Saturday, February 21, 2009


When I moved to Deerfield, I was a sophomore in high school and like any teenager I was worried about fitting in. If I wanted any friends at all, I had to do what the Deerfield kids did - luckily this wasn't drugs, drinking, or unprotected sex. (In fact these Deerfield kids were disgustingly smart and over-achieving). But one thing that was popular with my new friends was pineapple pizza.
The first time I was invited over for pizza, it was a given that we were getting pineapple. Where was the pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, mushrooms, etc. I wondered. Those were the popular toppings. The pineapple, that was like the misfit, the Ally Sheedy of toppings.
Well I didn't want to be the misfit so I said nothing, ate my pineapple pizza and thought it was weird. And then the next time we had it, I was prepared and kind of used to it if not loving it. By the third time, I was enjoying it - and finding that this Deerfield place wasn't half bad.
How did this happen? How did pineapple pizza, something I had never conceived of at age 14, become one of my favorite pizzas to this day?
There's only one explanation - I was bellywashed. That's right - bellywashed. My stomach was brainwashed into believing that I liked this odd combination of sweet and savory. And I would never go back. That's what happens when you're bellywashed. Someone else's favorite food (often your significant other or roommate or person who just won't leave you alone) becomes your favorite food. At first you only eat it to be nice or to not make a fuss. The next thing you know, you're buying things like fresh fennel to roast, and never looking back.
That's my goal in cooking for friends. Yes, I want to make them food that they enjoy, but I also want to convert them to loving food that I enjoy. (Why do you think I write this blog?) And the funny thing is, when they begin to love it, I remember why I loved it in the first place. So when my friend Monika raves about goat cheese mushroom tarts with GOAT CHEESE in all caps, or my friend Katy repeatedly makes a garlic shrimp recipe I gave her or my dad keeps asking me to make risotto, I know they've been bellywashed. And that makes me feel like the popular kid.

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