The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan
Before striking out on my own, I was not the kind of person who could improvise with food. While I adapted recipes right and left to my own nefarious purposes, I always needed to start with a recipe. But a few weeks ago, I, eager for something other than baked eggs, sweet potatoes, and muffins, finally snapped. I, a woman who once cried when I undercooked a chicken breast (even though I could just put it back in the oven), improvised a fish curry with what I had on hand—curry paste, almond milk, frozen vegetables, leftover mushrooms, and some manager’s special salmon. Once finished, I declared it a template for “whatever curry,” so perhaps my days of slavishly following recipes aren’t entirely over. But it’s still a big step for me, towards what Tracie McMillan calls “culinary literacy.”
Best Food Writing 2013 edited by Holly Hughes
While only a few months separate my readings of Best Food Writing 2011 and Best Food Writing 2013, they’re worlds away from each other when it comes to my cooking and my own relationship with food. Providing for myself is quite a different experience from living with my parents or living at school. (There are no endless bowls of apples, for one.) On the one hand, there are some things that I love that I won’t be buying anytime soon, like smoked salmon. On the other hand, I’ve had to get more creative, resulting in baguettes stuffed with veggie puree and almond milk-based curry. (I’m lactose intolerant, so that’s always on hand.) Food is becoming something I have more and more control over, simply because I have to cook constantly. It is no longer a fun hobby I indulged in for friends’ birthdays and the holidays, but something I do everyday.