Discovering a New Passion in Cooking

cooking nourishment passion

On a whim, I made a parsnip and cauliflower topped Paleo shepherd's pie, deliciously seasoned, succulent on the inside and crusty on the outside.

Just last night we did a slow-cooked beef stew that went from tough as rubber to melt-in-your-mouth. The night before, I finally (and very successfully) tackled a traditional Jordanian dish called mansef, heavily spiced yogurt stew with browned cauliflower and beef cubes (my mom helped). This morning I crisped up some cardamom mushrooms and cinnamon sweet potato mini-fries to go with our poached eggs (just some stuff we had laying around).

This is what I mean! I'm turning into a food snob! People are actually impressed by the meals I prepare. My roommate thinks I'm a Real Cook.

And I have no idea what to do with this newfound ability.

The Significance of Food

I used to view food as frivolous, something to be dealt with and eaten so you could get on with your life. Even when I was concerned with healthy eating, food was still about nutrition, not about the experience. I made a lot of healthy but disgusting dishes in those days; as long as they were edible I was fine.

I would never have given this much thought to cooking. I would have seen it as a waste of time. I turned up my nose at gourmet food, saying it was excessive effort for something so trivial, more concerned with taste and appearance than actual health.

But living away from my family in Korea, I began to see that food could mean much more than just nutrients. It was a way to comfort others, to share experiences  and to take care of yourself. Putting care into your meals was a way to take care of yourself. My girlfriend appreciated good food more than I did, and tolerated bad food much less, which forced me to take a look at what I accepted for meals.

We also made friends with a gastronomic genius ice cream maker who taught me how and why to appreciate life's delicious moments.

The result was that, by the end of our time in Korea, we had started to take an interest in fine cooking, and the ritual of nourishment expanded beyond the simple ingestion of calories.

When I moved to Boulder, there was a lot of alone time for food and cooking, and it became a way for me to look after myself and express hospitality when I had few relationships I could turn to. All the techniques and ingredient sensitivity I'd developed from worrying about food nutrition came together to help me craft meals that were as comforting as they were healthy.

Some people take long showers, or cuddle up with chocolate and a movie to pamper themselves. I cook.

It has even become a way for me to take care of others. Instead of going out, I'll take my friends to the grocery store, we'll pick out some ingredients, and go home and prepare an impromptu feast.

Coming Out

I guess this isn't terribly novel, but for me, it's a bit of a turning point. I always denied being labelled a foodie because to me that seemed snobbish, and I always thought of myself as a very down-to-earth person, but when my new employer tagged me as one, I realized it was true. And I realized that being a foodie can still be down-to-earth (I wouldn't call myself a gourmand). I appreciate good food from healthy soil, prepared lovingly, as a way to nourish myself and others, my communities, and the land that sustains us, a way to connect people and a way to empower them to bring both nutritional and emotional energy to their days.

I really enjoy cooking. I love combining ingredients and taking the time to do it right. I like sitting down to a meal and giving my attention to the food, and good company, free of distractions. I like feeding others. It's a little thing, but it makes a difference, and I find it brings me an unexpected level of satisfaction to have a good meal.

Hello, my name is Khaled, and I am a foodie, and proud of it.

And if anyone wants my braised chicken and brussel sprouts with a side of black radish and butternut squash fries recipe, or my parsnip and cauliflower shepherd's pie recipe, they'll have to wait for the cookbook ;-).