It's funny....when I first got into raw food, I was managing a restaurant that was heavy on the meat. We had a salad, as most places do, but of course it was made with what we put on our sandwiches and pizzas--shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cheese, etc. I started eating a lot of salad daily because there wasn't much else I could eat and still feel good afterwards during that time. When the restaurant closed, I sank into a deep depression and ate whatever was in front of me--mostly comfort food that my dad would bring in loads from the bakery. Sugar-laden, cheap pastries that only made my depression worse. Over the course of last summer, I packed on about twenty pounds in a very short period of time which made me feel even worse than just the mere depression.
Then, I decided to go back to school, twenty years later than the first time I went in the late 90's to UCA. I had intended on majoring in Accounting and registered for all the classes I needed, but the day before classes started, I decided to feed my creative side and enter the culinary program. I'd had enough cut-and-dry boring business stuff. I'd graduated with a business degree before because I took what other people told me to. I needed to find myself again; to take care of my wants and desires after the couple of years I'd put everyone else's needs before my own. I wanted something fun this time. I needed something fun.
I am so glad I did. The instructor for Culinary and Hospitality was like a mad hatter. A classic Brooklynite, the daughter of a Polish Jewish father and a Sicilian Catholic mother, she was a mixed bag who made school interesting and got my mind off my self-imposed emptiness. I bonded with many of my classmates, and though the depression was still there, I made it through the first semester with all A's; however, not without gaining another ten pounds from the many lively and gluttonous lunch dates we foodies would all take between classes.
In January, I decided I absolutely could not keep on the weight I had gained, so I decided to try a juice fast. I did that for 16 days and lost 16 pounds. My eyes got clearer, my skin started glowing, my clothes started fitting me again, and best of all, my depression started lifting. So, by February, I was getting back to myself again. A classmate and I started testing out raw vegan recipes in the staff kitchen that no one used next to our student kitchen. I kind of hijacked the kitchen, bringing all my odd ingredients and equipment there to experiment. We then started talking about opening our own restaurant, which quickly changed to a food truck, when I came across a stepvan on Craigslist for a great price. Even though I could never get it running, owning this one small asset became impetus for me to go full-force forward to finally push towards my decades-long dream of having my own business. I was on my own once my business partner found a real job, but through the course of looking for used equipment to outfit the stepvan and writing about the progress of the food truck, I came across fellow dreamers who understood and applauded the vision of In the Raw, who have been willing to help me in this journey.
So, after really good days, and really bad days, we are now onto a different step van. I love this thing. A 1967 model that is so odd and different, I feel we were a match made in heaven. I still don't quite have the money today to get her painted or many other things, but I will find enough by the day we open to make her functional, because come hell or high water on May 26th, this is one dream I'm not going to give up on. I can't. Too much of my heart, my life, and my son's future wish of being the world's youngest gourmet juice crafter is riding on (or in) it.
Until next time, Eat Raw, Live Long.