A Joyful Welcome...
The idea of beginning a shared journal of food and community exploration can seem at this moment in time superfluous. Even as I write - as if to echo my sentiments an email notification sounds - another alarm bell, another outrage.
And then I remember, that the essence of health for me is a gathering of community - a celebration of something that honors our heritage, our nourishment, our connection to sensory delights, our varied experiences.
All of these ideas land firmly in the world of cooking and breaking bread, tortillas, biscuits, naan together. My experiences with food as entry point to connection began as a child in the Philippines sharing Fiesta day feasts with my neighbors. The generosity, care, and delight in creating a festive meal cemented my sense of belonging despite my outsider status. Without effort, I remember cones of spices, dried chilies, dried fish and frogs, the sounds of food hawkers competing with the visual overload. Now, I only need to travel a few minutes away to a local Latin, Armenian, or Asian market to feel the same sense of delight and wonder.
I began documenting my experiences of community through food over a year ago. I noticed that when asking a store owner, customer, or clerk about the uses of a then unknown food ingredient, they would light up and barriers would fall away. These conversations have led to meals created together, teachable moments for me, and yet another reminder that cooking is craft -- a form of mastery that is designed to nourish and engage us individually and communally.
I welcome you to join me in this exploration...a form of foraging that extends beyond field and forest to my community.
When drawn in concentric circles from my home, the foraging begins on the gorgeously food-rich Washington Boulevard in Pasadena and moves outward through Pasadena, the San Gabriel Valley, and the east side of Los Angeles. The journey is purposely honoring of lesser traveled neighborhoods, where the smallness of a store may be easily overlooked, where a recipe has been handed down to us through the generations, and where the ingredients are truly a mystery. I look forward to our learning together.