It's amazing how food has helped shape my life. At an early age, my family taught me to love food, but I never realized before this summer how cooking, eating, and sharing food has been instrumental in developing some of my strongest relationships.

In fact, some of my oldest memories have to do with food, like when I was 3-years-old, I had a Blue's Clues birthday party. I don't remember much from that party, but I do remember that my mom made me pigs-in-a-blanket which was my favorite food at the time.

When I was about the same age, I used to play hide-and-seek with anyone who would pay attention. Now I'm sure most kids think they are good at hide-and-seek, but I was really good. In fact, the only way that I would come out of my hiding place when no one could find me was if they would bribe me with cookies.

One of my favorite food memories was when my family visited my grandparents for a week during the summer, they would have peanut M&Ms and Drake's Coffee Cakes waiting in the cabinets for us. Then, they would take us out to eat at the same restaurant for the same dinner on our first night with them.

I learned from my family to respect food as a symbol of love from a young age as well. Years ago, my sister and I would bond while making crepes or homemade eggrolls. I also grew up in a very Italian family, and every time we visited them, they would bombard us with food and hugs. They taught me that food is love, so you eat the food they put in front of you, whether you liked it or not, because otherwise it was considered rude.

So that is my background and how my association between love and food was created. Fast-forward to high school when I met one of my best friends Liv. She and I bonded initially because we liked the minions in the movie Despicable Me, but then, we found something even better that we have in common: we both love food.

We both have a passion for food. We see each other on every school break that we can so we can make a new recipe and watch Family Feud together. Liv and I have made everything from cheesy potatoes to ice cream pops to buffalo chicken dip (our favorite)!

cookie, cream, chocolate, ice, ice cream
Lisa Russo

I have five other best friends from high school as well. It was a small school, but as underclassmen we were not close friends although we all knew each other. Our friendship became real and strong during our senior year when we all decided to eat lunch together one day. After that first day, it became a routine to meet for lunch at the same spot every day and share laughs with our sandwiches.

Now, we all still meet up every chance we get at our favorite diner for $3 breakfast sandwiches and huge pancakes or at our favorite Greek restaurant for chips with spicy ranch dipping sauce.

tea, coffee, beer
Lisa Russo

I also met my boyfriend senior year of high school. He and I bonded while texting about our love of hams and his hatred of tomatoes. We finally met for the first time because I sent him a picture of my dinner from Chick-fil-a and he wanted some of it. 

coffee, beer
Lisa Russo

These are some of the most important people in my life. And to think, it all started with food.

By this point, I had figured out that food was a special force in my life. Nothing makes me happier than making a snack, meal, or dessert for someone and seeing them truly enjoy it.

So knowing that food is the basis of some of my strongest relationships, when I came to Bryant, I knew that I wanted to write for Spoon University. I wanted to meet other foodies and form new, strong, food-based friendships.

And that is exactly what I found here. I love my Spoonies. And I am grateful to food for bringing us together.

Lisa Russo