Friday, December 08, 2006

Counting My Blessings

This is the time of year when we all look back and reflect on those things for which we are grateful. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks (well, in part), and so it seems a fitting subject for an entry here. Off we go:

I’m grateful for my family—my husband (even if he does put the knives away wet, and doesn’t read my blog) is an absolute treasure. I’m the luckiest woman in the world to be married to a man who not only loves me for what I am (faults and all—not that I have any, mind you), loves our children, likes to eat and cook, but will also wash all the pots and pans. My kids are the best things that happened to me since I met my husband, and I can’t imagine life without any one of them, even if they do occasionally drive me up the wall (individually and collectively). Now if I could just get them to eat something besides chicken nuggets…but I’ve covered that ground before. The gratitude also extends to my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins that we’ve moved to be near, and to my husband's family as well.

I’m grateful that I have friends and family members who will listen to me drivel on endlessly, and even fuel the fire by engaging in dialogs, about food. Eating food, reading about food, and talking about food are some of my greatest pleasures. I’m lucky to have friends who feel the same.

I’m grateful for my job. Bless their hearts, they hired me when I was seven months pregnant, and I promised, swore that I would not go into labor early, but would be around until November 17th. After three weeks I was at home with a new baby (and sans appendix—hence the early labor), and they were scrambling to cover my work. But I’m eternally grateful to them, because my having a job means that I can buy all the food, kitchen crap, cookbooks, and other food-related items my little heart desires.

I’m grateful for my house. Yes it’s a rental, yes it has a hideous, badly designed kitchen, but as the old saying goes, I cried because I had a crummy kitchen until I met a woman who had no house (or something like that). It provides comfortable, if not lavish, shelter for us. We could do far worse, and many people have. I’m also grateful that we’ll be breaking ground on a new house in the early part of next year.

I’m grateful I can smell. This may seem weird, but as we’ve all read thousands of times, the ability to taste is largely dependent on our sense of smell. I probably ought to say I’m grateful for all of my senses, since they’re all involved in food consumption, and come in pretty handy in other parts of life as well.

I’m grateful that I don’t have any diseases or conditions that prevent me from eating and drinking anything I want. Ditto allergies. I may not want to eat eggplant, avocados, or sea urchins, but there’s nothing to prevent me from doing so if I did. If I could get rid of my conscience, I’d be able to eat and drink everything I wanted with absolutely no hesitation. As it is, there’s that little voice in the back of my mind that reminds me that, actually, birthday cake (even one’s own) is not really considered a suitable breakfast, even by those experts who claim that one can eat anything for breakfast, even cold pizza or soup, and that it’s eating something that counts.

I’m grateful that I live in a time when good food is readily available. I can go to my local Safeway and find baby arugula, frozen duck breasts, shrimp paste, and La Brea bread. I’m also grateful that I have a local Safeway, and don’t have to go to half a dozen shops every day and queue up to buy everything. If I had the time, and lived in a culture that supported it, I wouldn’t mind buying the ingredients for my meals every day, nor would I mind going to individual specialty shops to do it. But I don’t live in a culture that supports it, so to have to manage it would be difficult.

I’m grateful that I have food options. There’s a huge outcry in this country against fast food, and the “support local growers” chant grows louder with each passing day, but I must say that I’m happy I can get in my car and drive to McDonald’s and get something to eat on my way to wherever I’m going. And these days, McDonald’s even offers reasonably healthy foods—salads, yogurt, etc. Also, it’s worth noting that McDonald’s is now the fifth largest corporate purchaser of baby salad mix in this country. Doesn’t that say something about what their customers are eating? Sure, they may have a hamburger along with it, but they’re eating the salad. In the same vein, I’m grateful that there are processed foods available. Certainly I would far rather serve my family homemade culinary masterpieces, but when I get home at 6 and two of my kids need to be in bed by 6:45 (lest they morph into screaming, overtired monsters), being able to heat something up fast is a lifesaver. I clearly have a love-hate relationship with processed foods. A product of my generation, I guess--we were brought up on Swanson frozen dinners, but when we reached adulthood we were told that frozen dinners tasted like the box they came out of, and were urged to eat haricots verts and grilled monkfish instead. But that's another issue.

I’m grateful that I live in a time when my obsession with food is easily supportable. It could be argued that my obsession with food is a product of our society, and that may be true. But however it happened, cooking, eating, and food are an important part of my life, and our current cultural environment supports, and possibly even contributes to, my love of these things. Either way, I have easy access to what I love, and I’m thankful for that.

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