Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

Twenty Years Ago


“Twenty years ago I struck out on my own
Couldn’t tell me nothing I didn’t already know.”

Twenty Years Ago by Montgomery Gentry

Food changes. And food changes people. When we’re young there are foods we would never dream of eating, and things we ate then that we haven’t tasted again in years. Food changes how people interact with each other. Put a roomful of people together without food or drink, and the conversation seems forced, with no one being sure why they are there. Produce – as if by magic – a platter of hors d’oeuvres, or a bottle of wine, and people immediately loosen up. Friendship flows as freely as the wine. Now they know why they are here. Maybe it’s not for the food, but for each other. However, for that evening, the meal is what binds them all together.

Food changes people’s perception of the world around them. Try an exotic dish and you suddenly start thinking about the people who made it, the culture that gave birth to it’s ingredients, the language of the people who cooked the meal, and you want to travel there. Sometimes, usually most of the time, the best food isn’t found in a Michelin starred restaurant, but in someone’s home. Food changes our perception of ourself – there are few things that match the pride which goes along with seeing your guests enjoy the meal you prepared for them. Food changes… as we change.

Twenty years ago I cared little for what I ate, paid minimal attention to how it was prepared, and never once attempted to venture into the kitchen of our home (I wouldn’t have been allowed to anyway). The list of what I wouldn’t eat was about as long as what I would. Food changes. Sometimes, it changes us.

Twenty years ago…

  • I had never tried sushi
  • I had never eaten raw oysters or escargot
  • I had never cooked a meal, for anyone
  • I didn’t really care for spicy food
  • I never finished my vegetables at dinner
  • I thought the best mac n’ cheese in the world was an unearthly shade of orange and came from a box
  • I thought the propane grill in our backyard was solely for cooking hamburgers
  • I had never tasted wine
  • I disliked baking
  • I had never grown a garden
  • I knew time wasn’t to be wasted, but knew nothing of the proper use of thyme
  • I thought garlic salt was fancy seasoning
  • Serve me a plate full of head-on shrimp, and I would send it back to the kitchen and tell you to kill it first because I don’t like my food staring back at me
  • I had never sucked the head of a crawfish
  • You wouldn’t catch me dead getting up early on Saturday morning to go to the Farmer’s Market
  • I had never heard of Wagyu
  • I really, truly, thought pizza was Italian food
  • I was surprised to find out European hotels didn’t serve eggs and pancakes for breakfast
  • It never would have occurred to me that fruit could be a dessert
  • I had never inhaled the aroma of sour mash at a bourbon distillery
  • I was only interested in food when I was hungry

This weekend, in Lexington, KY, the Bryan Station High School class of 1989 is holding it’s reunion. Suffice to say not a single one of them has any memory of me ever cooking for them back then or even being interested in food. Food blog? Award winning tailgating competitor? You’re joking right? What do you mean the most expensive thing in your house is in your kitchen? You just shelled out how much money to fly in lobster from Maine? And what the hell is Sauternes anyway?

It’s been twenty years.

Food changes. People. Places. Experiences. Food changes everything.


One response

  1. Janna

    Missed you on Saturday! It was good to see how much/little had changed with so many of us!

    August 5, 2009 at 2:51 am

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