I remember the last time we had peanut butter in our house growing up. Sitting on the tiled floor of our kitchen, I held the jar in my hands and I knew that this was something we had to do. Never again could we have any nuts (especially peanut butter) in our home. It was too dangerous, too much of a risk.
This came after a few incidents where my older sister had, by accident, consumed peanuts and had ended up with a severe allergic reaction. Her throat started to close, her breathing would become strained. The few (thankfully, very few) times that I’ve witnessed this, it’s been terrifying.
Unlike my sister, I have no allergies to food (nor to animals). But knowing someone who is deathly allergic to such foods, I am typically more sensitive about this issue.
And there’s a reason why I say typically. Just a few weeks ago, I attended my first gluten-free event. When I first heard that the Big Summer Potluck was going to be a gluten-free weekend, I had a moment of hesitation. Really, how could a weekend without bread or cake or cookies be fun? What the heck were we going to eat?
The food blogger community is a tight group. Through Twitter, Facebook, and various other social networking sites, we bond over the things that we love in the world. For food bloggers, it’s mostly cooking related. But after a few chats about our favorite childhood dishes and various techniques for making French macarons, the conversation quickly switches to something more personal. These people that I’ve never met, and may never meet, know of my hopes, my dreams, my fears. We talk about our trials and tribulations in life, sometimes humorous and sometimes not.
When I lost my grandfather last December, I wrote a post here about the experience. The comments I received overwhelmed me. As the condolences poured in, I realized that these were just strangers… people who didn’t have to care, but did. Genuinely. And that meant the world to me.
I was reminded of all of this earlier this week when I read, via Twitter, that Jennifer Perillo, blogger-extraordinaire, lost her husband suddenly to a massive heart attack. The news has put us all in a state of shock. There is no way to understand the loss that she must be feeling right now. It’s not possible.
But I hope she knows that people are thinking of her, sending her millions of 8 second hugs (a little Big Summer Potluck joke).
I met Jennifer last weekend at the BSP and while we knew that we’d hit it off, I left feeling a special connection to her. First, there was the pickled watermelon rind that she served on Friday night. Really, truly inspired. I raved (drunkenly, but sincerely) about how much I adored these delightful little treats. Spicy, sweet, crunchy… it was an incredible sensory experience.
And then there is just Jennifer as a person. Energetic, outgoing, thoughtful. Someone you can immediately feel comfortable with. It was the first time meeting her, but I left the weekend knowing that we’d see each other again soon. And we will, Jennifer. I promise.
I wanted to chuck my camera in the trash the other day, but I knew it wasn’t my camera’s fault. After an hour of shooting this bowl of roasted corn, taking pictures in a multitude of locations around my apartment and backyard, I threw down the dish towel that was hanging off my shoulder and I gave up. Part of the problem was that I was hungry. But I knew that the real issue was that I was feeling insecure about my capabilities as a photographer. Could I really get the shot that captured the essence of the dish?
When I find myself in such a state, the best remedy is to take a step back. I stop what I’m doing for a little bit and return to the project when my head has cleared. This may not work for everyone, but it sure does the trick for me. And it is exactly what I did when I couldn’t get a good shot of this recipe.
After a few hours, I came back to it. The bowl just sat there and all I wanted to do was curse at it. “TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” On one hand, I was glad it didn’t respond to my plea, but I was still left without an answer. And if it wasn’t going to guide me, I was going to start chowing down. It began with a nibble… then a scoop… and quickly turned into devouring half the bowl (I told you I was hungry).
A couple of minutes later, I was left peering down at this half eaten dish, thinking to myself “What the heck have I done? I haven’t even gotten my shot.” Then I realized this WAS my shot. I took my camera out again and got in close. Was it exactly how I had dreamt of it turning out when I started? No. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.