I recently watched a program that featured Rene Redzepi whom is the chef of Noma
This really changed my perception of food and what I should be doing with it. Culturally we grow up with certain foods and food related traditions. They become commonplace to us. For me as a child born in the late seventies in the US this meant we already had mass market foods - processed foods, trans-fats galore, ingredients flown in from all of the place regardless of season. Not to mention the industrial convenience/fast food that sprung up. As part of my culture I consider many of those foods to be comfort foods as they were things my mother provided to us with love and every good intention of nutrition, or in other ways associated with memories of my childhood.
Still, this mass market aspect has decoupled our culture from our environment. Jamaicans living in Nebraska are likely to be able to get spiny lobster, plantains, jerk spices, etc. although they won't be sourced locally or necessarily fresh. I think this is a blessing of modern life, but as I have continued on my own journey to explore food it can get a bit muddled when there are no limitations. I can at my local grocer source products to cook african, asian, french, south american, indian, american, etc. foods.
I think that is great for most of us. We can also play with lots of techniques that are being created in modern cuisine that don't belong to a single culture or influence. Yet I feel disconnected at times. After watching Rene, and understanding his philosophy I think I know why. Maybe it's different for me than others. I was born where I still live, and by choice I have remained here. I love my environment and want to appreciate it even more through the culinary potential it has.
I feel like I need to step back from the grocery store, and step into the forest, walk along the beaches, or freshwater shorelines and force myself to use my environment as an ingredient. Florida obviously has wonderful seafood and freshwater game. I also want to try to incorporate things like hickory nuts, wild garlic, "duck potato", etc. Then there are going to be some things that are maybe harder to appreciate. Mullet roe? It would be difficult for me to jump into that but I think it is a gem in our resources and so I feel like it's ME that needs to change and appreciate those things. More so to challenge myself to take what is available around me and create dishes that are still enjoyable to a person that grew up eating pizza and drinking chocolate milk, yet represent the essence of where I live.