Food & Growing Up
Published Thursday, January 12, 2006 by Matt Armendariz | E-mail this post
I love food. I love everything about food. It's what I do. It's who I am.
Growing up Mexican in Texas, I developed a passion and appreciation for food, realizing that the kitchen was indeed the center of the house. It was the center of our house. To my family food meant love, and sitting down to a meal was a way to share and connect with each other. It's a philosophy and tradition that I still hold dear today.
I owe my palate and passion for culinary adventurousness nature to my mother and father. Being first generation Americans connected us to old tastes and traditions of Mexico, but it also made for a delicious culture clash of ingredients, methods and stories. It wasn't unheard of to sit down to a dinner of corned beef and cabbage with a side of beans and rice, and I've learned that anything–from a frankfurter to peanut butter and jelly–always tastes better wrapped in a tortilla.
I thank my beautiful mother for teaching me what fresh produce, meat and seafood is all about, and shunning processed canned and overly manipulated foods packed with sugar and salt. I like to think her culinary artistry has genetically trickled down in some way to me (as the oldest of 13 children she knows her way around the kitchen, and her days in catering and as a chef only prove this). I thank my wonderful father for his love of cheese, and it's also a reason why at any given moment you'll find no less than six types from all over the world in my fridge. And while I still can't do it quite like he does, he also taught me how to grill. I doubt I'll ever reach his level of mastery.
Mom and dad, if you're reading this, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be myself on every level and to gorge myself at every turn...and, for creating a home filled with endless love, sweet music and spicy enchiladas. I love you both more than words can possibly express.