**inspiration for this post came from Mighty Maggie, who recently blogged about why she lives in Seattle – hop on over to the West Coast and say hello!**
i am an Iowan. I am from the land of corn, soybeans, hogs, and small, sprawl-y city-towns. Where green and yellow worn together means that you are either a fan of John Deere farm machinery or the Green Bay Packers – in that order. Where trucking hats are worn without irony. And where everyone’s mother has an arsenal of casserole recipes at the ready (my favorites: chicken-broccoli and corned beef).
but i love – dearly – living in philadelphia.
there are no farm implements here, no john deere references (outside of Urban Outfitters). There are citified professional folks, and loud hoagie-sellers, and devoted (read: crazy, rude, intense) football fans of the other team that wears green (the Iggles). there are row homes stacked on top of each other, sandwiched in between the laundromat, the pizza place, and the ethiopian restaurant – and the hippy bike shop. there are neighborhoods of families who have, for generations, christened, married, and died in one parish. there are neighborhoods where young men die every day. and neighborhoods where art emerges like butterflies from crumbling mortar chrysalides.
there is a neighborhood where i live, tucked up in the third floor with a roommate and a kitchen. the city makes sense because of my kitchen. like a pinhole camera, i look at neighborhoods through the shape of food, at their inhabitants through the lense of hospitality. in my kitchen, i make things from the vegetables i bought in the Clark Park Farmer’s Market, or dive into the nan I ordered from the Pakistani restaurant, or nibble on sweet bread from the Reading Terminal. I bake cinnamon rolls and take them to a West Philly church-brunch, or friends come in and we share stories of SEPTA regulars (Philly public transit) over bottles of beer. if i cook with red wine (which i love but am usually too cheap to buy for myself), i feel like i’m steppin’ up to an Old City level of sophistication. If I pull out a pizza box for a classic pie, I feel in touch with my inner South Philadelphian. Before I venture out to explore, I pack my pockets with snack food from the Trader Joe’s in Center City, where I encounter all the environmentally-conscious foodies that swarm to cheap organic salad dressing like bees to sustainably-farmed honey.
From my kitchen, I just want to love on this city. There are other places from where, well, maybe a casual handshake will do, but this post is about the love, and me and my kitchen have it bad for this city of the brotherly sort.