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Monday, March 15, 2010

Obsessed

Today, while watching last weeks' episode of Tony Bourdains' No Reservations (ok, so I cannot stay up late enough to watch the new episodes on Monday nights), I took note of the theme of the show, which was food-based obsessions.  The show also included food bloggers, which I was particularly interested in, being a new food blogger myself.  Sidebar:  Good combined word....foodie + blogger = FLOGGER!! In more ways than one, I'm sure. Or, even better = BLOODIE!! (blogger who is a foodie). In case anyone asks, I MADE IT UP FIRST!!  I also call dibs on the front seat of the car, the first hot french fry out of the box, and the line at the ladies restroom.  Seriously, you do NOT want to see me doing the pee-pee dance, it's almost as painful to watch as it is to perform.

Did I get off topic there for a minute?  Anyhoo...my point is that if someone were to try to nail down where my unique food obsession lies, I'm not sure I could pin it down to any one item, or cuisine for that matter.  I think, like most things food-related it all begins in childhood, and having a Mother and extended family that despite not being wealthy, provided an amazing array of tasty unforgettable dishes to grow up on, was key.  Even my Mom's simple steak sandwich (small, served on hamburger buns and just FILLED with flavor) can make me salivate to this day.  My Grandmothers' Portuguese Canja, a wonderful chicken and rice soup, was as simple as it was memorable.  If I have a cold (rare) I simply have to make it, like I am commanded by Nana to make it, from the great beyond.  She was right.

 Of course, growing up in South Florida, the amazing array of Stone Crabs, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi, not Flipper already) grouper, snapper, conchs, blue crabs and shrimp....what can one say?  We came from Fall River, Mass., and Connecticut, and brought with us those wonderful New England ways with seafood as well.  Clams stuffed with Chorizo (pronounced SHER-EEESE in my family), lobster of course, New England boiled dinner, and full-belly clams rolled in cornmeal, fried simply, and eaten while still hot enough to leave a line of hot clam juice trail all the way down my happy throat.  Who could grow up with this background, and not turn into a serious foodie? The three years spent in Europe, in my formative twenties did not hurt either...for instance; the smoked eel sandwich in Holland that was a revelation, the wonderful Indian curries had in the West End in London, the incredible lunch at a hole in the wall restauraunt in Lyon, France.  They all had such an indelible impression on me, that I set about to re-create that moment in anyone who tastes anything I create. By the way, my chippie in Orton Goldhay, a suburb of Peterborough in England, made the ultimate cod, chips & mushy peas and will forever be my favorite food memory of England.  Doused in vinegar, piping hot and grease-free - all fish and chips should be this good. And pictured below, my re-creation of potstickers from a favortie Asian restaurant I used to frequent in Sacramento, California....my favorite place in the world....



I guess if one had to try to get to the bottom of it, I'd have to say that I'm all about the quest for the very best flavors, textures and combinations.  If you use the very freshest ingredients, (and I know that sounds trite nowadays, but it's true) cook with true love and attention to detail, the results can be magical.  I heard it described in one of the best ways by someone who said; "Cooking is the only art form which can affect people on the cellular level". Think about that for a minute.  Am I going to fill someone's body with grease, and fat, and disgusting, disease-producing, pre-packaged crap?  Or am I going to gently roast whole garlic (it smells wonderful in here) for my chicken cacciatore tonight? Is it extra work, particularly on a weeknight?  You bet.  Is it worth it?  Just look at your son/daughter/husband/family, and you'll know the answer. Eat well, my friends.

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