In launching our IndieGoGo campaign, I wanted to share with our audience what this is all about: Where The Urban Grocer came from and what it means to those behind it. I wanted to tell our rollercoaster story. So starting today, and over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting short pieces of that story from start to finish.
And without further ado, Part I: The beginning.
It started in 2006 in a hotel room in Nicaragua. I was living in the Central American country for a few months, with my now husband, and when he would leave to work in microfinance I – well, I watched Food Network all day. It was hot outside, the room was air-conditioned, I went with it. But in between Paula Deen and Ina Garten, when electricity would be cut, I started to crave something different. Don’t get me wrong: I loved Paula deep frying butter and I could watch Ina cook endlessly in her home. But I was looking for something with a bit more edge. More spunk. I was looking for what Jamie Oliver was in 1997. That young, hip kid in a London flat who made food look so rock and roll.
There was a rumbling of nouvelle food movements starting to take shape at the time. I wanted to know about it. Scratch that: I wanted to be a part of it. And that’s when I first started to think about The Urban Grocer.
To be clear, I have always been in food. I come from one of those clichéd Italian-American families and learned to cook beside my grandmother. She was notorious in the kitchen and put a knife in my hand at age 5. By 6, I had my first burn (I remember it at my first communion). At 7, I opened a closed-door restaurant in my parent’s house called “The Little Blue House.” I would make coffee and waffles every weekend, despite a tagline that read: “We ain’t just waffles.” In my early 20s, I worked in professional kitchens and felt – and still do feel – so innately connected to cooking, food and to everything around it. It is truly a part of who I am and what I am and always has been.
So in Nicaragua, I decided to forgo all that I had been told by those older than me – that cooking was a passion, not a job – and I committed to moving my career into food. For good.
And it was there in Nicaragua that I first tried my hand at food writing. These were the days of Chocolate & Zucchini. Old.school. I started with a blog and named it Delicious and wrote about Nicaraguan food mostly. It was just a start, but it was the first step on a long road that brought me here today.
To be continued….
Together we can continue our journey. Learn how and support our ride here.
[Photos by Michael von During. Co-Founder Caitlin Zaino in Nicaragua, dreaming up The Urban Grocer!]