I recently found myself challenged to define myself as a food writer/blogger. Because it comes so naturally to me, I’d never before reflected upon exactly what drives me to write on this subject that seems to have chosen me equally as much as I chose it. Despite my having assembled a very small group of food-loving fans, it occurs to me that I’ve never properly introduced myself to my readers, or talked about the relationship I hold with cooking and eating that compels me to share as I do. Here, now, I correct that unintended omission.
I am a writer who eats. I am an eater who writes. I am the father of Flavorful World food and drink blog, a man in whom culinary experimentation was encouraged at a young age. My happiest childhood memories are of being a toddler with kind parents, both of whom didn’t just cook, but could throw down in the kitchen and were always willing to let me help their efforts by mixing ingredients, adding spices, and tasting each creation’s progress as we worked. The scope of my kitchen duties grew as I did. Soon I was chopping and seasoning unsupervised, using the stove, and creating simple recipes. As a young man growing up in New York City, that early food interest soon drove me beyond my own gastronomic backyard in search of cuisines exciting for being unfamiliar to me. The first time I tasted Thai food, Indian food, perfectly-grilled duck…these are experiences that shaped the person I’ve become. Without them, there would be no Flavorful World. This food blog exists to benevolently fly in the face of every person who, likely considering themselves a fearsome wit, has ever blustered, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”
To this sentiment I respectfully respond: “Nonsense.”
The implied criminality in “living to eat” (that is, in displaying what some would consider an elevated appreciation for edibles) remains beyond my understanding. People caution against it as if therein lies some character deficiency to which persons of quality should not sink, as if perceived excesses in enjoyment of one’s eating experiences denote misguided priorities. But I believe that only persons of quality truly understand the simple joy of biting into summer’s first ripened peach. Only those whose priorities are straight can know the real value of the moment you realize, upon sampling and loving a new dish, that you’ve just gained a source of gustatory bliss to revisit for the rest of your life.
Sharing this broader perspective through writing, photography, original recipes, and more is what Flavorful World is about; because food is capable of feeding far more than a rumbling stomach. Food is life; our well-being demands it. Food is art and magic; it evokes emotion and colors memory, and in skilled hands, meals become greater than the sum of their ingredients. Food is self-evident; plucked right from the ground or vine or sea, its power to delight is immediate. Food is discovery; finding an untried spice or cuisine is for me like uncovering a new element. Food is evolution; how we interpret it remains ever fluid. Food is humanitarian: sharing it bridges cultures, making friends of strangers pleasantly surprised to learn how much common ground they ultimately share.
A final example of what justifies my food writing and blogging: When I was in the first grade, my teacher once presented my class with a confidence-building exercise. She called on us individually, challenging each child to complete the sentence, “I know I’m alive because I can…”
When my answer was given, my classmates all laughed at what I said.
My honest response? “I know I’m alive because I can cook.”
I was six years old.
That is who I am.
My name is Anthony Beal. My world is flavorful.
I live to eat.