Update: You can vote for me by clicking "Vote For This Entry" on this page.
The food blog world is abuzz about FoodBuzz's Project Food Blog. Two thousand food bloggers will blog about their dinner party that made Martha Stewart envious, their food road trip that left Anthony Bourdain's travels in the dust, and their cake that made the Cake Boss swoon. But before all that jazz, every food blogger has to figure out what makes them unique and defines them as a blogger. In short, why do they spend every waking hour (and sometimes, every sleeping hour) thinking about food.
I've been thinking about this challenge for weeks, hoping inspiration would strike as I drank my third mug of coffee (What, it'd been a long week!), convinced my client wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt to court was a bad idea, and cooked dinner from the three ingredients remaining in my fridge at the end of the week. And yet, nothing. And then this morning, hours before I had to submit my blog's raison d'etre, I realized I don't need to come up with a catchy description of my motivation for blogging because I've always known the exact moment I fell in love with food. It is that moment that has shaped my love affair with food and defines me as a food blogger. Thanksgiving 1989.
My family had moved to Los Angeles, California from Karachi, Pakistan a few months ago. I was a "special" third grader who did not speak any English, so while the other kids laughingly rushed off to play handball during recess, a few other special kids and I went to an ESL tutorial taught by a lady who had clearly robbed Mr. Rogers's cardigan collection. During lunch time, we would hurriedly gobble the samosas, empanadas, and pierogies our immigrant mothers had lovingly packed so we could finally get our turn on the handball court. In hindsight, those lunches were the predecessors of the trendy ethnic food revolution so popular in the restaurant world today.
During the weeks before Thanksgiving, our class learned about the holiday and most importantly, the food associated with it. The teacher organized a Thanksgiving potluck where parents brought in their favorite dishes and shared them with the class. And as I stared at those heaping dishes of relatively foreign food, I was convinced that my family would be “American” if we had a dinner of perfectly roasted turkey, fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy, and a perfectly creamy pumpkin pie. Between me and my American Dream stood a large family of boisterous Pakistani women who took pride in their various salans and biryanis and were mortified at the prospect of a turkey with no curry. And true to form, on Thanksgiving day, they came bearing platters overflowing with lamb qorma, chickpea curry, and kheer, a rice pudding fragrant with cardamom and rose water. There was nary a pumpkin pie in sight and I was certain I was relegated to a life of being "special." As I sat in the corner and sulked, I saw my large family holding overflowing plates of food and lovingly teasing each other's cooking. I realized food had a comforting, magical power. It had created a little piece of Pakistan for my family thousands of miles away. My mom continued to pack samosas in my lunch until I convinced her that eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would make me no less Pakistani. Years later, my family proudly roasts a turkey for Thanksgiving (mind you, they insist on serving it with cilantro chutney and raita) and I continue to marvel at the power food has to make everything okay.
This blog is simply an extension of my eight-year-old self's realization. Food has allowed me to travel the world and make new friends, even when we didn’t speak the same language. It has convinced my friends that I love them because I’m willing to painstakingly decorate hundreds of sugar cookies at midnight for their birthdays, engagements and weddings.
Food has shown my family that I will honor their special days by throwing parties with a heaping table of food and a centerpiece of an all too weird towel cake, if the cousin and bride-to-be is a fan of towel cakes (D, for the last time, why would you want a towel cake when I could’ve made you a lovely REAL cake?). It’s helped me maintain my sanity after a full day of court hearings representing clients who wear feather boas to court. And most importantly, food has allowed me to honor my cultural heritage by creating dishes that are a little bit American, a little bit Pakistani, and a whole lot of delicious.
So, this blog is for that nerdy, little immigrant girl with the absurdly huge pink glasses (thanks a lot, Mom), who came to the US intent on being as American as possible when she recognized the true power of food. Food allows all of us, Pakistani, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, German, and every other ethnicity in search of the American Dream, to make a home in the US and be American in our own little way.
Vote for me by clicking "Vote For This Entry" on this page. You do not need a food blog to vote but you will need to register for FoodBuzz, an awesome foodie community that you should really be a part of anyway! I hope my bravery in posting this horrifically nerdy picture is enough to win your vote :)