Eating my way to home

If you read my other blog then you already know I am relocating from Boston to Kansas City. It's a big move, one undertaken for all the right reasons but still scary. A move like this opens up all kinds of questions: Will I find friends? Will I find community? Will I find anything to eat?

The first two questions will take more time to answer themselves (though I am quite hopeful) but the third, well, Kansas City is clearly a food town and I'm eating a space out for myself. If you follow me on foursquare then you know this already. If you don't, then please be patient. I don't want to recount every meal I've had in the last few days; I hope to revive this blog to include more of my eating adventures but, for now I want to think about what it means to be home, and to eat in a new home.

When we decided to move to KC, one of my first questions was Is there good food there, beyond BBQ? What I really meant was Will I be able to find comfort? Food carries such emotional weight, such symbolic meaning and we so rarely think about it explicitly. My relationship with food is complex - all of our relationships with food are complex, carrying history of family, community, health and illness - and one I need to know I can maintain and nurture, no matter where I live. Food helps me define home.

I began to think about what constitutes a home beyond a building in a town. Friends. Community. Food. I had a fair bit of control over friends and community, my actions would create those, but I didn't know if KC had good dumplings or a teahouse or pho or...what? What else constituted comfort when I thought about food?

So I began a list. Cooking is comfort. Good meals shared are comfort. Specific foods are comfort, some bought and others made. Access to good ingredients without spending a fortune is comfort.

And I am comforted. I found a house with a good kitchen, one that welcomes cooking. It's a few blocks from two Vietnamese restaurants and an Asian fusion place that makes wonderful wonton soup (and a great bookstore across the street). In the last few days I've had superb hummus, mind-blowing bbq, great soup and more. And there are farmer's markets here, throughout the winter. The grocery stores are cheaper and stocked with most of the ingredients I know, plus quite a few new to me. All of this together helps me feel at home, with my familiar tools at hand and mouth but enough novelty to encourage adventure.

As I write this I'm sipping excellent green tea in a teahouse. My stomach is full. I am comforted. My intricate relationship with food, comfort and exploration, moderation and plenty, will be maintained.  I can consider where I will put spices in my new kitchen. Where the fruit will wait, inviting us to eat it. What I will first cook.

There are adventures to come, but my core needs - friends, community and food - are being met. From this base I can ignore the lines, step beyond my comfort zone, and explore this new world. I am coming to feel at home, by mouth, by hand, by foot and eye. Yes, there are other things that will help (a gym, a library card, friends....) but I have begun to make a space for myself and, apparently, that space is delicious.

Tell me - what makes you feel at home? How do you define comfort? And what would you seek out, if you were to move 1500 miles away?

(c) 2013 Laura S. Packer


Jo said…
Easy! If I were to move 1500 miles away, I'd seek out you and Kevin!
Anne Crockett said…
You make me think about moving in a whole new way, and you make it sound enticing for one who has no desire to leave her present location! I am currently redefining what food means to me as I delete foods from my diet which are generally associated with comfort: wheat, dairy, and other grains. I need to find ways to make veggies and fruits into comfort food that rivals mac & cheese or pound cake!
Laura said…
Jo - you are always welcome at our table. Always.

Anne - veggie stew. With chickpeas. I can send a rough recipe if you like.

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