I have always been fond of cooking. As a kid, I enjoyed dabbling in the kitchen alongside my mom. Soon enough, I started to venture on board on my own, making either trusted recipes from a book, or the strangest experimentations (the results of which I would be the only one to eat!). I grew up to be a passionate cook. As an artist, I am enthralled by the whole process of cooking, with all it entails as techniques, tools and mastery. As a geek, I am fascinated by the science and enchantment behind this all. My relationship with my kitchen is similar to my relationship with my studio: I love my pots and pans as much as I love my pencils and brushes, and I always get that wonderful buzz whenever I’m creating something, whether in my studio or in my kitchen. I often find myself kicking off an “I-don’t-know-where-this-will-end” culinary whim, even if the clock is past midnight.
Now I wasn’t always into healthy food. As a matter of fact, and for more than half of my life, I had a diet that wasn’t exactly what I’d define as healthy, far from it. I grew up in the 80s’ Beirut, in the midst of the war, at a time where the quality of one’s diet was less a priority than surviving the bombs. In those days, any treat was welcome to bring a smile to your child’s face. My brother and I would run to spend our pocket-money on Kinder surprise eggs. Even though chocolates were much tastier and less “hazardous” back then, we got our share of 80’s crap treats, from the unforgettable slipper shaped colored S-bombs (S for Sugar), to the hideous put-barbie-to-shame-pink cotton candy; not to forget the myriad of (beyond) fluffy potato chips brands that went overboard with the “powder” technology novelty, ad nauseam – literally.
We were extremely lucky though that my mom was an adept of cooking, and her kitchen was very much alive (still is). In her way, she was a warrior to manage and enjoy feeding her family homemade hearty meals daily, when other families would be living on ready-made or delivered food.
Nevertheless, I found a way to develop a personal taste in food that I find, in retrospect, reductive, obdurate, and… well, not quite healthy. Early enough, I showed a pronounced penchant for bread and grains, that soon became so excessive it almost completely excluded the vast majority of other edibles. I refused to eat fruits (but fortunately liked vegetables), and never ate fish. During my teen years, I developed an aversion for meat and stopped eating it – unless its true consistency and flavour were camouflaged (hello processing!). Later on, and like most people in the modern world, I ingenuously followed the mainstream advice to cut on fats in my diet, and avoided those like the pest. I always opted for fat-free versions of anything when available, and succeeded in cooking very tasty food, yet totally devoid of fat, except for negligible amounts of cooking oil. I hope I will have the chance to tell you more about the impact of such eating policies in future posts.
Into my twenties, I got somehow adventurous to “try” things – things that were new for me but commonplace for everybody else, like strawberries or figs. To my greatest luck, I met a man who fought against my most tenacious food aversions, and made me love a great deal of delicious (and basic) foodstuffs, like onions, nuts or un-camouflaged meats. He would even gladly decorticate shrimps for me because, until today, I still can’t overcome that freaky look in their eyes and insect-like morphology. I thank this man, who is now my husband, for his unfaltering persistence and support 🙂
My relation to food began taking a different turn when I seemed to start developing intolerances to few foods. Being brought to eliminate certain products from your diet sheds a totally new light on food “practice”, be it cooking or eating. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease in December 2011, and found myself, in the beginning of the year, not just with a diet that was significantly different from my olden one, but with a whole new set of givens and considerations, especially when it came to baking, which is undoubtedly my all-time soft spot.
After realizing that, well into my new gluten-free life, I was still suffering from persistent symptoms, which had impaired my life in several respects, it became clear that the problem is much deeper and way more complex than mainstream medicine would like you to believe. I became aware that a passive approach (okay, I’ll just eliminate this and this and that) simply won’t cut it, and that I needed to take real action to address the root of the problem. To Heal.
I turned to the Gut and Psychology diet, better known in its growing community as GAPS diet. A very dear friend often commits the (very revealing) lapsus of calling it “Gasp” – because that’s how you’d react when you know what it is about. That’s also how I reacted when, a few days only after having started the diet, I was astounded to see tangible signs of recovery. I will be following this program for several months. So the adventure is not about to end any time soon, on the contrary, I am up for more bustle and a cascade of discoveries, which I am looking forward to sharing here.
I will be dedicating a category on this blog to the GAPS diet.
Two other categories you’ll stumble across will be The Gluten Case, where I’ll tackle gluten in the modern diet, gluten-free living, and of course Coeliac disease, and The Dairy Case, where I will post about the milk reality, non-dairy alternatives and raw milk.
In “Food for Thought“, I will not only share my views about eating, but will try bring to light some controversies about the food we eat you may want to be aware of.