My passion for food started in college, many years ago when I was working towards my acting major in Chicago, IL.
I blame the free cable that my little visual arts school provided us in our dorms.
I often sat in the lobby, in front of the TV, watching the Food Network. I was there almost as much as I was in class. Rachel Ray, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten and Jamie Oliver as the Naked Chef were my instructors. I would bring a note pad and take notes. I would bring my acrylics and paint the food I saw on TV. I was fascinated with all of it.
My dorm-mates always knew when I was in the building.
The aroma of chicken or salmon or plantains permeated the all-girl dormitory. The rich smells would rise up to the 4th floor and my friends would gather round asking if I needed any “help”.
Eating, that is.
We had ovens in the lobby.
I’m not sure why, but I was sure grateful. I might as well have been at culinary school.
I took to that kitchen often, trying new recipes and gladly accepting bi-monthly groceries from my parents. Sometimes friends would bring something over to me when they wanted a “home-cooked” meal.
I was a broke, college student, without a car to get groceries but somehow, I always found a way of customizing my college food experience. I eventually got a steamer, rice pot and toaster in my dorm. I got crafty.
When my finance first met me 10 years ago, I was smuggling salami and cheese in my pockets from the school’s cafeteria. I was a rebel, and it was love at first cold cut.
OK. This is my naughty college secret: I would use my lunch card to enter the cafeteria and browse the salad bar looking for ingredients; deli meat, cheeses, tofu, vegetables, etc. I would then take my lunch ‘to-go’ and recreate something much better than the meager offerings that were slopped up in the lunch line. It was a really small school in the middle of a forest, so we didn’t have many food choices besides a Subway and a Denny’s 20 minutes away.
Thus, college was my training for taking control of my food.
I was taught to cook at a young age by my mom (“the concoction-specialist”), and grandma (“the fry-master”). I’m so thankful that my curiosity in the kitchen blossomed into what it is today. It is now more like a healthy obsession. I truly believe that everyone should not only learn how to cook, but to know how to cook the things that they like to eat, so they can have it whenever they want it.
We all have the opportunity to eat well. For most people, they do have a choice.
It’s not like you would have a stranger pick out your clothes for the day. Why would you let someone one else tell you what to put in you body? You should eat what you like.
No matter where you live, you have choices.
One does not have to eat junk food because that’s the only thing around. Sometimes you just need to get a little creative. Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of Top Ramen in my day, but I would add tofu, peas and broccoli and voilà! it’s a full meal.
At a restaurant, get to know your options. You do have them. Being in control of what goes in your mouth is the first step toward a healthy lifestyle. Especially, if you’re reading this and you are an actor, you especially need to look out for yourself.
Your body is your instrument, respect it. Eat well, live well. Bon Appetit!