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Savourer • Sorter • Seeker

Her Story

Julie Austin

Idealist - Mom - Entrepreneur- Owner Chasing The Cheese

Julie's Story :

I have always approached eating, and the world of food, in the same manner I’ve approach life; with zesty curiosity, tasteful intentions, and reasonable hopes for lip-smacking satisfaction; so much so that, food has been the core ingredient upon which I’ve created, and built, my life’s recipe.

As far back as I can remember I’ve always sought to appreciate all that the world of food offers.   As a very young child, too young to be allowed near the stove, I often amused  myself by methodically making ‘mud-pies’ in my parents’ back yard; the alchemy of sifting through sand, and mixing in water, to form food-like shapes, in my own little hands, was mesmerizing.

At meal times, I ate so slowly, and contemplatively, that I was regularly the last one remaining at the table.   As I got older, I discovered and loved watching cooking shows. Early into my teens, I started collecting cookbooks, and spent a great deal of time experimenting in my parents’ kitchen.   As a young adult, I pursued and made decisions  regarding my career based on learning how to cook, bake, and through studying several areas  of the hospitality service industry while also occasionally dipping into the science, art, history and culture of food.

I’ve built my current career, and own business, specifically around seeking out, and sharing good food (notably cheese) with others, those who also share in a similar
passion.   I’ve tried, with mixed results, as a parent, to impart to my three children the  importance of sustaining and nourishing themselves, through obtaining and preparing their own food.   I truly enjoy our shared moments at the family table, although, as my kids grow older, these occasions are increasingly difficult to arrange.  (When they do happen, it’s still that I am often the last one at the table.)

With my friends, I’m known to share my edible passions genuinely and enthusiastically.   I can’t honestly wear the cape of a ‘super taster’, but, over time,
I have practiced to develop my sensitive palette into a discerning one.   It’s true; I look to fill my  plate with assortment, variety and complexity, but not for the purposes of overindulging, rather to deeply understand each epicurean experience along my path.   I’m very blessed these habits have yielded healthy rewards.  Food is far more than just sustenance to me.  It’s a magical, gastronomical looking glass, one that bridges the world between what I sense and what I’ve always wanted – and hoped – to create.

Food is my life; my life is food.

Except….not so long ago, my world of food abruptly offered no sense appeal, or clear path or promise, or held any magic, at all.

To illustrate how, what I once trusted to be light and pleasurable, somehow changed into something heavy and tasteless, would be to unnecessarily regurgitate unpalatable lumps, ones that, in truth, I’m still digesting.   For now, the clarification can be reduced to this: in spite of being conscientious, and perceptive, it was not instantaneously clear, to my susceptibilities, that the routine sustenance repeatedly served to me was comprised of ambiguous,  unrecognizable ingredients; that some flavorings were indeed masking an oily rancidity of others; that I was being made to accept other people’s rations.   When this realization became salient to me, I didn’t lose my sense of enterprise….. but I did lose my sense of vigor.

What if the grueling process of getting to the heart extrudes so much gusto out of you that you lose your appetite for all that once fed your imagination?   What if your trusted looking glass becomes cloudy, and clarifying the truth renders you doubtful of whether it’s better to eat, or be eaten?   What fare are you willing to pay so as not to be so gruffly gobbled by trolling shadows, ones that linger under a rickety bridge, on a course that offers only a distant, vague promise of greener  pastures?

When what once had meaning to me had become minced beyond recognition ….. just finding the  wherewithal to isolate what truly serves me, in turn ate away at the definition of myself, consuming all but one of my reserves.   In my silent, subterranean moments, when I am left to my own devices, I know, deep in the marrow of my bones, I am patient, strong, resolute, insightful, imaginative and playful.   I know I work hard, and that I have undertaken some significant endeavors…. (the fruits of those labours are ones I can acknowledge, in theory). From the plucky small army of traits that form my personality, persistent perseverance consistently steps up to take command, even if only impishly.

To keep advancing forward, I have to look, methodically and carefully, beyond my own, novlonger familiar, thinning breadcrumb trail, to others, for essential support; a seasoned caring.

I’ve been fortunate in finding; a communal kind of nourishment that is neither simulated, nor artificial. (I am getting better at detecting the difference.)  My gratitude for the genuine sustenance I’ve been fed, whether in small bites of reassurance, or full steaming cups of guiding encouragement, is difficult to articulate, mostly because I was taught not to talk and chew at the same time.   For now, I’ll raise a glass in sincere appreciation to those who, unreservedly, have kindly supported me.

To be allowed to be myself, with understanding and acceptance, without reckless interference, to do what I do best and to be able to relish the sum total results of my tenacity…. these are my current cravings.   I look to share, with gratitude, the abundance of my diverse, creative world with my children, family, and friends, and with like-minded, passionate souls, ones who maybe even persistently persevere at the table with me.   I haven’t yet sorted how I’ll appease my future food-related musings, or how I’ll uncover the tender tidbits that once satisfied my sensibilities, (maybe I’ll indulge in making mud pies again), but what is clear is that I am not meant to be a glutton for punishment.   I get to savour my options now; trusting nature to take its inescapable course (that what goes in must eventually come out) is one place to start.  So too is not feeding the hounds of indignation.   Piece by piece, I’ll make my way towards a space where I hope to be able to fully express my gratitude, and eventually appreciate, and delight, in the richness that concocting, and engineering, my own groaning board of goodness, offers.

In the meantime, in allowing myself to just be, in imagining and thinking about that space…..

while I am not quite there, I can almost taste it.