The Creation Story

Welcome, Interwebs Traveler, to my humble blog.
    My name is Katie. In my most basic form, I am a 20-something-year-old with many fancies, one of them being anything gastronomic. I am too young to be epicurean, but in much too deep to be a casual foodie. I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle. I was reared in a food family hailing from the culinary epicenter of the United States, the great and resilient city of New Orleans. I was raised on crawfish boils in the spring, snowballs in the summer, Saints football in the fall and gumbo in the winter. I guess you can say I have a little bit of swamp blood in me, and there ain’t no shame in that. Everyone knows that if you’re raised in Louisiana, you were born to eat. My family get-togethers were always centered around a meal and the children in my family were raised around the stove. If it wasn’t spiral hams at my grandmother’s, it was homemade hearty casseroles and stews from my mother’s kitchen. My father presented me with the other side of the culinary spectrum at a young age. When I was only still in middle school, my father made a point to bring my younger sister and I to high-end, five-star restaurants. His mission was to show us the finer things in life; to appreciate a good well-crafted meal. Before I was 12 I knew how to hold a wine glass, how I liked my steak and the difference between grades of meat. I had acquired the taste for strong cheeses and an impeccable understanding of flavors before I entered high school. Having supped my way through the likes of Commander’s Palace and other highly acclaimed local restaurants so young, I lost interest in the culinary world for a brief time in high school, and took to obsessing over diets, boys, and entirely too much black eye-liner and clothes. What can I say? It happens. I have always been something of a loner. I keep a few close friends nearby, but I have always found it incredibly trying to get close to people. It’s not that I don’t like people, or that I particularly enjoy being by myself, it’s just that at many times in my life I have found myself alone. Going to college was one of those times.

     Being dramatic and 18-years old, I chose a college that was just far enough from my hometown that I could break out and start anew. I moved into a tiny dorm/apartment on campus with a VERY eccentric pro-wrestling enthusiast roommate, who absolutely hated me on sight and spent all of her weekends at her parents’ house. I found myself often depressed and alone with my pantry and refrigerator. I also lived next-door to Quizno’s which had free wifi and supplied me with a delicious bounty of baked sandwiches. I got fat and watched entirely too much television. Somehow I managed to ditch my freshman 15 by walking everywhere. I didn’t have a car and I lived very close to a specialty grocery store that sold gourmet ingredients. I was drawn to Champagne’s like a fly to a bug zapper. I managed to import an art student boyfriend who wore a trilby hat and insisted on growing a monk beard from South Carolina who I met on the Internet. We spent all our time trying to be pretentious food geeks by crafting the likes of stuffed eggplants and exotic Thai soups in my tiny kitchen. We watched A LOT of Food Network, too much for me to comfortably admit and often we tried to re-create the elaborate meals we saw on television. It was chaos. Unbridled chaos. I had never cooked before in my life. I had watched many people do it and I had ordered a meal in many a fine restaurant. Cooking was uncharted territory. By this time I had traded in my grumpy roommate for a peppy blonde named Heather (who was opposite from me in all ways but somehow we meshed really well) and our specialty was destroying the kitchen making red velvet cupcakes. I didn’t really formally learn to cook until my hipster boyfriend left me to drop out of school and go back home. In retrospect, I don’t really know why I got so messed up over it, but I came completely unglued. For an entire summer I forgot to eat. I forgot to watch television. I lost 30 pounds because all I did was go to summer classes, and hole myself up in my dark bedroom listening to Evanescence. Three months later I managed to present myself to the world when the lease expired on my dorm and I moved into my first real apartment.

  The plan was for Heather and I to move in together, but extraneous circumstances left the entire apartment to me. At first this was terribly unsettling but I didn’t mind it after awhile. I got really health conscious after I became terribly aware of my single status on Facebook. I’ve always struggled with weight my entire life due to hormone-related complications. My endocrinologist was breathing down my neck encouraging me to learn to eat right and at that point I started to take things into my own hands. Living alone left me with a lot of free time and a lot of moments to listen to my own brain think. And if you suffer with depression like I do, your brain can think some pretty nasty things. I needed a hobby. I started looking through recipes, ones that weren’t so challenging and chaotic and I began strategically teaching myself techniques. Most of the basics were inborn in me. Something about coming from a food family will do that to you. But a lot of things I learned from watching chefs on television, YouTube tutorials and asking a lot of questions. I became really invested in learning how to cook. Cooking was one of those rewarding things that I didn’t have to answer to anybody about. I was the only one eating my food so if it tasted good to me it was a success. I burned a lot of things. Mostly my hands and other appendages. I cut myself, I dumped a lot of things on the floor and I somehow managed to adhere a pizza to the inside of my oven. Don’t ask. I didn’t have the fanciest and best equipment. I didn’t have the biggest and the best kitchen. My meals at first were basic and uneventful. But I was addicted. I was addicted to the smells and the colors and most of all the way my mind went silent when I cooked. For the first time in my life I had found something that made the thoughts freeze like water. I was more comfortable burning the shit out of myself trying to take a chicken out of the oven than I ever was doing anything else.

     Perhaps it’s the strategic step by step motions of cooking, the mental checklist that plays out in your head as you’re preparing a meal. It forces you to think clearly, to mentally put your ducks in a row. It’s challenging. Physically and strategically. I knew at that point that this was something that I could live for. By the time I started talking to my current boyfriend, my culinary repertoire had been coming along nicely. Our first date we had coffee before class, and then I asked him over for dinner that night. It’s funny because when cooking for a new beau I could have pulled out all the stops and made something completely extravagant. But I didn’t. I didn’t make anything that I saw on television or in magazines. I made a simple baked chicken that I had watched my mother make when I was a child. It was a spur of the moment kind of recipe that I remember she threw together one night after a late choir practice at church. I remembered that I had tasted nothing so buttery and delicious in my life than that chicken and so strangely enough, I decided to make that. I made homemade mashed potatoes though. I was kind of pleased as punch about that. I dressed them with a simple side of green peas and left it simply at that. That night he took his shoes off at the door and pretty much hasn’t left in almost 3 years. I was lucky that my boyfriend loved food as much as I did. We’re not the kind of fatties that would be content with eating large quantities of Burger King just because we like the taste. Although I’m not even going to try and deny that we haven’t done that before. Food is a passion. Cooking, the preparation, the ritual of bread-breaking is what I am really after. Through this relationship, my culinary love has become so much more well-rounded.

     The way I see it food is so much more than a necessity. It’s a chance to make a memory. It’s the chance to tell stories and have communion with other people. It’s the very fabric that binds us all together at the seams. Food is a culture. It’s the adventure in finding the most local, farm fresh ingredients, the intricacy of beer-brewing, the pomp and pleasure of fine-dining, the community that happens over a bubbling pot of gumbo and the thrill of finding new and exciting places to taste. It’s creativity at its most practical. At some point I downgraded to a smaller much more economical apartment but I gained a roommate that I absolutely can’t get enough of no matter how hard times get. He and I spend entirely too much time stirring up trouble in the kitchen, taste-testing, discussing, writing, blogging, grocery hunting, restaurant hopping and now pod-casting about food. And we’re not really sorry about that. The way I see it, if I can bring even the smallest of smiles to someone’s face by creating a meal for them or with them, or even inspiring them to do the same in their own lives, I’ve done something great. I’ve had food blogs before that I lost sight of and felt hindered my vision. I bring this blog to you now with the intention of entertaining, inspiring and teaching. Everyone has their little piece of something to share with the world. This just so happens to be mine.