It’s hard to pinpoint when I fell in love with cooking. I’ve always loved food, especially desserts and Asian cuisine, but I haven’t always cared about the production side of it.
In high school I started watching the Food Network after getting home from school. I quickly developed favorite chefs and shows. I was drawn to Giada De Laurentiis’ “Everyday Italian” show because of her mixture of traditional cooking methods with fun ingredients and twists.
One of the first intensive dishes I made was Giada’s sweet potato gnocchi with maple cinnamon sage brown butter. It’s a difficult recipe. Making gnocchi involves boiling potatoes, mashing them, mixing them with other ingredients, and forming them into the characteristic little dumpling. It took me hours to make, but me and my friends devoured it all when it was done. It remains one of the best meals I’ve made.
It’s easy to remember how I became a vegetarian. When I was 4 years old I saw the film “Babe.” That movie really affected me! My mother was a vegetarian growing up, but she never made me become one. I remember her taking me to buy frozen chicken nuggets at Ballard Market while she filled the cart with vegetarian ingredients. At that age, I hadn’t yet made the connection that chicken nuggets came from chickens. Seeing “Babe” brought it all together for me. I suddenly realized that all meat had once been an animal, “with eyes,” as I said back then.
I’m not of the belief that everyone should be vegetarian. I care about animal’s rights, but it isn’t necessarily the foundation of why I am vegetarian. I still eat fish (90% of the time salmon), and some shellfish on occasion, but they aren’t a consistent part of my diet. Plus, I only started eating them within the last few years. Technically, I guess I’m a pescatarian, but my diet is heavily vegetarian.
Regardless of labels, I think a vegetarian diet can be healthy, fulfilling, and beneficial for many. There are so many protein sources besides meat. Being vegetarian inspires me to be more creative with my food.