I’ve never actually taken the time to sit down and explain to everyone why I started writing these blog posts about food items. I’m sure many of you will have heard my proclamations of love for food and my self-appointed status as a foodie. But I thought it would be nice to give you more depth into exactly why I love food so much.
Some of you may have seen the countless photos I post of food. It feels like an asian thing, since nearly all asian people I know take photos of their food. I post everything from meals I’ve eaten out, to things I’ve cooked at home. I like documenting my food, and I’m in the opinion that food presentation is an art form in itself.
Food is pretty and looking at it makes me happy. Food is delicious and eating it makes me happy. Cooking food is fun, trying to recreate dishes I’ve eaten, or try out new flavour combinations, I love everything about cooking except the washing up. It makes me happy.
My love for food goes deeper than that. It gives me this sense of calmness, safety and confidence. The act of eating makes me feel relaxed, and no matter what mood I’m in, I can’t be anything but comforted when I eat. I know there are a lot of people who comfort eat, and they’ll be able to understand that sense of relief you get with your first bite.
There’s this hunger in me that I know will never go away. It’s more like a memory of hunger, and it scares me in the night. The image of a young toddler, sitting alone in an empty room, stomach growling, not understanding the world around her. The sense of helplessness, confusion and a deep sadness.
I come from Vietnam, and when I was born my family weren’t rich. There were days when my mum and dad would go without dinner so that my brother and I could eat, rice with pickled cabbage or dried salted anchovies. I remember that as a treat, we would get to have chicken feet. Not their legs, their feet.
I remember looking forward to school because we all got half a bread roll at lunch, and I remember my brother often giving me his half even though he was just as hungry as I was. I remember the old lady down the road who would sell a handful of fruits in front of her house, and sometimes, maybe once a week, she would give me a starfruit, sour but juicy and better than anything else in the world.
I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. But I remember these things so clearly, because the hunger at the time was so strong. But it wasn’t only the hunger that was strong, it was the kindness as well. Seeing my family give me their portions of what little food we had, or the old lady who would give me the fruit she so desperately needed to sell. These acts of kindness are engraved in my heart and I think play a large part of who I am.
Now, I’m in a position where I, nor any of my family will ever be hungry again. Where there will be a choice of food, and we’re eating for enjoyment and not purely survival. It reaches out beyond that too, I work so that my family will also have access to education and medicine which are not free in Vietnam like they are in the UK.
Food reminds me of where I come from, and how far I’ve gotten. I think it has now simply become a subconscious thing for me to link memories to certain foods, that’s how my brain now organises memories. There are a lot of reasons for why I love food, but I’m happy about the way am.