Learning, reading and cooking from cookbooks helped me to become empowered in the kitchen. When managing my allergies I feel that cooking in my own kitchen is the safest environment. As a kid being exposed to my family cooking everyday was wonderful, and as I look back on my childhood, cookbooks were just as important. I never once felt that my edible world was small. Reading cookbooks opened my imagination, challenged my skills and gave me a freedom from anaphylaxis.
From childhood memories of forcing my mom to stay in bed while I made her breakfast in bed to working full time in professional kitchens, reading cookbooks stimulated my mind and mentally challenged my culinary foundation. I read about muffins and why not to overmix the batter. I read about marinating and how they helped create added flavour and balance. I read about seafood to gain knowledge about a product I would never be able to eat. The most important lesson I learned about cooking was that I could be in control of what I ate if I cooked it. And if opened my imagination in the kitchen I could create a world where I felt like I was not missing anything. I could ignore all those comments like “Oh my, what CAN you eat!” or “Meh, you are not missing anything, it is gross anyways.” Of course the challenge is with allergies to feel safe, maintain a nutrient rich diet and not feel excluded from group events. We do not have a choice to not eat something; we have a responsibility to put our health and safety first.
I am thankful to have been reading books from the library for as long as my memory can jog backwards. It was a weekly event in our house; my mom drove my brother and I to the local branch to pick up books to read (it was common to have as many as our arms can carry with our chins resting on the top of the pile). Man, I loved it. The only thing I hated was the smell of the carpet. That was my least of my worries once I got into the children’s section. Highlights were the blasting through the cookbook section by the age of eleven, twirling the paperback stands to find another book in the newest novel in a children’s series, and trying to ignore the feeling of nausea because I started to read in the car.
Thank you to all the authors and chefs for allowing us readers to read about wonderful dishes, create a sense of freedom and stimulate our own creativity.