TavBlog Food Week Winter 2020
Updated: Sep 21, 2021
If you’ve ever spent time with me, you know that I start asking “what’s for lunch?” as soon as I’ve digested breakfast, and “what are you making for dinner?” is one of my favorite conversation starters. My memories of family gatherings, which always included family friends too, are all anchored by the delicious food, as well as the stories the not-so-delicious food garnered (think sight-challenged great grandmother making deviled eggs with shells ALWAYS pawned to the unaware). The feelings around those memories range from pride in our collective palates and skill set, to recognizing over-indulgence and the inadvertent gluttony that most of us share. I used to say that “Carduffs live for food,” feeling a deep satisfaction around the penchant for entertaining that runs in the family, and the good times and vibes that it generated. As time has gone on, and I’ve watched many of us struggle with varying issues around food, I have had to rework my fond memories. It turned out, these things that I loved so much about my family were doing us all some physical harm, and it wasn’t really being acknowledged or addressed - especially out loud.
My grandfather developed weight-related diabetes and heart issues that did nothing to prolong his life, but Jack Carduff enjoyed sharing food and stories with friends and family more than anything, and I don’t believe he would have traded those treasured moments for his health, even though he was gone before any of us were ready to say goodbye, including him.
My grandparents loved Mexico, and spent a good deal of time enjoying its culture, as well as it’s beaches. They brought a taste for the cuisine and MANY souvenirs back home to Kansas City with them, filling the back patio of their home with the essence of Mexico and their kitchen with regular mexican feasts. I recall a large can of lard with a permanent home on their counter next to the stove, and I can’t imagine how much of it we consumed as a family - with lovingly prepared care and happy intentions.
I was an adult by the time I was able to go to Mexico myself, but the culture-rich environment they created at home established my own strong connection to Mexico that had formed before I ever set foot on the land. When I walked out of the airport and into the heat for the first time, I felt a connection to roots that were already planted in the heart and soul of Mexico. The flavors were fresh and the sights and sounds pungent, a contrast to the winter I had just left in Kansas City. Because so many “memories” had traveled back from Mexico with my family in their pictures, stories, and most importantly, THE FOOD, I immediately felt at home and at peace. To this day, my favorite meal is black beans, chips, salsa and guacamole (prepared in Mexico). As hard as I have tried, I can’t replicate the perfection of their flavors at home, although I very much enjoy the fruits of my effort! The limon just doesn’t retain it’s unique flavor as it moves further north, naturally reserving its own “special occasion” category.
My grandparents built the family life they dreamed for themselves and lived it with heart and gusto. I could judge them for their choices and the effects it has ultimately had on my family’s genetic health, or I can look at where their intentions were truly focused - on loving and caring for family and friends. I can accept the “food roots” of myself and my family with my heart wide open, tweaking cherished recipes with healthy alternatives to evoke memories and flavors from the past, while holding the entire evolution of each experience with gratitude around it’s wholeness. Each member of my family, as well as our dear friends, are forever linked to these roots that will extend for as long as we exist. Focusing on those types of thoughts, my heart stays full and my digestive system stays nourished, avoiding frequent over-indulgence. A modern approach for traditional intentions.