I started this blog to pursue the answer to a question that’s plagued me for a while:

Can a seafood-eating vegetarian who avoids onions and garlic be a foodie? Can a gourmand with a major asterisk be accepted as a food lover on par with Anthony Bourdain or Ruth Reichl?

I want to say that in the 21st century, everyone in the First World has an angle on food. What we eat, what we don’t, what we can’t. Too much, too little, figuring out what’s just enough. Where to buy it, where it came from, how to cook it.

I’m interested in these details. I shop, cook and eat based on them. I haven’t felt the same about food since I read Michael Pollan’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma, though I’m not an omnivore in the least. And although I put down Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle after the first two chapters because I was intimidated by just imagining her family’s challenge to live off their garden for a season, I think I’m ready to pick it up again. Experiments can fail, and we can still learn from them.

As a food lover with some caveats, it’s difficult to see my place in the popular food world. Models of the expert foodie—Bourdain, Richman, Ray, Fieri—eat everything. (And if they don’t, it’s a trick of editing.)  Judges on Iron Chef America are never pescatarians with digestive issues. The best competitors on Top Chef don’t leave certain ingredients out of their dishes. And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but bacon is everywhere.

Luckily I’m not in the running for head chef of any kitchen, including my own. My husband eats what I cook except when he’s eating fast food, reheating his own pre-prepared frozen meals, or supplementing mine with chicken sausage. He’d be healthier eating what I eat, but, c’est la vie, we pursue our own food lives.

I do see plenty of examples of people eating how and why they desire on the Internet. For starters: when you visit any major recipe website like Epicurious or AllRecipes, you’ll find users who have tweaked the ingredients or their amounts to suit a number of tastes and requirements. I see myself in these minor adjustments.

As I continue to pursue a lifestyle of thoughtful eating, I’ll keep one thing in mind: I’ve always loved an asterisk. It makes you take a closer look.