Looking for spark [moved from General Topics board]
I, like many of you is the kind of person who lives to eat. My vacations are planned around food. Everything I read pertains to food; cookbooks, food writings, chef's bios, etc. I don't remember the last time I bought an article of clothing but somehow I always find money to try a new restaurant or increase my cookbook collection. But lately I've been in a dry spell. I recently became a mother and have moved back to my hometown, with my husband, which basically contains no food scene.
I am a pastry chef. I have my own business catering the dessert needs of all who desire. But I need something to spark my interest, to remind me of why I love what I do. I want to remember what it was like when I experienced my first taste of a white truffle. I want to experience that joy I felt when I bit into the most decadent chocolate dessert which was then washed down with a splash of port.
Anyone else feel the same? Any ideas?
I go thru those times. Here is what I do to combat the dry spells:
I get out a map of my area...throw a penny into the air and wherever it lands is the area I will drive to. I go alone. I listen to my favorite music in the car and decide that I will stop at the first interesting looking place that I see. I might have appetizers at one, an entree at another, and then dessert at another. If I only find one place...I do it all!
It inspires me, one way or another.
Is there a small grocery store, specialty food shop, kitchenware shop or something along those lines close to you? You could post a note asking like-minded foodies if they're interesting in getting something started. I don't know what's available in your area, but you could start a dining-out group, eating at different local places. Or a cooking group, meeting in someone's home. Or different members take turns to host a meal.
I know many craft groups that start this way. It's slow to get going but who knows how many closet chowhounders are out there?
My very diverse dinner group, of which I've been a member for 3yrs., has been in existence for 10, getting together about once a month. We not only try out new restaurants, but also attend food shows, benefits, "Taste of (supply town), etc. I have helped organize catered events at jewelers, crystal shops, artists' studios, etc. I love field trips to local purveyors, farms, bakeries, cheese shops, salumeria, gardens. Have also done ethnic meals, e.g pick a country or cuisine & have everyone contribute a dish, run a tapas party or ask your guests to each bring an starter from their own ethnic background.
Here's an idea: Start a garden. Choose unusual varieties of vegetables that intrigue you. Vow to find recipes that bring out the best of their flavor, and appreciate each one individually.
Here's another one: give up for a while and focus on something else. Read non-food related fiction. Watch classic movies. Teach the baby sign language. Take pictures. Whatever.
It will all come creeping back eventually.
After I got divorced, I completely lost my appetite for quite a while. I lost 17 pounds, stopped eating desserts, and subsisted on yogurt, bananas and cocktails. The more settled in my new life I became, the more I got interested in eating again. I took a food writing class, which involved trying a lot of new things, and ended up starting a food blog. Unfortunately all 17 pounds came back too!
Thanks for all the help. I already made a call to a good friend who feels the same way I do about food (she also is in a dry spell) and we are talking about getting a group together. We thought it would be fun to have theme nights (kind of juvenille but fun) Say for example "Thai Night" and everyone would have to bring a home prepared authentic thai dish. It would force us to do the research and then try something new.
Unfortunately trying new restaurants every time is not an option in my town seeing as how every time I go out it is so depressing because the quality of the food is so bad and people pay ridiculous prices for it. And we are surrounded by gorgeous farm lands with farmers who grow beautiful produce and so many of the restaurants continue to buy frozen produce from parts of the world I haven't even heard about. Frustrating.
Thanks again the help. I'm excited to see what comes of this.
Are you ready to start your restaurant? You could use all of that fresh produce and call it Sweet's Laundry.
If not, what about offering a series of pastry classes at a local kitchenware shop or community college.
What's the point of getting a group together if they don't know. Sorry.
I used to belong to a gourmet group and all the couples were very young, no kids. As time went on, the kids came along but we somehow managed to do co-op babysitting and still have our special food evenings once a month. Money was scarce for some couples, so we cut back on dining out and worked at devising menus we could prepare that were pleasing and not bank-breaking. The host couple decided on the theme and selected the entire menu from libraries and magazines. They mailed out all the recipes to each couple and circled the one they would prepare. We tried to organize it so the same couple didn't do the same course 2 months in a row. I made some good discoveries...cog au vin was not so tough to make, and pavlova shouldn't frighten anybody! On our Wolfgang Puck night I made sweet onion compote that took several tries, but eventually came out great.
One of the best evenings was a renaissance dinner. Some of the guys arrived wearing codpieces over their blue jeans!!! We used candlelight only - no electricity in the house during the entire meal with the exception of the oven light in the gas stove. The menu came from a library book called something like "Feasting with the Kings".
Hope some of these ideas can spark your interest.
Well, you could take a trip somewhere and try a lot of different foods, or sit down and write a book about food and stuff. It could be anything, essays, recipes, criticism, anything. I know, it sounds boring, but when you actually put things down on paper, it helps.
How about pulling an Ina Garton and opening a gourmet/ speciality food store? If you're already catering, you could use the space for selling, preparing foods, cookery classes/ demonstrations, etc. And then you can send your husband off to Yale and become a big Food Network star! :)
Try to eat lots of "umame" rich foods. Get some frozen pork buns or potstickers from a Chinese grocery, some black vinegar, and enjoy.