A couple of weeks ago, we asked via iReport for your stories of that person, place, book, restaurant or dish that made you sit up and start to see food as more than just a three times a day chore. You eat every day, and you've got a story to share.
Every so often, we're sharing the most hunger-inducing and heartfelt ones right 'chere.
Read on for iReporter Teresa Spyra's story about how growing up eating "strange food" eventually became her mother’s lifeline:
"One of my earliest memories is walking hand in hand with my father in Seattle’s Asian district. We walked by windows of many oddly colored displays and foods I had never laid eyes on before. As we approached the corner there was a window display of cooked ducks. I asked my father what it was and he kindly explained that different people ate different things and it wasn’t bad or gross, just something we didn’t eat.
That day stuck with me when we were on the verge of being homeless and slaughtered our chickens, got strange food from the food bank and did what we could with the little we had.
As times changed and fortunes turned, we got back on our feet. My dad learned to bake bread and my mom learned to make inexpensive Latin foods. The dishes were many and our stomachs always full.
My father had the privilege to travel the world after the Vietnam War, and shared his food experiences with the rest of the family whenever possible. He spoke fluent Thai in a little restaurant where I had my first coconut soup and Thai curry, and he brought home Chinese foods that looked and smelled funny and we dared each other to eat.
As a child sometimes I was jealous of the packaged foods other children brought to school, but as an adult I began to fully appreciate the global food experience my father tried to give me.
As a freshman in college I found the majority of my friends from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and China. I let them take me to a Vietnamese restaurant and order for me. They were very surprised when I not only finished my durian fruit milk shake, but got a second one to go with my fiery hot meal.
This history, my global relationship with flavors, spices and a continual fearlessness to try new foods became not only my, but also my mother’s lifeline when she struggled with cervical cancer and multiple sclerosis. Her appetite disappeared and as she began to struggle more and more with her memory, she forgot to eat. I would call from work to remind her to not only eat, but feed the dog. Thirty minutes later I would call back to make sure she did actually eat something - she began to waste away in front of my eyes.
By accident, I found I could get her to eat if I cooked global foods, gourmet seasoned meats and high quality vegetables. My connection to food and cooking changed as I began to cook for flavor, health and also my own sanity between work, doctor appointments and managing everything else in between.
Cooking is now my escape. I cook to think, to clear away stress, to please others and to meditate. The spices are a pathway toward inner peace; the ingredients a canvass for expression emotion.
This morning I awoke with the stress I currently carry and headed straight for the kitchen. I began to create something new. I had little idea how to create this masterpiece, but knew if I just started I could throw off much of my anxiety.
I smashed a sweet potato, blended it with some millet, quinoa flour, hemp milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, agave, egg and salt. I poured the mixture out onto a skillet and waited as each pour cooked. An hour later I had a plate full of sweet potato pancakes topped with fresh peaches and a Granny Smith apple. It was heaven and guilt-free."
Got a story to share? Using iReport, share written words, videos and luscious photos if need be, and we'll include our favorite responses in upcoming features.
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