Learning to love food

Published in FSD Update

My new self challenges for a new city.

By Becky Schilling, Editor

This past month has provided—well, forced might be a more accurate word—time for serious self-reflection. It’s amazing all the things you find when you have to pack up all of your belongings to move to another city. (I recently moved to Chicago, where FoodService Director’s editorial offices are now located.)

One of my most treasured possessions is a plaque that has a quote from Abraham Lincoln embossed on it—“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The plaque hung in my grandmother’s doorway for years, and after her passing, it was something I asked to have.

As I was packing up the plaque I thought, “If grandma were to find out I was the editor of a publication about food, she would be laughing right now.” As a child I was an incredibly picky eater. I ate foods covered in cheese—I still love a good mac and cheese recipe (see p. 62 for some ideas)—and that was about it. If there was meat in something, good luck trying to get me to try it.

All of this must have frustrated my grandma, though she would never let me know. You see, my grandma was a celebrity chef. Well, sort of. Back in the ’50s my grandma had a cooking show on the local PBS station in Oklahoma. It was a program put on by the local gas company called Looking and Cooking. My grandma wasn’t a chef by any means, but she knew her way around a kitchen and her cooking was often the center of our family gatherings. 

I’ve grown up a lot in my food repertoire in the past 15 years, something I’m sure my grandma thought would never come. And yes, just in case you’re wondering, I do eat meat. I’ve tried all kinds of food that the 10-year-old version of myself would never have swallowed, but it was recently pointed out to me that even with that progress, I still had a lot to learn about food. Which leads me back to my self-reflection project. 

I lived in New York City for six years. Looking back, I didn’t take full advantage of the city’s culinary offerings. It wasn’t that I didn’t eat out often—or as often as a recent graduate student with student loans could afford. I simply found my favorite spots and kept going back. And I’d often order the same thing. I’ve decided that in my new city, that needs to change. So I’m going to challenge myself to try new places and order new dishes. I’ll keep you posted on my culinary challenge on my Twitter page (@bschilling_FSD).  And if you have suggestions of places I should try out, shoot me an email at bschilling@cspnet.com. If you happen to be in Chicago some day, let me know and you can join me on my adventure. Just don’t ask me to cook—that’s something even my grandma would tell me just wasn’t within my talent pool.