Upon finding out about my very international background, somebody recently asked me which culture I prefer: Turkey, my native country, the US, my home for some 15 years, or France, my current home. It is a question I don’t usually ask myself since I probably praise and vilify aspects of all three cultures equally! I feel that I have the luxury to pick and choose as I see fit and incorporate the best of every place I’ve lived into who I am today.
This is especially true of food and food culture. While Turkey and France are known for their wonderful cuisines, I perhaps ironically owe my gastronomical curiosity and experimental palate to my time in the United States. It was there, more specifically in San Francisco and NYC, that I felt the excitement of having all kinds of cuisines at my fingertips. The idea that the latest wonderfully authentic delicious bite that I had to try was just a subway ride away was seductive indeed (Chowhound anyone?). This goes for the way I travel too; one of the first things I check out when planning a trip to a new destination is what foods this place has to offer better than anywhere else and where to get that. After all, we have to eat every day, even multiple times a day, no matter where we are or what we’re doing. I try to maximize those moments and get as close as possible to making every bite count.
People who meet me today wonder where my passion for food and natural health (and the intersection of the two) originates. While I’ve had this gourmet side for most of my life, it was during my pregnancy a few years ago that I became more and more mindful of eating well and its repercussions on health and well-being. This is when I became increasingly fascinated by the subject and started to read everything I could get my hands on. At some point all roads started converging and I eventually came to find my “truths” about how to strive for and hold on to optimal health.
My approach has also become more and more holistic, encompassing not only what we put into our mouths but also what we put on our bodies, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the nature we inhabit, the way we move every day and the community we build for ourselves…
Now a few years down the line, and with an incredibly energetic toddler in tow, I am convinced that our lifestyle has helped us immensely down the road to a healthier, happier family.
As I have become more knowledgeable, I have become increasingly tired of hearing the discordance between those who preach “healthy eating” on the one hand, with their self-abnegating ways, and the hedonists on the other – those who relish a hearty dish in lots of butter with some good wine. Well I’m here to say that the two ideals don’t have to be at odds and can even become allies — can we all agree that this is excellent news?!
I am perhaps uniquely positioned to comment on this owing to my tricultural background. Most of my research hails from the English-speaking world and I have also chosen English as the language for this blog so I can reach most people I know. Through my research and experimentation I have come to believe that most of our modern-day nutritional dogma is based on shoddy science. And that Michael Pollan puts it best when talking about our deeply omnivorous nature, and that vegetables, fruits, wild plants and animals all play their part in painting a complete nutritional picture for us human beings.
To add to the cultural layers, I am following all this against the backdrop of French culture where the world-famous gastronomical tradition is being challenged every day with this or that new trend from abroad (and this is usually a good thing!). But this is also a country where industrial processed foods have a firm grip on the population and most people do not notice, let alone question, ingredient labels. I quite often feel like screaming from the rooftops about all the misconceptions people have about nutrition and health. But as I recently heard a very wise man say, nobody listens when you’re shouting… So this little blog is my way of insistently whispering what have become my truths about life, health and happiness.
I would love for individuals and families to take away from this blog that many of the habits I talk about are not difficult to adopt and while some may cost more, others actually go against the purchase and consumption of entire product groups. And that food, real food, has the power to heal. I will be sharing some of our family’s tips and tricks as well as reflections on all these issues of food, culture and what the good life means. I do hope to speak to those from all walks of life, and not just young-ish parent types, since I strongly believe that this way of living is the best form of health insurance anybody can have. So let’s get cranking!