Had a fun morning as an “extra” at SALT Bistro in Boulder where they were filming a spot for one of the local morning shows. (You can see me and the fam in the first video at about the 0:37 mark.)
We got to partake of some excellent farm-fresh scrambled eggs; a gorgeous root vegetable hash, with new potatoes, beets, and carrots; and a couple of delicious gluten-free pancakes—not to mention a couple of mimosas to wash it down! Well worth the 6:30am call time!
But what really struck me about the morning was something I overheard from chef and owner Bradford Heap.
He said he was looking for that place “where flavor, locality, humanity, and nutrition come together.” He was trying to explain his beliefs about food to a group of guests. ”This is my church,” he told them. ”This is the church I pray at.”
And I have to say, I was moved.
I hope chef Bradford will pardon my eavesdropping on his conversation; I only wish I had heard the whole thing. Because it moved me. I wanted to jump up and say, “YES! AMEN!” I wanted to show myself a kindred spirit.
Because sometimes I feel a little silly being as passionate as I am about food.
Sometimes, even when I am being passionate about good food, that passion feels like a vice.
So, it was beyond refreshing to listen to someone talk about his passion for good, healthy foods. He talked about watching someone he loved deteriorate in old age, and he talked about not wanting to go that route. He said, “I’m eating today as if I have cancer, even though I’m perfectly healthy.”
This man who owns two of the best restaurants in Boulder County (and, in my opinion, two of the best in the state), believes that food is medicine. He believes in the power of food to heal, to prevent, to change the world. Not only that, he is living it. He’s gone gluten-free, and eats his greens and sources farm-raised everything for his restaurants. He is walking the talk.
But that’s kind of why I didn’t shout, “AMEN!” Sometimes I feel like a fraud. I too believe in the power of food, but I also don’t want to completely eliminate any foods from my diet.
My “sugar-free” experiment was a bit of a fiasco. I discovered pretty quickly that I really wasn’t willing to do the hard work required to eliminate something as ubiquitous as sugar completely from my diet. I did, however, do pretty well reducing the amount of sugar I was consuming. It was an achievement, and I’m going to call it that. :)
Do I believe there are health benefits to eliminating sugar from my diet? Probably. Do I believe it might help me shed these last 5–7 pounds that are clinging so tenaciously to my frame? Absolutely.
Am I willing to give it up?
So where does that leave me? Can I ever really call myself healthy if I’m still eating sugar and white flour and animal fats, regardless of how often or how seldom? Am I less of a gourmande if I choose to make “healthy” dishes a lot of the time instead of the gorgeous, full-fat recipes that grace the glossy pages of food magazines?
It’s a little strange to be out in the blogosphere where so many people have a strong niche—gluten free, or clean eating, or raw eating, or “real” food, or organic, or green juice, or vegan, or wild, or sugar-free—and I really don’t.
What does that make me? A fraud? A hypocrite? A foodie? An average joe?
I honestly don’t know. My philosophy on food sort of encompasses and yet transcends most of those niches. I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with any of them, but I don’t eat any one way all the time. Some days I’m 110 percent organic; some days I eat Velveeta. Some days I cook gluten free, for myself or my friend; some days I have three slices of sourdough toast for lunch. Some days I’m vegetarian; some days I eat meat. Some days I can avoid sugar altogether; some days I make a batch of chai whoopie pies (recipe coming soon!) and eat about six of them in one sitting.
So I don’t know what that makes me, other than me. But I believe in what chef Bradford was saying, about the power of food, and the power we assume when we choose it.
I believe in the place where flavor, locality, humanity and nutrition meet, and when I can, I choose foods from that place.
Because my table is my church, too. And good food is my prayer for myself, my family, and the world.