It’s time. Officially. I know I recently said the day after Halloween meant it was Christmas season. Which, in the commercial sense, it is. But now that we’re here… come on. Why the need to downplay Thanksgiving? Or, not necessarily Thanksgiving itself, but the inevitability of stuffing our faces with more food than is conceivable. You see, I love food. I really, really do. Looking back on what I wrote a few weeks ago, I don’t know exactly how I was deluding myself. Sure, Christmas has food too, I guess, but what can compare to Thanksgiving? These thoughts were brought up last night, when I was sitting around a fire with a gaggle of friends, absorbing the warmth and just talking about comfort in general. The subject meandered into Thanksgiving, and we started listing things we were looking forward to… stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, rhubarb pie… At that point, I had to abruptly leave the room because my stomach was growling loudly enough to be embarrassing. But the thought hasn’t left me. I don’t know if my relationship with food is entirely unique, but I think my food path has been a bit odd. I grew up with two very caring, loving parents who couldn’t care less about food. My dinners mostly were of the frozen- TV- dinner type, though with the occasional sit down meal of Ragu thrown in there if we were feeling fancy. The food situation changed upon entering college, where I was mostly too lazy to eat anything except Easy Mac and whatever I could pilfer from the laundry room vending machines. But then, at the end of last spring, something changed. Maybe it was just as a result of getting older, or absorbing some foodie- enthusiasm from my brother or boyfriend, but I started cooking with them, and with my friends. And loving it. Late- night cans of soup turned into crockpot strew creations. Pop Tarts were traded for steak dinners. Time once spent doing productive things, such as reading and watching Netflix, now found me hunkering down in the kitchen, prowling around the spice cabinet. After this initially spark, I then was lucky enough to spend the summer in Italy, doing almost nothing except eating, eating, eating, absorbing culture through food. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I actually learned anything food- wise there, but I certainly tried some bizarre things (egg and pear pizza?). Coming back to the States, the inspiration kept flowing. We signed up for a cooking class, where I ate my first shrimp (ewww) and learned techniques that I’m sure will come in handy at some point. Plans have been made for dinner parties and the like throughout the year. And this year my group of friends from around the fire decided we are going to have a Thanksgiving dessert gathering in the upcoming weeks. Which brings me back to the fire! As much as I loved sitting there and sharing food memories with friends, that conversation, which spurred so many thoughts about how I eat way too much, really made me realize something. It’s not the food alone that I love (though, I mean, who could argue with a homemade pasta sauce, or one of my brother’s famous cheesecakes?). It’s everything that goes along with it. It’s the friends you make food with. It’s the smells in the kitchen that drag people down the stairs to see what you’re making. It’s the innovation that arises- both good ideas and the terrible ones. It’s the ability to show off your creations or tell stories about the disasters. It’s the culture you absorb through the food and are able to mix into your own. More than anything, it’s the memories of everyone eating together, and it’s the knowledge that you still have a lifetime to laugh over the dinner table.