Not a foodie
Wikipedia defines a foodie as someone with an ardent or refined interest in food, who lives to eat, not eats to live. I have never been known to go bonkers over food. I am a walking example that people who do not love junk food do exist.
I find fried food very unappetising. I never had a sweet tooth. Too much oil in anything repels me. I do not like eating out too often, and am a sucker for home cooked meals. Appearance wise, I am thin. My dad thinks I am crazy. Basically, nobody would ever identify me as a foodie, including me.
However, there were some things about me that belied my own identification of myself as "not a foodie". When presented with food that actually appeals to me, I can eat as if I have a stomach the size of a juggernaut.
I love to surround myself with people who love food, even when I myself do not splurge on food the way they do. Maybe it gives me permission to be naughty with my food choices. Maybe it's a way of scavenging their leftovers. Maybe I just love people who genuinely love something.
Self-proclaimed foodies (such as Dad) look at me and shake their heads. How much this girl is missing out on, they think. I have often looked at my plate and wondered the same. Until I decided to try out a mostly plant-based diet.
I do not know why I did it. I've just always loved vegetables and fruits, and I wanted to allow myself an opportunity to experiment with them more. I do not want to label myself as vegan or vegetarian. I still have animal products now and then when I am out.
Something happened to me when I started spending more time contemplating fruits and vegetables. I found the beauty in raw foods. Traditional Bengali food (except for bhorta) involves overcooking ingredients to a point where a lot of the nutrients are gone. The heavy spices we use also tend to overpower the natural taste of things. I am not saying I munch on raw broccoli as a snack. I mean raw tomatoes on toast, raw spinach in your smoothie, lightly stir fried carrots in your wok, that kind of thing. Now that I have allowed myself to explore a plant based diet, I find myself tasting fruits and vegetables, and really loving them, in a way I did not before.
This is going to sound extremely cheesy, but when I have something raw, I really do feel a close connection to the elements, perhaps to the ways humans were meant to be, before packaging and preservatives and additives changed us into machines. When you consume something pure, you have to monitor it, ration it out, see that it does not go bad in the fridge. You get to taste its true flavours, and experiment to see what other flavours complement it.
I finally realised how much I love food. I love exploring the different varieties of fresh produce out there. I love making desserts that use natural ingredients and leave out the soda, the powder, the colouring - all of which have complicated chemical names that we do not know the meanings of.
I love blending all the fruits I can find in my pantry into a smoothie, and being amazed at how they always end up tasting out of this world. Who knew food that's good for your body is also not only good for your mind, but tastes so damn good too! Why this information has been hidden for so long boggles my mind.
Foodies proclaim that food is a spiritual journey. I find happiness in my food every single day. The only difference is, I ended up finding that spirituality in the aisles of the fresh food market full of nature's gifts instead of a restaurant. How beautiful is that?
So yes, I'm a foodie too.
By Mehereen Aziz