Backward and Forward

Looking forward or back ~  look at yourself.  Ste Annes. 

Looking forward or back ~  look at yourself. 
Ste Annes. 

We are just about to leave behind that time of year when every form of media is dominated by looking back (on 2015) and looking forward (to 2016). There’s almost too much of that, but then it is a “too much” time of the year. 

I was recently reminded that “backward” and “forward” play a role in Hungarian superstitions.  To ensure luck, a New Year’s Eve / Day meal should, apparently, include pork. “Pigs symbolize progress as they root themselves in the ground before pushing forward.” Any creature that pushes backwards – such as chickens scratching – signify bad luck and are to be avoided. Fish is customary in Hungary on Christmas Eve, but not so at New Year’s because they “can swim away with your luck”.  (Source)

These lucky / unlucky food traditions seem to exist beyond Hungary. Do a quick internet search on ‘new year’s lucky foods’ and it turns out that many countries share similar warnings, and are proponents of pork for New Year’s luck – Austria Spain, Cuba – even Southern USA. Visit an East European delicatessen this time of year and do not be surprised to see “Santa treats” replaced by pigs. “Austrians are... known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan.” (Source)

Also included by many on the list of lucky foods is lentils – shaped as coins, they symbolize wealth and good fortune. (In case you missed it, the UN has declared 2016 The International Year of Pulses – aka lentils. More on that in a future post.)

Lastly, Hungarian sites refer to “kocsonya” as a lucky food. Pronounced "kuhchunyuh", this is nicely (and deceivingly) translated as “cold pork aspic”. “Aspic” sounds so genteel, but this tends to be very rustic and features pig’s feet staring up at you from a soup plate, surrounded by the natural “jello” that results from cooking the trotters in a broth. There has not been a year of my life when I have not had to watch someone eat this. (It’s a fave of Mr KB.) Though I am all grown up, this remains one of my “ick” foods, thus the “luck” for me is that no one forces me to make it or eat it. (Inexplicably, I remain willing to eat Jello in any colour, and have fond memories of Jello Jewel Pie which could make a comeback since BuzzFeed lists “all things Jello” among the 16 Biggest Food Trends in 2016.)

While being encouraged to look forward, a few missives popping into my email box prompt a backward glance. I am getting reminders to renew my blog site and domain. Yes, it is coming up to the one year anniversary of this preoccupation of mine.

Someone wishing me well once said ‘I hope you get what you want from blogging’. It’s taken me about a year of blogging, attendance at the Canadian Food Blogger’s Conference, and subsequent interactions with the FBC Community to realize that I am doing this mainly for myself. When blogging (and cooking) I achieve "Flow".

Flow is a term adopted by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (that’s a lovely Hungarian name) to describe the state when "a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does… In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task."

Flow – don’t you want it? Is there anything better than that? As it turns out, there are some food bloggers who also want/need an income. Some have “monetized” their blog and by combining it with related entrepreneurial activities (and possibly the publication of a book) are making a living wage – or in the case of Pinch of Yum – an enviable income of about $33,000 per month!

I have no plans to undertake any monetization. I blog for Flow, Zen, self-satisfaction and to create a digital version of favourite recipes and family traditions that can be made and sustained by family and friends. A few of us FBC-ers are calling ourselves “legacy bloggers”.

Thus, I am not reporting to you any income – though I did win a couple of prizes last year – mainly by accident, and one by participating in a Twitter Party – will tell you more about that one day. I will share a bit about 2015 in numbers – and these numbers pale in comparison to those of big name bloggers. Anticipating that maybe no one would pay attention to the blog, I ended up with 2527 unique visitors to my site in 2015 and 12,200 page views – all from 52 countries. I am not entirely sure how all that happens, though I do post a bit on Instagram (160 followers) and Twitter (167 followers).

There’s never a week when I don’t learn some new – though arguably useless and unimportant - thing. For example, near the end of 2015, Instagram-ers were posting collages of nine photos, hash-tagged as #bestnine2015. Here’s my best nine – as in most “liked” by followers. They are not my favourite photos, but they say the public is always right…

Instagram: Most Liked in 2015 - total of 5250 Likes

Instagram: Most Liked in 2015 - total of 5250 Likes

Some of my favourite memories

Some of my favourite memories

Numbers offer the “quantity” story, but blogging also brought some quality. It became a gateway to new experiences and connections. Those “in the zone” must surely know that cultivating community and connections with people sharing similar interests is one of the tips for successful ageing, so thank you Kitchen Bliss for that! (Source)

And what’s in store for KB going forward? More and better writing; catching up on many recipes that have been enjoyed but not yet shared; continuing new food experiences at home and in restos.

I like to conclude all blog posts with a recipe. Clearly, this time, one has to be pork. I was astonished that Gulyás Soup was my only “pork post” so far, but given that it was my first post ever maybe this is a good time to re-visit it. I also posted a favourite recipe for easy-peasy Broiled Pork Tenderloin.

Lentils appear more often in the KB Kitchen and here. Check out Parisian Lentils, Curry Lentil Soup and Lentil Orzo Salad. Enjoy them all!

From a card given to my favourite Capricorn – “In life, we remember moments, not days. Hope your new year is filled with perfect moments.” 

For 2016, wishing you Moments, Flow, Zen and most of all Bliss!

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