I have two powerful visceral food memories that changed my relationship with flavor utterly. The first was my initial exposure to fresh basil, back in the late 1970s. Something inside of me stood up and said clearly in these words: "Now I am truly alive." I had no idea what I had been missing!
And that is an ongoing theme -- I had no idea what I had been missing.
In my 20s I cooked professionally, untrained as a chef, but I was daring and enthusiastic and made lovely food full of flavor. That was through the 1980s, before the heirloom food movement had become so visible.
Fast forward to the past few years... in my household we decided to grow as much of our food as we could, and to use only heirloom varieties of plants and chickens. And here comes my second powerful visceral food memory: eating heirloom dried beans. I cooked and ate over a half-dozen varieties of heirloom beans, one type per week, each prepared in the same way. I was totally blown away by the flavor and texture they had! And the differences between them. I kept saying to myself over and over again, "Where has this food been all my life?"
Well, the answer to that isn't simple, but this deeply and naturally flavored food is a part of my life, forever.
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