Last week my mother flew in from California for a week-long stay on the farm. Despite the fact that I was 45 minutes late picking her up at the airport, itÂ had startedÂ to snow, and she really, reallyÂ needed to pee, two seconds after a big hello hug she said, "I want to show you something!" and excitedly dove into her carry-on bag.
With a triumphant smile she pulled out a plastic container the size of a sandwich and carefully pried off the lid, murmuring that she hoped "they didnâ€™t get smashed." Nestled inside the container were six exquisite petits fours. Three looked like tiny pastel-colored, gift-wrapped packages, and three were shaped like animals. If I had squealed any louder I probably would have been escorted from the terminal by airport security.
Because I provide my mother with everything from overalls and turtlenecks to work gloves and rubber boots during her farm visits, there is plenty of available space in her luggage for transporting other, more important things. So along with the petits fours she arrived bearing two boxes of Seeâ€™s Candy (custom-packed with my favorite varieties), The Garlic Loversâ€™ Cookbook Volumes I and IIÂ (which look absolutely delicious), a couple of baking books, the empty container that had held her homemade lunch, and 26 freshly picked limes from the little tree in her front yard. She never travels without an ice pack and a small insulated zipper pouch and once presented me with a chilled piece of pink and white wedding cake she'd nabbed from a recently attended wedding reception.
Since there is no point in returning home with an empty suitcase, when I dropped my mother off at the airport yesterday her various bags were painstakingly crammed with four blueberry bran muffins, tenÂ cranberry scones, a bag of baby coconut cookies, two dozen molasses spice cookies, four chocolate walnut streusel bars, two apricot almond bars, two blueberry almond bars, half a dozen experimental ginger crunch things Iâ€™d made using a recipe clipped from a 1999 issue Gourmet magazine, a hunk of Chocolate Emergency Cake, a homegrown lamb salami sandwich on Farmhouse White with thinly sliced sharp cheddar and lots of mayonnaise, and two cans of pie cherries she found at the supermarket (because they cost so much less than they do back home). She once carried home a container of leftover roast leg of lamb and four loaves of my sourdough bread.
As you can see, foodieism runs in our family--and the secret is out. Obviously knowing I would have the answer, last summer a young visitor left this concerned comment on my food blog, Farmgirl Fare:
"This may sound a bit ridiculous coming from someone who has only just made her first batch of granola, and who only recently discovered breadmaking, but...... what are some of the symptoms of becoming a foodie? I fear I am beginning to develop them. Please, do tell!"
Rather than simply list a few of the characteristics that I personally think classify someone as a foodie, I decided it would be much more fun to put the question to my readers.
"Iâ€™m sure there must be more concerned eaters out there who are simply afraid to speak up (or admit they have indeed become one of us)," I told them. "For their sake, letâ€™s define a foodie."
Here are just some of the responses I received. (Click here if youâ€™d like to read the rest.)
You know youâ€™re a foodie if. . .
--Youâ€™ll only eat chocolate your Dutch friend brings you directly from Holland (unless it is a DIRE emergency, and then youâ€™ll resign yourself to a local specialty shop).
--You own five or more kinds of vinegar.
--You own five or more kinds of salt.
--You put the final touch on a dessert by saying "It just needs a little orange blossom water," and you actually have a bottle of orange blossom water in the cupboard.
--All the magazines you subscribe to are about food.
--Youâ€™re lying awake at night because you canâ€™t sleepÂ from the excitement of conjuring up a new recipe.
--Your first word (before "mama" or "dada") was "cookie"--and your spouseâ€™s first word was "cheese."
--You work at a bookstore, and when one of your colleagues excitedly tells you that five gorgeous young men have arrived, wearing only aprons and tight boxer shorts, to promote a new cookbook, your response is: "Ooh, did they bring food?"
--You return home from a family Christmas and take your entire bag of presents straight to the kitchen to unpack it.
--Your husband is embarrassed to take you out to eat because of the moaning noises you make while eating something incredible.
--You just wonâ€™t stop fiddling with old family recipes--and your mother actually thinks yourÂ versionsÂ are better.
--Before traveling to a new destination, the first thing you do is scour the Internet (and your friendsâ€™ brains) for information on the local dining scene.
--All your friends who are traveling call you first to ask if you know a good place to eat at their destination.
--Your husband has put you on a condiment moratorium, telling you that you must use up all the fancy-ass stuff you buy when you travel before you bring home any more.
--When you walk into Sur La Table with your teenaged daughter, she calls it "The Mothership."
--Some of your best friends are farmers, ranchers, and chefs.
--Your family knows better than to touch a beautiful plate of food until youâ€™ve had a chance to photograph it.
--Youâ€™ve caught yourself dreaming of food and chewing it in your sleep.
Are you a foodie? How do you know? Was there some defining moment in your life when you realized you had crossed over the line between living on food and living for food--or did you gradually just keep coming down with more and more symptoms until the diagnosis was blatantly obvious?
Do you routinely harvest dinner in the dark? Has it been suggested to you that if you want your salad that fresh perhaps you should be out grazing with the sheep? After a week long visit with your mother, did your significant other turn to you and say, in a slightly uneasy whisper, "All you two talked about was food!"? Those would all be me. So what about you?
Farmgirl Susan, Food Correspondent:
Susan's column, "In The Kitchen With Farmgirl Susan," is published on Thursdays to Gather Essentials:Food and takes a Less Fuss, More Flavor approach to comfort food, seasonal eating, & organic kitchen gardening. SusanÂ is a cultured California chick who happily turned manure mucking farmgirl. She now lives on a 240-acre remote Missouri farm with sheep, chickens, two dogs, seven cats, an adorable donkey named Dan,Â & one very well fed farmguy. She shares stories and photos of her crazy country life at her blogs, FarmgirlFare.comÂ and InMyKitchenGarden.com.
Click hereÂ to find all of Susan's "In The Kitchen With Farmgirl Susan" articles, and click here to join her Gather network or subscribe to her Gather postings. You'll find Susan and other Food Correspondents plus celebrity chef content and plenty of other foodies at Food.gather.com.
Contents copyright 2007 FarmgirlFare.com.