I’ve been taking notice at how food has played a significant role in my life lately. Sure, it always has, but for the sake of length here, I want to quip about the recent revelations. I’ve experienced a lot of angst and confusion and frustration around food since the pandemic started. By mid-2020, I’d transitioned out of nearly six years of vegetarianism and found myself spiritually and emotionally drawn to comfort foods: from the quick, easy meals my mom used to make when I was young, to classic American finger foods—mostly fried— to the ramen bowls I constantly yearn for that were once incredibly rare in the city and now are ubiquitous. I grew up in the food deserts of West Philly—I didn’t know what “good” or “quality” food was until I was well into my twenties.
Now, as I steadily approach my forties still living in the desert, I’m rapidly becoming more and more curious about food. Not simply thinking of what fun recipes I can whip up on the weekend, but what food means from a cultural, social, and emotional standpoint. I’m seeing this happen serendipitously in a variety of small but significant ways: a colleague who I’ve only been working with a short time is already offering me tomato plants (I feel like that’s an intimate gesture, maybe that’s just me?). My YouTube algorithm is already shifting to more “foodtube” suggestions. I’ve been gradually adding new tools to my kitchen that have drastically changed the way I look at cooking and recipes. I’m actually enjoying going to restaurants instead of lamenting them—though it’s mostly because I’m more mindful of where I go, what I want to eat, and why. It’s like a new wave of self-nourishing, and the universe is giving me a hand in the prep process.
So of course, I’m moderating a panel with Check, Please! Philly host and food and travel writer Kae Lani Palmisano, journalist Alisha Miranda, and Inquirer’s deputy food editor Margaret Eby. While this has been in the works for some time now, the confluence of food revelations has me thankful: what once felt lacking is now in abundance—my stomach and my heart are full with good food and the people behind it.
You can sign up for the event by clicking here, and I hope to see you there!
Kyle V. Hiller
BSR associate editor