With all of the political ridiculousness absolutely dominating our vision these days, I am determined to write about a very fun topic today, hoping you’ll share some of the same with me!
One of my readers recently asked me how I “became such a good cook” and if I had any training. She also wondered what some of my favorite foods are. I love this question! So, Melissa, here’s the scoop:
My mother was a horrible cook and because my father was both perpetually hungry and apparently had no taste buds, she never picked up on her lack of culinary skills and just kept trying things. Like spicy spaghetti. Which should NEVER be a thing. Ew. She also always worked outside of the home and at some point stopped shopping, I think. I was in a very rule-filled home and not allowed out much and the result of my being home without many food choices was creativity, if not skill. I was horrible with ideas and this was before the age of the interwebs so searching for how-to-cook videos was not an option. With no cooking experience whatsoever and left to myself, I created such culinary masterpieces as potato chips with melted processed cheese à la microwave and canned green beans also with square cheese slices and melted in the box of weird waves. I knew flour and butter and sugar was the start of baking so that as a mixture became something sweet to eat. Gross.
And then, a solution to both problems arrived in the form of a job at age 15 where I began waiting tables and working long hours at a bakery/restaurant with a very food-creative boss. Before long, I began assisting with catering some pretty fancy parties. I took the catering part pretty seriously and learned some beautiful food presentation and preparation techniques which awakened something in me.
I got married at 17 — GULP! More about that here. And I distinctly remember both our first grocery trip and planning my first meal to make for my sweet man for his arrival home from work the first day. To have my own kitchen and ideas and freedom was like lighting the kindling which became a roaring blaze that obviously has not stopped. I cooked on a very tight budget for MANY years and always found myself cooking for groups as we always have seemed to have the neatest people around our table!
We have traveled a LOT and I think foods from other locales stick out in my mind as my favorites. Many of my recipes are inspired by something I ate at a restaurant somewhere far away. I call a lot of my own recipes my favorite — this is my favorite dip, this my favorite soup, this my favorite dessert, my favorite meal — but because I make them often, they don’t stand out to me in the same way. Some of my favorite meals that jump to mind:
- Barramundi under a tin roof in a downpour in the Australian rainforest with fresh passion fruit for dessert.
- Fresh-caught Halibut in a quirky little restaurant on Prince Edward Island.
- My first Brazilian steakhouse in Montreal
- Melt-in-my-mouth ribeye made on an outdoor grill by a real cowboy at a dude ranch in Amarillo
- Chicken and waffles from Plae Bistro in Green Bay.
- Art Fair Gyros and fresh-squeezed lemonade in a giant cup with granules of sugar at the bottom
Besides making everything I dream of, I study videos, cooking shows, chefs in my free moments. I dream of ideas and research other folk’s methods. I practice and fail and succeed and the ones we love, you get to see. I love to challenge myself with a new technique and master it.
Food is an experience. It’s an art. It is most definitely science. It is a gift of love. It affects all of the senses. It can comfort and soothe. It can lift spirits and cause chemical changes in a body both good and bad. It is both a joy and a discipline. It bonds folks around a table. It, like a song, can bring you back to an experience and a different time in a heartbeat. It bonds us as we cook and eat together. It is mentioned a gazillion times in Scripture. It is my infinite pleasure to help you experience the best of it, and I so hope I do.
What foods do you love? What has your experience with food been? What are some of your most memorable meals? Join the discussion!