Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On Being an Expat Food Lover

I was born in Paris to a Swiss mother and an American father and grew up in the Middle East, Europe and the US. The expat term is something I am very familiar with. Although I am Swiss because of my mother, I was not born and raised here and Swiss German is not my native language and since I have only lived here for 7 years, my way of thinking is very different from the Swiss. I have based my wine and shipping businesses here entirely on the English speaking expats. Additionally, I am responsible for starting and running a large expat exposition called Expat-Expo. So the whole concept of being an ex-pat is clear to me.To me an ex-pat is not particularly trying to blend into the the society of his host country. He is a sort of permanent guest. I like this status. I like being "foreign" and different, especially in a society that would be very reluctant to accept me as one of them anyway. I have never considered myself to be an immigrant.

Anyway, as for my food.... because I spent lots of time in Switzerland when I was young, the tastes, smells and flavors of the food are permanently locked in my memory and when I lived in the States I longed to have them back. When I started returning regularly to Europe in my early thirties I found that I cooked exactly the same way as I did in the States but the taste was very different. It was because of the ingredients. Every time I would return to the US I would become depressed. No matter how fancy the gourmet store was, I could not get it to taste like it did in France. This realization dictated to me that I had to move back to Europe. I did and now (culinarily speaking) I don't even look back except for a few comfort foods which I can make here. I might also add that in the States, my cooking was flashy and artsy and now that I have discovered the simple regional foods of Italy and France my cooking is more humble and honest. Something I see as progressive.


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