Chefs For Friends = Awesome Eats!

What’s your food history and relationship with food? Lately, I’ve been blessed to have people in my life who are chefs and food bloggers. This has taken my relationship with food to a whole new level of appreciation.

Growing up outside of Chicago and into a German family, I inherited a love for sauerkraut. My great-grandma and grandma made everything from scratch. They cooked in a decidedly Eastern European way.

My grandparents on both sides of the family had gardens and my parents were no exception. My grandparents even had chickens, so we would get fresh eggs. I guess, I’m not that new to the farm-to table experience. One of my fondest memories of my childhood home was the garden in our back yard. One half was food, the other half was flowers. It was glorious.

We didn’t go to restaurants often. However, I do remember a time my parents took my sister and I to the Howard Johnson’s for dinner. I was about six and decided I wanted friend clams. My parents tried to talk me out of them, but they were decidedly different from anything we ever had at home. My parents were right (I was six!) but obviously, even at an early age, I had no trouble with new foods.

Mom, for all her best efforts, was not the greatest adventurer in food.  However, she was a marketer’s dream as she tried every new quick food they put on the shelves. Never will forget Shake-A Pudd’n.

We have to remember how different the landscape of food was back in the 60’s and 70’s. I have a great cookbook all about that called American Gourmet by Jane and Michael Stern.

As an adult, a group of friends started a “dinner club” which lasted for afew years.  Every month we would meet and make foods of a related theme.  The most memorable was our “Cuban Dinner”.  We gorged ourselves on jamon croquetas, fried plantains, frijoles negros, lechon assado, yuca and mojitos. Greatest night! (And we were all kind of sick the next day as the food was so rich.)

I do have an eye for a great recipe and am a good cook, but never have been the best at just throwing things together.  I cooked and cooked and cooked, always trying new recipes and getting my group of culturally diverse friends to give me their recipes to try.

When I had a child who was a tween, she was beside herself:
“MOM! Why can’t you just cook like a “regular” Mom?”
“And, how does a “regular” Mom cook?”
“I just want pizza and chicken nuggets like everyone’s Mom makes.” “Well, isn’t THAT just so healthy. . .um. . .no.”
Ironically, she is now in the food service industry and is grateful for the cooking education she inadvertently received.

Now, being friends with other food lovers, it’s been an eye-opening experience.   Vanessa will only eat at a restaurant that is not a chain. Steven has a passion for cooking and is in the industry. Gabrielle just finished a culinary curriculum and is my “Go To Girl” as well as an active social media foodie, and Johanna just published a book “Food Lover’s Guide to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill”.

And then, who can resist a man that went to culinary school, is a career chef and cooks for you? *swoon* One with such passion for food, it appeared to be almost orgasmic to put that herb crusted chicken roll, filled with panchetta, havarti cheese, green onion, baby portabello mushrooms and whatever else was in there, into the saute pan.

 

The delight he took in creating the green onion garnish, wow.

There were leftovers and I brought them to school to share with the teachers.  They were a bit hesitant until I told them Charles made it. The leftovers vanished immediately.

Life is good!

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