Finding My True Food Passions
Food is inspiration, memories, challenges, and most of all, an outlet to express myself. Food has always played a strong role in my life. Ever since I can remember, it’s been more than merely sustenance to get me through the day.
My love for food all started at home with family. I grew up living above my grandparent’s hot dog restaurant, The Dog House. So in some ways, I was kind of born into a food family. On my father’s side, I had Italian roots that gave me a deep love for everything from meatballs and homemade spaghetti as a kid to fried smelts as an adult. My mother’s side has German ancestry, so I grew to love dishes like pork roast and sauerkraut (especially on New Year’s Day).
Throughout my childhood and into my adolescent years, I grew up eating my mom’s home-cooked dinners, some of which included Shepard’s pie and white spaghetti. But the most influential things to fuel my passion for food were the cooking shows that I was glued to every afternoon and evening. I loved tuning into Food Network, watching chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray whip up delicious meals in a mere half hour time slot. Later on in high school, I discovered shows like “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain and was perpetually amazed at how he described his international culinary experiences with such cunning detail.
I grappled a lot with what to do after graduating high school. I knew that I had loved cooking, eating and talking about food for almost my whole life—so culinary school seemed like the perfect option. But at the better suggestion of my mother, I decided to attend a public university for communication studies, rather than enter the world of culinary arts and possibly lose motivation after a year.
It was the perfect decision, because now as a young adult freshly graduated from college, I can pursue my other love—writing—while I fill all of my free time with cooking, trying new recipes and scoping out local restaurants.
Below is my mother’s recipe for white spaghetti. A quick and easy meal for any pasta-lover!
- ½ pound of your favorite long pasta (try linguine or spaghetti)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cups of your favorite vegetables (Spinach, broccoli, zucchini and tomatoes all work well)
- ¾ cup of reserved pasta water
- Salt, pepper, and your favorite seasonings (I recommend Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes
- Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- Optional: Chopped parsley, Italian bread
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Reserve ¾ cup of water, drain pasta and set aside.
- Prep all of your chosen veggies. Leafy greens like spinach can be left whole. Chop your broccoli, zucchini and other vegetables to be relatively the same size.
- In a medium saucepan melt butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent.
- Next, add chopped veggies and desired seasonings (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, etc.)
- Cook for 5-10 minutes with lid until veggies are tender but still have a little bite. Add in cooked pasta and reserved water. Toss until sauce has thickened and everything is coated.
- Adjust seasoning as needed, top with grated Parmesan and enjoy with crusty Italian bread. Buon appetito!
I don’t regret not going into the culinary arts, or devoting endless work days and sleepless nights to the restaurant business. I know in my heart of hearts that if I decided to make food my career that I would have lost my childhood wonder that inspired me to love it all so much in the first place.
When I feel anxious or nervous about an upcoming job interview, I rumble through my refrigerator and pantry for something to let my creative juices flow. Whenever I go home for Christmas and sit around the dinner table with my family as we all eat homemade spaghetti with my grandmother’s secret sauce, I feel safe and secure. I know that food will always be part of my life, even though it may not be in a professional sense.
I hope that my love and experiences with food can help you bring past memories to the surface. Let’s keep this conversation of what food means to you going strong. Let’s ELM.
Rachel! – Editorial Assistant/Brand Ambassador