I am so happy to be back writing for the Communiqué this year. Last year was my first year as a food writer, and I have a bunch of new inspirations for cooking, health, and stories that I collected this summer.
I think that the theme for my foodie adventures this year goes something like, “eat sustainable food” and “Pittsburgh is becoming a foodie paradise.”
That doesn’t sound extremely eloquent so we will not make it official, but seriously, I went to so many restaurants this summer and it is becoming clear that Pittsburgh’s food scene is high caliber.
How does a town, city, or region become known for its food scene? I think there are three main categories that a city’s food providers must check off before they can be considered superior.
First of all, the restaurants, cafes, etc. must be inventive in their preparation of food and also how they present themselves as a business. If your town is full of checker-printed-table-cloth restaurants, I would not consider that a progressive food scene when it comes to display.
Also, the food should be new and inventive. We usually don’t see regular grilled cheese sandwiches in our new favorite restaurants. What we do see is grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon, chipotle mayo, and grilled onions, or even a grilled cheese with soy cheese, kale, and hemp seed filled bread.
Our food habits are changing. I know more people who are on the vegetarian scale than I know unbounded meat eaters.
I think the next category goes without saying. We want the food that the city provides to be delicious. That isn’t always easy, though. There is a grilled chicken salad, and then there is a salad made up of spring greens, heirloom tomatoes from a local garden, fresh spring onion, and grilled chicken that had a happy and healthy life before it was butchered for our delight. That love within food is what makes it extra yummy.
Finally, we want a food system in a city that has their sustainability together. With sustainability comes support of an environmentally friendly food system. With an environmentally aware way of producing food, comes more food without harmful chemicals in the plants and animals, thus healthier food.
We all like the idea of eating healthy. Some people don’t like the “taste” of healthy foods (and I plan to change your views on healthy food by giving you simple recipes full of whole foods), but even if they only eat chicken tenders, chicken tenders without hormones and from an organic farm down the road is “healthier” in the long run.
We want lettuce without pesticides, and we want salmon that was sustainably caught in the wild. We just don’t like how hard it is to find, and we don’t like the prices that go along with it. When a town is able to have relationships with gardens and farms, their level of natural and sustainable food goes up.
I believe that Pittsburgh has qualities that fit into every one of these categories. Although, we are not Asheville, N.C., or Portland, Ore., we are on our way to making a name for ourselves in the foodie paradise checklist. Follow my column and learn about restaurants in our area and easy recipes that will improve your health, or are just tasty.
Also, if you want more foodie ideas, follow my blog!