I went home for a short visit a few weeks ago and had a little side trip to the Bay Area, revisiting my old haunts.

It had been years since I went to visit Berkeley and I got all nostalgic as soon as I stepped foot on campus. I felt so old! As I looked around me, the students had that fresh face and fluffy hair look that kids all seem to have at that age. As I walked through Sproul Plaza once again I was back in a safe and happy place (though this was daytime — I do remember it feeling a bit dodgy walking alone at night!).

Berkeley is also where I started being more curious about food. As a student I worked at the College of Chemistry office surrounded by older ladies who would bring cakes for special occasions and share recipes or would tell me where to go for the best wine. And when family came to visit we’d go to Chez Panisse — a perfectly laid-back and unintimidating place for a college student to discover good food. But Berkeley Bowl market is where I really became engaged with cooking and produce.

Look at this! How can you not be blown away by the root vegetable section alone?