Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’ve made it here and aren’t yet a subscriber, come join! You can expect recipes in your inbox every Tuesday, and paid subscribers receive even more every Thursday! You can also try a week for free!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the defining factors of what makes me, “me.” I’ve been struggling with the idea that so much of my online persona is focused around food and being an influencer, even though of course this plays a large role in my life, and in turn my personality. However, I don’t feel like those descriptors are my defining factors, but from the outside, that’s what’s projected to hundreds of thousands of people.
I imagine people coming to my Instagram page or TikTok and easily boiling me down. A blonde girl from LA into wellness. Classic. I will be the first to admit that many of my interests do align with stereotypes: I love hiking and yoga, I like to eat salads and go to specialty grocery stores, I drive a Prius for god’s sake. But my personality doens’t stop there. In fact, this is just one teeny-tiny sliver of who I am, yet it’s the part of me that is represented loudest on the internet, and I find that interesting and slightly unsettling.
On the flip side, I also recognize that no one online is ever going to know me the same way my family does or my friends do. When I think about “who I am” as a person, so much has to do with my interpersonal relationships, the type of friend I am, the support I give, the deep conversations I have over the campfire about life, religion, politics, existential questions — topics that require a reciprocal relationship, and topics I will never be able to dive deep into the way I want to when I’m forced to reduce them to 2000 characters or 2-minute clips.
I have many interests — food just happens to be the one I have succeeded at the most. I recently got into a discussion with someone about how not everyone needs to monetize their passion or do their dream career, and I wholeheartedly agree. It actually got me thinking about how cooking and food blogging was never my “dream.” I’ve said this before, but “influencer” wasn’t even a word when I started my blog, so it wouldn’t have even been possible for me to dream about such a vocation. I’ve always wanted to be a writer — that was my dream — and I did start off my adult life professionally writing, and to be honest, it wasn’t all that it was cut out to be. I still LOVE writing, and I do it for myself (with the novel I’m writing, this newsletter, and any other assignments that come my way that I’m passionate about), but I don’t want to chase my dream of being a prolific freelance journalist anymore.
I’ve come to realize that while being a food blogger might not be my “dream job” or my one true passion, it is still something I’m extremely passionate about. There’s a distinction there, albeit a small one, but just in the way that I don’t really believe in one soul mate, I also don’t believe in one dream job that we are meant to do. I think we can have many passions and many jobs that we enjoy greatly, and they don’t have to involve our favorite activities. The pressure to find your one true calling is absurd, and I think, harmful. Sometimes our favorite activities are best kept sacred, free from the financial pressures and unwanted feedback and exploitation.
I hate that social media has us putting ourselves in boxes: foodie, fashion blogger, fitness expert. We are so much more than our hobbies or our means of making money. I forget this sometimes, as I find myself only looking at myself through the lens of my followers. What do I look like from an outsider's perspective? Well, that’s all they see, so that must be who I am. I know that’s not true, but it’s forced me to look inward to think about what makes me, me. And what it all boils down to, is everything. I am a food blogger. But I’m also a deeply sensitive friend, an extremely silly and goofy fiancé, a lover of words and books and quantum physics and philosophy and psychology and anthropology. A beach bum who likes to splash around in the ocean and feel nostalgic for a moment that hasn’t ended yet. An experimenter who likes to travel and wander around new places and let her mind enter new states to uncover the deepest parts of herself. A former ballerina and (reluctant) cheerleader. A journalist who likes to ask a lot of questions and psychoanalyze everyone. A painter and a gardener and sometimes a feisty complainer. Even these sentences barely scratch the surface.
I am a whole person who lives a full life doing and thinking about things that have nothing to do with food. I wish people would know all facets of me, but I accept that it’s not possible. And I’m proud of the woman they get to see, knowing there’s so much more to her than just a good kale salad.
Prosciutto, Pesto & Goat Cheese Sandwich with Arugula and Calabrian Chilis
Ingredients (serves 1)
2 slices of sourdough bread
1-2 tbsp pesto
1-2 oz goat cheese
2 oz prosciutto
1 tsp Calabrian chili peppers
1. Lightly toast your bread so that it’s crispy, but not hard. Spread the pesto on one slice, and then top with goat cheese and prosciutto. Add the arugula and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
2. On the other slice of toast, spread on the Calabrian chili, and then add a drizzle of olive oil. Press the bread pieces together, cut in half, and enjoy!
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