The “buy me some peanuts and cracker jack” era has slowly diminished from America’s iconic sport of Baseball. Replaced with gut-busting new dishes, filled with overly satisfying dips and cheeses, the food of today’s baseball game is intricately designed around the concept of quality. The love affair between food and baseball is a timeless sentiment but while this is America’s favorite pastime couple, it has now evolved into a game of excellence, weeding out the average overcooked stadium hot dogs and replacing them with plump lobster rolls; and there may be a bit more happening behind the scenes than most fans think.
“For me, food has a big impact on my daily eating habits,” says David Peterson, General Manager for the Worcester Bravehearts. As a Type 1 diabetic, Peterson spends his days analyzing his food and tip-toeing around the food carts of Fitton Field. “I have to focus on my meals because I am a type 1 diabetic. I was diagnosed late in life, at the age of 28, so I have to be especially careful about what I eat – I have to count carbs every meal and I wear an insulin pump. I am spokesperson for American Diabetes Association, locally, and I talk quite a bit about what it is like to live with diabetes. Food choices are very much part of my day to day, but that wasn’t the case for my first 28 years,” says Peterson as he continues to describe his life-changing diagnosis.
“When you are diabetic, your sugar consumption has to be monitored and that’s tough because I’m a coffee guy,” says Peterson.
Maintaining control is critical for Peterson, both on and off the field and while diabetes has altered his lifestyle, it has not hindered his view on dining out and engaging in social functions centralized around culinary cuisines, as he finds a direct correlation between food and his success day-in and day-out.
“Eating healthier isn’t just about my blood sugar but it’s about feeling better and being more productive throughout the day. I’m constantly on-the-go and maintaining a balance day of eating, helps me retain my energy and strengths for longer days. When I was diagnosed in 2008, I found myself experiencing constant muscle cramps and losing over 25 lbs without trying. My work, has always been demanding and since my diagnosis I am more aware of what I need to be healthy and productive,” he says. “And while, my wife, Amy, does a great job keeping things fresh in the kitchen with new recipes and cooking ideas – like our recent cauliflower crust pizza – we still enjoy the luxuries of going out to dine and meeting new people.”
Social interaction is an integrated piece to Peterson’s DNA. As the face of the Worcester Bravehearts and with a personality so magnetic, it would be hard to contain Peterson’s outgoing spirit because of limited dining options.
“What I love the most is going out and meeting new people while dining or while waiting to be seated. It’s great,” says Peterson. “I’m not a shy guy,” he laughs, “so while I am out with Amy, I like to have a good laugh and enjoy my time with new people and learn about their recommendations or their favorite places to eat. We visited Ireland in 2012 and while the Irish are not known for their culinary skills, they had an amazing atmosphere in their restaurants. A nice sense of community and network. The signs outside the restaurants always said ‘hot food’ or ‘warm food’ and never ‘good food’ but that was okay because the quality of service and community was worth it.”
“Some of my favorite places in Massachusetts are the local Inns,” he says. “The Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, is something special. There was an apple cider prime rib over firecooked root vegetables and it was perfection. The Vienna in Southbridge is another classic local Inn with exposed wooden beams, a fireplace and a great ambience,” says Peterson. “But it may be hard to take my word on some dishes because I like everything. Food is good. Period.”
Growing up in a home infusing the culinary skills of both his Polish and Swedish heritage, Peterson has a palate ready to accommodate a diverse level of foods – and with that, a high tolerance. “My mother was a baker. Not a cook,” laughs Peterson. “We used to eat this Polish dish called Golabkis – it is basically a cabbage roll – and let’s just say when Uncle Jim came over with the Golabkis, I found a way to avoid them – at all costs. I might be shunned by the Polish community but I could do away with the cabbage.”
“My mother cooked Polish foods but I covered everything with a heavy coat of gravy to help with the flavors. I mean, it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great. She definitely was great at baking sweets,” he says.
Even now, as an adult Peterson shares his love for the Swedish side in his family.
“When we have holiday dinners, I always break out the Swedish meatballs – how could I not? There are a classic. Whether its veal and lamb or a mix of pork, Swedish meatballs are delicious,” says Peterson. “Amy and I split up the kitchen. I take control of the grill and she handles the stove so when we have guests over – you’ll be sure to find me grilling a nice steak and Brussel sprouts, if I’m not making my famous Swedish meatballs.”
“My experience with food has allowed me to look into our stadium food and the bigger picture on the role food plays in our lives. There’s just something about food and the interaction it causes with people. We, at The Bravehearts, try to incorporate this element into our concessions stands. We stem from high-quality hot dogs and the classic stadium food but add on great dishes like the chicken sandwich and lobster rolls.,” says Peterson.
Baseball and food may be longtime partners, but with a new perspective like David Peterson’s, the local baseball game will transform the meaning of family-friendly.