Time to define yourself

We all go through phases of deciding who we are, what we stand for, and what makes us tick. It happens several times throughout our existence, not just once and done. Different experiences and interactions cause us to grow and evolve over time, which is a good thing. No one wants to be static and never-changing, but you also have to stay true to yourself. For me, that meant figuring out what it means to be a food groupie. Everyone has an idea of what a rock & roll groupie is, and sports fans are simply a rose by another name.

I have always loved food, and grew up watching the Galloping Gourmet and Julia Child on television (thanks to my mom). The start of Food Network was a dream come true when we finally got cable. All food all the time. Even before I actively started collecting cookbooks, I had a good selection of books and various pans/dishware to be able to cook and bake better. Food has always been a full contact sport in my family (I’ve mentioned this before, and will probably do so again), so becoming a food groupie was destined in the stars (or pots and pans, you decide). The last few years have been interesting in that I consciously made the choice to push my skills and knowledge regarding food and cooking. You never really quit learning, you just change the focus and intensity. Once I started meeting chefs and talking to other food enthusiasts, I knew I had found my happy place. I still have an office job that pays the bills, but there is always some part of my brain that is percolating an idea about a meal, how to make a snack, or whatever the ingredient of the moment is. I will talk about food with anyone at the drop of a hat. My husband or coworkers can vouch for that.

That time I double-dog-dared Alton in 2017.

The definition of “groupie” is is someone who is a fan of a particular band, singer, or other famous person, and follows them around. Saying you are a “fan” means you like, prefer, or are into someone, a thing, or a group. They are basically the same thing. My interpretation for being a food groupie means that you love food, like trying new dishes in an adventurous way, enjoy learning about food (history, ingredients, people), and collect items and experiences that relate to your culinary journey. I collect cookbooks (1200+ so far) and like meeting celebrity chefs when I can. It is also why I created the Worst Cooks bingo cards when Alton was the guest chef, and kept making them for the past year and a half. By the way, we need more shows with real home cooks (like me!) pairing up with actual chefs to compete. I can be very perky and animated when food is involved.

My husband is very patient with the amount of cookbooks and baking pans that I have, and he is also my #1 taste tester. It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it. It keeps things interesting to grab a random book and try a new recipe, and many of the older ones have short blurbs about the recipe or things about the time. They are a version of food history in their own right. If you are able, grab one of your grandparent’s old cookbooks and take a look. You can even ask an older relative if they have any recipes that they can make from memory. My grandmother was that kind of cook. She used “a handful of this” or “pinches of that”. One of my favorite things is that they measured out her recipes and translated her handfuls/pinches into regular measurements and created a cookbook for all of the granddaughters.

I like being a food groupie, and wear the title proudly (how many people can say they hauled their Kitchenaid to an event to have Fabio Viviani sign it?). It means I am an adventurous eater, and quite happily going down the rabbit hole of learning more about the industry and ingredients. Talking about food with other people makes us happy. If you doubt me, just ask someone where to get a specific dish or how to fix something. There might be disagreements on which is better (BBQ or chowder people, I’m looking at you) but it’s more of the “best team” vibe.

food groupie /fo͞od grü-pē/: person who loves food, likes trying new dishes in an adventurous way, enjoys learning about food (history, ingredients, people), and collects items and experiences that relate to their culinary journey

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