Le Digestif #15: Jan 14, 2022
Falling in Love with Food in 2022
Happy 2022 foodie friends! I hope the holiday season left both your hearts and bellies full. I got to spend some time with my family enjoying my mom’s incredible cooking and took a try at some bakes to shake off those January Jitters!
The new year marks the tune of resolution season and I’m a sucker for it. I think there is something beautiful about people wanting to reflect on the year that has been and changes for the new year ahead. Healthy eating is almost always a top 10 resolution but it’s often rooted in crappy diet culture and seeing food as a vice.
To heck with that, I think we should optimize for building a better relationship with food. No guilt, more vibes!
This week, I’m trying something different and dedicating the issue to a few ways that you can embrace food this year. I asked a few of my foodie friends (thank you Cole, Emily, Sarah, and Rachel) which facets of food they’re hoping to get more acquainted with this year. If you’re hoping to get better at cooking or food appreciation, I hope these inspire you as well. Here’s to loving food in 2022!
If this is your first Le Deeg or a friend shared it with you, thanks for joining! To get more of these in your mailbox, subscribe here!
Ok let’s dig in!
I think the best way to cook is to follow the mantra of “complex flavours, simple execution”. You should let your produce do all the talking. When you buy products that are in season, you get to taste food at its finest, appreciating it in all its bounty. Spices and sauces will add depth like the backup singers at your concert. Also, it makes grocery shopping much more exciting. Nothing sparks more joy than seeing the first sign of sumo oranges in the winter, ramps in the spring, and watermelon in the summertime.
To keep track of what is in season, check out the Season Food Guide. Additionally, browse your local farmers market. Vendors are always down to educate patrons on what’s fresh from the earth. I know I’m loved because the vendor at my farmer’s market is always throwing new riches into my cart. If you’re not feeling the trip, sign up for a local CSA box and get goodies delivered to your door.
If you’re looking for inspiration on what to cook, check out Edna Lewis’ Taste of Country Cooking and In Pursuit of Flavour. These are two awesome books that get down to the roots of heritage American cooking and the instructions are great for all skill levels!
GET BACK TO THE BASICS
I’m all for imperfect, rustic cooking but sometimes the perfectionist in me thrives on getting every slice and dice perfectly. Learning the foundations of cooking is one of the best ways to build confidence in the kitchen and slowly break you away from cocinar con telefono.
Knowing how to properly dice veggies, spice pairings, and what oil to use with what dish are all baby steps in making you a better home chef.
Start with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, the culinary bible for the home cook. I gift this book to any of my friends who have uttered “I need to cook more” this year and what a wonderful guide it is. If you’re a visual learner, the New York Times has a really good library of simple cooking techniques that will spark joy for any cook, regardless of skill.
INVEST IN GOOD COOKWARE
Maybe this is how my brain works but I love spending money on silly little things to make hobbies more enjoyable. The second I started to make adult money, I quickly invested in my kitchen, even before getting a nice couch. Investing in quality cookware isn’t only an incredible sustainable move but super great way to keep coming back to the kitchen. I’ll make a dedicated guide to cookware soon but here’s a small start.
For starters, get a good chef’s knife and whetstone for sharpening. Cutting with a blunt one is the fastest way for you to open Ubereats instead of diving into a good meal. The Wüsthof Classic Knife is a great start. They also have great serrated & paring knives to add to the collection.
Next up, you’re going to want to cook in something. Italic (their whole kitchen line is GAS) & Caraway have some great cookware sets to get you started. Restaurant supply stores are also a great place to snag saucepans and pots too that will survive anything!
If you’re levelling up this year, invest in that All-Clad, guaranteed to last longer than Grey’s Anatomy. Live your best life but you need to get a Dutch oven. I can’t tell you how many uses that thing has and it gets better with age. Start off with a Lodge one, slowly upgrade to the Le Creuset, and round it off with a Staub (these girls are on sale) as you want to reward yourself for making all your meals at home.
Finally, some nice plates to jeuge up your finished product can turn your abode into a Michelin star joint. Hit up your local antique store for some unique pieces or pick a few on your next vacation. In my opinion, the more mismatched, the better.
FRIENDSHIP THROUGH FOOD
Few things bring me joy than gathering my nearest and dearest for a dinner party. I think food just tastes better when you’re with people.
Growing up, I always thought that a dinner party had to be just like the ones my mom threw. You know the ones that are adorned with beautiful matching linens, name tags, and dishes just for the occasion. Dinner parties only really need three things: good people for thoughtful conversation, enough food to have leftovers, and an assortment of beveraginos.
As long as people leave with bellies and hearts full, you’ve done a great job! I’ve thrown ones with a menu as simple as a pot of soup and as a complex as a homemade pizza party. Heck even ordering takeout from a local restaurant and asking guests to bring an interesting drink to pair with is another wunderbar idea! Even better, do a little food crawl in another neighbourhood. Or check out some cool supper club initiatives like Create Dinners, Produce Parties, or Her Name is Nala
TRAVEL THROUGH TASTE
What better way to experience a new land than with your tastebuds. I’ll admit I'm the first one to hop on a plane but sometimes the best place to try something new is in the comfort of your own home. Start off with your dream vacation spot, find a few cookbooks or recipes native to that land and sail away. I feel like indulging in these recipes is also a great way to stock up your spice cabinet and add new flavours in rotation.
If you’re really not up for cooking, snag a book, a snack, or watch a flick. I’ve been really loving Folu’s Unsnackable newsletter as a way to explore new treats. Criterion Collection’s Food on Film always has a foreign film that inspires my next meal and reading through Anthony Bourdain’s World Travel will give me ideas on what cuisine I should look for in my city.
Also, peep the speciality store in your neighbourhood to find fare from a foreign land. I recently fell in love with Kalles, Swedish fish paste, after a trip to the market. Now I’m dying to hit up Stockholm on my next foodie trip!
TAKE ON BIG PROJECTS
In season 3 of el pandemico, I assume that almost everyone has taken a swig at home cooking. Even my “eat every meal at giant tech co cafetaria” friends have decided that they need to spend some time whipping up something good. At a certain point, you will get bored of making every meal but you can still play with your food and get rewarded for it.
I find that tackling a big baking project helps me reconnect with food in an exciting way and also I can add a new thing to my repertoire. Anything can be considered a big project. Starting with a complex chocolate chip recipe, crafting homemade limoncello or even whipping up Japanese milk bread are great ways to start. I typically think of something that I’ve tried at a restaurant This year, I’m hoping to cook through a few cookbooks and get better at making homemade pasta.
Thanks again for reading along! I hope that 2022 becomes a year of you rediscovering your love of food in exciting ways. And if you absolutely don’t feel like cooking, yes takeout is absolutely fine! But feel free to mix it up!
If you ate, drank, or snacked on anything interesting recently, please let me know! I’m excited to read all your responses and try them out too!
Your friend in food,
Have other foodie friends? Share Le Digestif with them!