I'm not exactly sure when or how I became a "food expert." I think it must have just been one of those instances when you assume you can do something well enough to be considered a professional and others believe you, if, for no other reason than because you said so. In any case, somewhere between the blogging and the cooking classes and the dinner parties, food and cooking have become a part of my identity.
There is no question that I love food and the art of its preparation. Beyond the simple pleasure of eating, cooking makes me feel more connected to the world around me. Using my hands to turn basic, fresh ingredients into something special is possibly one of the most invigorating experiences I know of. I cook to express that which I cannot say. I do some of my best thinking when I'm kneading bread dough or making tomato sauce.
I can talk about food for hours. I love hearing about what others like to eat and cook. One of my favorite questions to ask someone when I'm getting to know them is "what do you eat for lunch?" You can learn a lot about a person and their lifestyle from what they eat for lunch. Do they pack a lunch to take to work? Do they eat a burrito at the taqueria across the street from their office? Do they work so hard that they merely drink Slim-Fast at their desk? The answers are always interesting to me, regardless of how dull they may seem to whoever I'm talking to.
I sometimes worry that the rest of me will get lost behind the foodie front. That I will exist for others solely as someone who can recommend a good wine to pair with your Spaghetti Carbonara or tell you what kind of corn to buy at the farmers market when summer hits. And yet, I'm the one who perpetuates the food talk. I wonder if it is because I am maybe a little bit afraid of being seen without my "expert" cloak. Maybe I talk about the one thing I know for sure makes me special because I'm occasionally doubtful that the rest of me--the non-expert, non-professional, just-regular-Gabi parts of me are all that interesting.
As I reread that last sentence, I can practically hear my mother exasperatedly assure me that all parts of me are special and interesting, and I believe that she thinks so--as that's what mothers tend to do. And while I wouldn't expect my friends to feel as strongly about me as my mother does, I would venture to guess that most of them at least partially agree with her.
It's an intrinsically human desire to be fully seen and accepted for exactly who you are. It is, perhaps, the very definition of intimacy. And so it would seem that I ought to get out of my own way and let all of me be seen--not just the parts I think will be perceived positively.
Besides, nowhere is it written that I have to be interesting all the time.