot of jokes are made about people taking pictures of their food, but have you have wondered why? Even if the picture isn’t of a mile-high chocolate mousse pie or a cappuccino where the barista has swirled a leaf into the foam, food is a part of almost every human social event.
It’s only natural that food defines us so much.
Sixty percent of the basic necessities of life are food (shelter, water, food). Food represents life and anytime we break bread together we are sharing life. It universally unites mankind.
As a result of its significance, we are creative with food and it is an expression of our emotions.
- The carnivorous finger food shared around a tailgate.
- The once-a-year holiday cookies made from mom’s original recipe.
- The first meal a newly married couple shares with all their friends and loved ones in the form of a sweet, beautiful, towering cake.
Each of these uniquely celebrates an aspect of life and how we as humans commune by breaking bread together.
Food has so much significance that it also has context in sad gatherings. Comfort food is taken to a Wake in the event of a death. A bottle of wine or gallon of ice cream is shared with a friend to commiserate over a lost romance.
Feeding a prisoner only bread and water is administered as punishment. Bread and water is the basest form of sustenance. It lacks color and beauty and most often is eaten alone or in a gathering you do not want to be a part of.
This existential thinking about food was triggered after I took the Taste of Carolina Gourmet Food Tour in downtown Raleigh back in March. Nine strangers met and walked quietly to Joule Coffee & Table for our first tasting. In unfamiliar surroundings, doing something we’d never done before with people we didn’t know, everyone was reserved. Cautious. Until…
The waiter served each of us “The Hangover,” Joule’s famous brunch specialty of “course ground grits with sharp cheddar, bacon, pico de gallo, scallions, and sour cream.” You could hear oohs and ahs around the table. The first bite was luscious, so joyful. I looked up directly into the face of the stranger sitting across from me and we united.
“Oh, my god, this is so good!”
“I don’t know if I can stop eating.”
“Where are you guys from?”
Suddenly, we were a community. Just like that. A mother and daughter new to the city, a couple celebrating their 40th anniversary, a banker, a couple of nerds, and a Korean weight lifter. Over a bowl of grits.
A couple of weeks ago I got to celebrate my sister’s birthday in Boca Raton, Florida. There should be no shame associated with celebrating a wonderful life and a special person around rich, indulgent food.
We started things off at the Yard House in Mizner Park chosen specifically because they served duck fat potatoes and truffle fries — neither of which I had ever had. In addition, we ordered the deviled eggs with candied bacon, spicy tomato sauce, sweet chili, and chives. We paired these with a watermelon/cucumber concoction called The Refresher and a lite Lemon Drop Martini.
We highly recommend the deviled eggs.
THE REFRESHER by Yard House
Prairie cucumber vodka
fresh watermelon juice
LITE LEMON DROP MARTINI by Yard House
Ketel One citroen vodka
Of course there was shopping and movie watching accompanied with Popcornopolis gourmet popcorn, cheesecake, wine, and my own Sea Breeze cocktail with the most fabulous coconut rum I’ve ever tasted.
SEA BREEZE COCKTAIL
1.5 oz Coconut Rum
3 oz. Cranberry Juice
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
When I look back at the pictures of duck fat potatoes and watermelon cocktails, my thoughts won’t be about how I can find duck fat or how many laps I have to do to work off the liquor. It will be how much we laughed, how it felt to hug my sister, and how there is a person on this planet who has a bond with me like no other.