Jennifer Buggica is the blogger behind The Foodie Patootie where she shares wholesome recipes with her audience.
Recently, we spoke with Jennifer about her philosophy on food, great places to eat in Tampa, and the national “challenge” she created.
For some, food is simply fuel to get through the day. What does food mean to you?
I believe that food should be the center of every event. It should be enjoyable, wholesome, and made with love. There’s a quote from Michael Pollan’s newest book Cooked that perfectly describes how I feel about food and cooking it for my family and friends: “For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
Since you’re based in Tampa, Florida, could you tell us what kind of food scene the city has? What are a few of your favorite Tampa eateries?
Tampa has really stepped it up in recent years with the number of new restaurants popping up that advocate local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. There are so many restaurants that have these unique dishes and perfectly crafted cocktails.
The Tampa Bay area is a true hodgepodge of cultures, so you’ll find almost every cuisine here; but most notably, we have a large Cuban culture and the restaurants and diners and bakeries to show for it. Some of my favorite Tampa eateries include Piquant, Ulele, Cena, Grey Salt, Ciro’s Speakeasy, and so many more.
On your blog, you also wrote about the last several weeks of your pregnancy. What was the most unexpected aspect of pregnancy for you?
Pregnancy in general was pretty easy for me, which made me happy! But throughout the pregnancy, I did not want to cook. In fact, I almost recoiled from the idea. I never thought that would happen, and it’s only now at over two months post-delivery that I’m excited to get back in the kitchen and spend the same countless number of hours doing recipe development, testing, and photographing. It can be an exhausting, exciting, and fun process; and I guess during pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood, I was just too exhausted to really give it my all like I’m used to.
You’re a big fan of the National Food Holiday Challenge. What exactly is that? And do you have a favorite food holiday?
The National Food Holiday Challenge is something I thought of myself! I noticed there were all these food holidays and they were becoming pretty popular online. People were sharing recipes and brands were celebrating the food holiday by promoting their relevant products and recipes. I figured, why not capitalize on that and also challenge myself at the same time? It was a very grueling but rewarding process.
It’s pretty much impossible to pick a favorite food holiday because there are just so many great ones. But I loved all of the ice cream ones, as well as National Crown Roast of Pork Day, just because the crown roast is such a beauty!
The recipes on The Foodie Patootie are also categorized by ingredient. Why did you choose to do it this way?
I learned a lot about cooking from my grandparents. But in the beginning stages of really learning how to cook for myself, when trying to conceptualize my own recipes and dishes, I found myself just staring into my fridge and pantry and not knowing where to begin. I would focus on an item I had on hand, like cauliflower, and think about what I could do with cauliflower. Inevitably, I found myself searching online for recipes with cauliflower as the star. I thought categorizing my recipes by ingredients could help the home cook find recipes that would be relevant to what’s in their kitchen.
Do you have a recipe for a favorite food, snack, or dish that you would cook and eat all of it all by yourself if given the chance?
My grandfather’s pasta sauce is a recipe he shared with me; but I hold it so sacred that I keep it off my blog. However, I could eat pasta with his sauce every single day! As for a recipe you’ll find on my blog, I would have to say my Red Lentil Pasta with Braised Short Ribs.
Finish this sentence: “When I’m cooking in the kitchen, I almost feel naked if I don’t have my…”
Wooden spoons! I just love them!
If someone were to buy you a gift of a kitchen appliance, gadget, or luxury item, what would be your first choice?
Oh, this is easy! I would love cookware from Le Creuset.