By Izabella Balcerzak
I was a chubby baby.
Flipping through old photo albums, the three rolls of arm fat that led up to my elbow revealed just how well-fed my Polish immigrant family kept me (I was never cold).
Eventually at the age of eight, I developed a weird fascination with salads. I became a “health freak” and only ate tomatoes and leafy greens for dinner, but my unsatisfied appetite finally won me over and I learned to love food again.
Contrary to Polish stereotypes, my DNA is only partially linked to pierogi, borscht and potatoes. Over the years, living on my own and with various roommates, I’ve experimented with spices, tastes and textures. I have even inadvertently become a student vegetarian because buying meat is too damned expensive. This is when I realized the importance of enjoying food.
Even though there are times I forget to eat, I try to remember to enjoy the bites I take because food shouldn’t be eaten just to survive. You should want to discover what the darkest chocolate tastes like and figure out if snail is really all the French make it out to be. There are so many tastes that have yet to be felt by the tip of your tongue.
Food is a social activity. It’s what unites us with the oldest civilizations. You can tell a lot about a culture by what and how they ate. Were they sitting around a table with close family, or staring at their laptop screen watching the latest Netflix series with microwavable dinner?
In Italian culture, for example, dinner is the most important part of the day, especially on Sundays. I work in an Italian restaurant and my Sundays usually consist of watching other families get together for a nice meal, with me wondering if the extra cash is really worth it?
I invite you to indulge in our first Food Issue where we hope to make your taste buds dance and your stomachs grumble as you flip through each page. You’ll read stories on how food relates to culture, drugs, a mother’s eternal love. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.
Eat, mangia and gobble up everything we have to offer in the next few pages.
If your family isn’t nearby, grab a friend and grub a meal. Even better, invite them over and make dinner together. As long as you don’t burn the place down, I can assure you it’ll be a tasty time. Sit down and relax every once in a while by a warm plate of food and good company.