My mother likes to point out that I was the first person in the family to branch out beyond my "food roots" - the home-cooked family style recipes she taught me, which her mother taught her, and her mother before her, and so on. Basically, if it wasn't served at my great-grandmother's farmhouse table in Missouri in the 1920s, or my grandma's table in San Diego in the 1940's it wasn't likely to appear on my mom's kitchen table in California in the 1960's. Even when I married young and set up my own kitchen I wasn't so adventurous as all that. It wasn't until after that marriage ended, when I moved away and developed an "extended family" that my culinary tendrils began to unfurl.
Living in Cincinnati with its rich and diverse culinary heritage, traveling to great restaurants throughout the USA. My friends and I dined as best we could through the week, but come the weekend we would throw together these amazing feasts, jokingly called "Punk Gourmet Nights" (OK, it was the 80's, so cut me some slack)... We would meet on Saturday morning, at our mecca - the amazing Findlay Market in Over-The-Rhine. We'd stock up on the freshest local produce, then avail ourselves of the amazing assortment of organic meats, European baked goods, sausages, cheeses, asian specialties, freshly roasted nuts and mediterranean pastries, you name it. Whatever "Punk Gourmet" theme we would devise, there were choices aplenty at the market, and unlike a trip to Whole Foods today, back then at Findlay Market we could do most of our shopping for the week and still have money in our pockets. Then we'd head home with our treasures and begin cooking for the big event. Later we would assemble at someone's apartment and make an evening of it - with one rule - NO LEFTOVERS! The fare was creative, informed by the moment and the market, and in no small part a product of all of our culinary history. My friends and I were sharing our own newly contrived dishes alongside those of our respective moms and grandmothers. I guess that was the beginning of my obsession with international cooking - and through the years I have taken the time to learn my way around regional Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Spanish, French, German, and even even good old American. I have amassed a sizable collection of cookbooks, and I read and write about cooking every day.
Now my dear friends are scattered across the country. I live in North Florida, where I enjoy cooking for and with my family. My niece Kelly loves to watch cooking shows and recreate the recipes. My sister Maureen is an expert at Beef Taquitos and Chicken Enchiladas, and my mom can make just about anything taste great, though she seldom strays far from those Missouri farm roots. We all try to get together on Sundays, and whatever we choose to eat, we thoroughly enjoy one another's company.
Today we sampled cheeses from Cypress Grove Chevre. Kelly LOVES their new Truffle Tremor, my favorite is Purple Haze, but we all adore Humboldt Fog and Midnight Moon. Three generations of women "dined' at our Florida condo table - a fresh baguette, some excellent cheeses, a bottle of wine and good company made it the perfect four ingredient meal. I'll bet all those mothers and grandmothers who came before us would have enjoyed it too. Be it ever so humble....