Fries before Guys
I’m beginning to think I have a slightly weird relationship with food. I’m either eating 2 minute noodle sandwiches or buying a single artichoke heart for $17. I’ve been known to eat two week old brown rice salad, there is always a packet of either hot cross buns or christmas mince pies in the pantry (depending on what half of the year it is), I make coconut water smoothies when I’m drunk, and buy the most expensive olive oil on the shelf. So last Friday night as I ate a slightly-still-frozen slice of supermarket pizza, I couldn’t help but ponder as to how I can consider myself a ‘Foodie’ yet can eat a $5 pizza in under 2 minutes. Because there’s no middle ground for me – like most aspects of my life, I’m all or nothing.
I’ve decided that this food lifestyle stems from a combination of two things. First, like any personality trait, I can attribute my attitude to food to my parents. My mother, a Murphy, has so kindly taught me how me how to eat an entire packet of chips before dinner. As an extended family, we are so obsessed with food that we are known to produce Christmas meals so extravagant that you have to have a leftovers party on Boxing Day, and then a leftovers from leftovers party the day after that. My father, on the other hand, is a Bain. The Bains really will eat anything. Time spent at the Bain household will be time spent scraping mould off the cheese for your cheese and marmite sandwich, and wondering whether a yellow broccoli ever killed anyone. After a life changing finding-maggots-in-the-ham experience as a child, I’ve almost sworn off pig for good (although even vegetarians love bacon).
The rest I attribute to staff meals. Staff meals will forever be the Bain of my existence (other than people using that expression about me and thinking they are total comedians). One day, we are eating fresh truffle pasta sourced from the wild English countryside and nek minute, it’s butter chicken made with ham and corn. Now don’t get me wrong, I am completely grateful for the staffies that our chefs kindly cook and owners generously fund, however they have given me a slightly warped view on food. They have taught me to grind extra salt over bread and butter, that gremolata really is just there to sound impressive and when in doubt, add harissa.
They have also taught my mind and metabolism a few key skills.
We waitresses have learnt to accept that breakfast will be at 4pm, there is often the presence of mystery meat (risky move when cooking for a group of people who will either Instagram it or slag it off in a blog), you only have 4 minutes to eat your weight in carbs because service falls apart the minute we sit down and, most importantly, everything will be stone cold. Just like an HB permanently behind your ear (the pencil not to be confused with my big sister, Hannah Bain) a poached egg soon becomes your best friend. Because you will be eating them every day, for the rest of your hospo life.
But because I have worked in such incredible restaurants, my extensive food knowledge means that when I dine out, I go hard or go home (Although usually I have to go home because I’ve gone too hard). Having eaten at some incredible places throughout the world, I couldn’t pick a favourite. I was privileged to meet a man who single handedly picks wild mushrooms for some of London’s top chefs, and then ate the shrooms for staff dinner. The excitement that he held for these little guys was so infectious that suddenly we were all swapping stories the next week about ‘this great mushroom I found at Borough market!’ And travelling has only fuelled this passion. I’ve eaten breakfast kebabs on the streets of Istanbul, picked figs from the side of the road in Greece, eaten ice wine chocolates at Niagara Falls (followed by a perfect Timbit From Tim Horton’s) and downed a pie in the Salvation Army carpark in Lower Hutt. My unintentional hobby (Yes, food is a hobby – my big sister told me so) has led me to some of the best experiences to date.
I’ve decided that being a foodie and food snob get confused too often. Us foodies are getting a bad reputation ever since almond milk became an option for our flat white and vegans started voicing their opinions. As a waitress, I witness every day something that once started as a hobby, turn to an obsession for so many people to the point where I’m automatically assuming that every table I serve will have at least one food ‘intolerance’ and one guest currently on a juice diet. When we do finally get a table of true eaters, eating burgers at 9am, we get so excited and overwhelmed describing the pea tendril to pasta ratio, that we just make a fool of ourselves trying to impress them, and thus the bad reputation continues.
I refuse to hide it anymore and am no longer ashamed. I like bbq flavoured Shapes to snack on while cooking a fresh piece of salmon from the market. I am a foodie, my big sisters are food snobs (although babybells and mini easter eggs seem to be an exception). And the Bains… Well they still find items in the fridge from the year I was born.