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What I Learned About Food in 2010

Jan 06, 2011 08:26PM ● Published by Anonymous

2010 was a big year for me, food-wise. I went from being an entertainment editor who wrote a weekly food column for the newspaper and a food blog in her free time to a full-fledged food editor for a magazine. I moved from a relatively desolate area, when it comes to good food and restaurants, to an actual city with some delicious restaurants (as much as some Annapolis residents might complain about the city's culinary landscape). I read a lot of food blogs, food magazines, and food sections in newspapers both large and small. I went to food festivals (both successful and not-so-successful — Annapolis Food & Wine Festival, I'm looking at you here), beer festivals, and wine festivals. Most importantly, I continued to experiment in my kitchen, using techniques, ingredients, and equipment I've never dealt with before.

And I learned stuff. I learned a lot of stuff—stuff I probably should have already known; stuff that's grown out of a national discussion of food safety, obesity, and politics; and stuff that probably really doesn't matter in the long run. Here's a rundown, in no particular order, of what stood out in my great culinary education of 2010.

1. When it comes to exercise, food can make or break you.

I have never thought about food so much as when I trained for a half-marathon. But this wasn't the fun type of thinking about food, like imagining what sort of frosting would be best for the double-chocolate cake I just made. Instead it was figuring out if I had enough carbs in my day to complete that 8-mile run, what the best combination of protein and simple carbs would restore my muscles and glycogen supplies afterward, and so on. The days that I didn't eat properly, I felt it in my runs.

2. At the grocery store, I should always buy the following ingredients because I always need them: Olive oil. Broccoli. Whole-wheat pasta. Diced canned tomatoes. Cayenne pepper. Chicken broth.

Oh, and another thing. Chicken broth is worth its weight in gold. Always buy more chicken broth.

3. People care about where their food comes from. You might call it "slow food," you might call it being a "locavore," but it's potayto-pohtahto here because this is an issue that's not going away. While there are still plenty of folks out there who don't care where their tomatoes were grown (I prefer right here in Maryland, thanks), more and more consumers are asking food manufacturers and/or restaurants for better food grown nearby and without chemicals. Sure, it's more expensive, but many industry experts say that what you pay for organic vegetables or hormone- and antibiotic-free meats is the true cost of food. I'm inclined to agree.

4. Tomatoes should not go in the fridge. I might have learned this in 2009, but I have to remind myself every time I get home from the grocery store.

5. But onions should. A cold onion is less likely to make you cry when you chop it. True story.

6. Trying new food is a good thing. Though I've never been a horrendously picky eater, there are certain things I've always preferred not to eat. (Beans.) But recently, I've just made myself let go and enjoy trying new things, not always trying to pick out what that new ingredient might be. I've made huge gains in the realm of sushi (though I don't fancy eel), tried chicken liver pate recently, and just generally say "yes" when someone asks me if I want to try something. I haven't died yet. (Then again, no one has tried to feed me beans.)

7. Food is really hard to photograph. Have you ever tried? I have the highest respect for our staff photographer, Tony Lewis Jr., because he makes food look amazing ... even if I have to wait an hour for him to set up the proper lighting for him to do it. If you want to try it out yourself, the New York Times ran a few tutorials in its food blog this year.

8. I have so much let to learn. The other day, someone taught me what a "capon" is—I don't often think about castrated roosters, so I really didn't have a reason to know what it is. Apparently, though, they're delicious. Who knows what else I will learn in 2011?

For the record, this posting was inspired by another blogger on The Huffington Post. Read the 7 things she learned about food in 2010 here.

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