via Seth's Flickr
When did you first know you were a grown up?

Was it when your parents dropped you off, slightly anxious but mostly excited, at your college dorm freshman year?  When you received your first official paycheck and then put it into savings instead of spending it all on clothes and junk food?  Or when people in the service industry started calling you "ma'am" or "sir"?  For me, it was my first trip to Whole Foods by myself to go grocery shopping.

Up to that inflection point, grocery shopping was a chore, something that you had to do to put stuff in the fridge and pantry so you could eventually put it in your mouth.  I would avoid grocery shopping with my mom, which was almost like a religious ritual for her, and her multitude of visits to the regular grocery store, organic grocery store and Asian grocery store.  But sometime in between my junior and senior year at college, I got it.

There is something to be said about the necessity, or actually, the desire to feed yourself and do a smashing good job at it.  To actually fuel yourself with high quality, high nutrient content food and not just a jumble of salty sweet artificially amped up consumables that you don't even glance at while you shovel it into your gaping maw (usually done while watching some brainless reality thing on tv).  And as David Lebovitz describes grocery shopping in America in his book The Sweet Life in Paris, "I felt so welcome and got such a warm, cozy feeling inside that I didn't want to leave.  The ultra-plush seating area set amid a jungle of exotic plants and aromatherapy sprays was more comfy than home."

Browsing through endless aisles and pondering on an infinite combinations of ingredients and the meals that they would delight.  Coming across new produce that you've never seen, much less tasted before, and planning a themed menu around it.  This all became a privilege to me and something I looked forward to.  It was about taking the time and energy to do something right and being thoughtful about it.  And that's when I grew up.*

*Okay, I'm not really that grown up.  But I became more grown up.  Which was saying something.