What the taste of eating right means to me

In the last month or so, I’ve been asked a lot about my food philosophy. Although the context often varied, my answers could pretty much be summed up thusly: I’m an omnivore who believes that there is no one right way to eat well.
While I’m certain that my palate is not as adventurous as Anthony Bourdain’s, I am fortunate to have no food allergies or sensitivities, and a willingness to try almost any food at least once. I haven’t met an American regional or world cuisine that I haven’t enjoyed at least something about. The last time I was in a sushi restaurant, I gladly tried the unfortunately named octopus balls. (They were fine, but I didn’t find them delicious enough to order again.)

I’m a dedicated home cook, so when I do dine out, I opt for cuisines like Indian, Thai or Vietnamese that I have yet to delve deeply into at home. Their rich, balanced use of various spices, chiles and other flavoring elements pleases my palate, and it’s easy to order dishes rich in veggies or legumes. Even though I enjoy eating meat, for health and a daily feeling of well-being, plant foods, especially vegetables, take up the most real estate on my plate. Let’s put it this way: I fill my freezer each fall with 1/4 of a grass-fed steer from a tiny local ranch, but my favorite cookbook is vegetarian.

What I won’t eat, generally speaking, is cheap processed food. It takes more than the blunt hammer of the salt-sugar-fat trifecta to satisfy my tastebuds. The further foods are taken from their natural state, the less likely they are to leave my body satisfied, either. Real food keeps me satiated and steadily energized.

I have no need of gummy white bread, snack foods that leave orange dust on my fingers, or cheap baked goods that leave a greasy film in my mouth. What I crave is the chew of whole grains, the crispness of raw vegetables, the tang of artisan sourdough, the juiciness of fresh fruit, the burst of umami when I take a bite of grass-fed beef, the pleasure of a square of dark chocolate or a cookie baked with real ingredients, eaten mindfully. Balance, variety and quality…that’s the taste of eating right!