Edible Arrangements


When I was in kindergarten, we made a “my favorites” book. I don’t know why this memory sticks with me to this day so vividly, but when it came time to choosing my favorite food, I wasn’t just about to put down any old cliché five-year-old answer. Chicken nuggets were a popular choice, pizza, naturally, and obviously ice cream for the sugar addicted kiddos. But for young Sam, “white rice with butter” was where it was at. I drew little specks of rice grains in pencil, with a big ole pad of butter in yellow crayon. I remember being torn over whether or not to put down white rice or mashed potatoes. Clearly my love for starches started early on, but what kills me is how oddly specific it was. I know why I put that answer down. My mom often made her famous Beef and Rice Casserole, that I later dubbed “da bomb” casserole when saying “da bomb” was something I thought was insanely cool. Before she would mix everything together and put the casserole in the oven, she would set aside some fresh, warm white rice for me in a bowl and add a little butter for a pre-meal treat. And for me, that was complete and utter satisfaction.

I love food. I know a lot of people say this, but I really love food. I’ll devour a rare filet at a Detroit steak house, or mow down on tachos (that’s tater tot nachos for you fancy folks) topped with extra guacamole.  I was not a picky child. I grew up trying new things like duck pâté and spinach pies at fundraisers my parents would throw. I was a classy little animal…except when it came to water chestnuts. Who needs them? They taste like crunchy water. And who would wrap a delicious piece of bacon around a clear, inedible ball? 

What I didn’t realize until I got older however, is that the process of cooking itself is really quite an art form. They call it the culinary arts for a reason. Hosting, cooking, and watching people react after taking a bite of a new recipe are all things I find insanely gratifying. My parents are quite opposite in their approach to cooking. My mother is extremely organized, and her meticulous and methodological approaches result in consistently great food and phenomenal baking results. My father often takes the wing-it approach, throwing together a kickass batch of chili with some jalapeño cornbread to boot. I was lucky enough to end up as a perfect blend of both. I love pinning and following recipes, but I’ll improvise now and then. Sriracha pretty much makes everything taste better, so I don’t need a recipe to tell me as much.

I also love photographing food. I’m most definitely an amateur photographer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people on Instagram unfollow me for all of the food pics I post, but I can usually set up at least a decent composition. And hey, you all get your cat pictures and your baby photos, let me have this! I love looking at awesome photos of food. I find it absolutely enthralling to compare restaurant menus and websites. I can usually guestimate with decent accuracy how long a new pop up food court spot in the mall will stay open, just based on their branding and photography alone. I love binge watching the Food Network, and I enjoy running through the kitchen sections of World Market and Pier 1. It is a creative outlet I didn’t even realize I had.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that instead of referring to myself as a glutton, from now on I’m going to embrace cooking (and eating) as a form of creative expression. Some may consider this a stretch, but it makes me feel better about my obsession with cheese and love of late night snacks. 

Samantha NovakComment