Sunday, January 16, 2011

Popping the Proverbial Cherry

The Beginning
Some people just eat to live, I live to eat.

I can't tell you when this fascination started.  It has been so ingrained in me since I was a child that it now has become a part of me.  My styles may change, my interests may change but my love for food is here to stay.  I have been meaning to start a food blog for a while now and this is my maiden voyage into my love (and the world) of gastric delights.

Food was a huge part of my life growing up.  Coming from an Italian family, food was a way of life.  Celebrations in my family were about food first, family second.  When I think back on my childhood the memories that stand out the most are Sunday dinners, either at my grandmother's or at my house.  Pots of Gravy, antipasto, italian pastries these are my comfort food for they bring me back to my childhood faster than anything else that tickles my sense.  My love for food though doesn't stop at the Italian peasant cuisine I grew up with.  Oh no, it expands to all regions on this planet.

My mother is not Italian, she is of Irish, English and German descent.  Growing up poor in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, food in her family was a commodity that sometimes wasn't available.  When she became an adult, cooking and baking was something she excelled at, out of necessity from being on her own at the young age of 19 and also, I believe, because of the fact she grew up hungry. Her love of cooking brought her to try new foods and to cook new foods.  In fact, before she married my dad my Italian grandmother would have cooking lessons to teach my mom the basics of Italian cooking so my dad wouldn't have to go without his comfort foods.   Growing up, I remember her cooking every night and the food was always good.  Money was tight at times as I was growing up and we couldn't always go out to eat, but my mother, if she had to, could put together meals from scraps out of the annals of her pantry.  But we always had food in the house, something my mother and my Italian father made sure of because they both loved to eat.

Because they loved to eat, I learned to love eating.  As I got older, I also learned to love the art of eating out (not that you pervs).  Going to nice restaurants growing up was a rare but welcome treat.  One of my favorites is Real Madrid on Forest Avenue in Staten Island.  They specialized in Spanish cuisine but when I think of Real Madrid, I think Lobster special - (2) 1 1/4 lb lobsters for about 20 bucks which was a steal. Lobster is a food that was usually reserved for Christmas eve in my house - we celebrated the 7 fish like true Italians and lobster was always the piece de resistance.  Lobster is also on the top of my favorite food list.  Keep reading this blog and I am promise to share with you a lobster recipe that you will love.  It is the way, the only way, my family will serve lobster and it is delicious. Back to Real Madrid, if you ever find yourself in Staten Island and want a fine dining experience that is pocket book friendly, go there.  The food is amazing, from their paella, fried potato chips, black bean soup.  For me though, lobster was the dish to get off their menu especially if it is lobster festival time.

As I got older, I found that I loved cooking.  I really didn't help my mom growing up, most of the time she would shoo us out of the kitchen while she cooked.  When I was younger it bothered me, as I got older I realized it was because cooking was her release.  She would get focused and it became a methodical form of therapy for her.  My mom would become zen-like while cooking, the art of lovingly preparing food for her family was her thing so to speak.  Now that I am adult, I get to help my mom cook.  Usually I am her sous chef or clean up crew but cooking together is something I enjoy doing.  Being she now lives in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and I am in Savannah, we phone each other regularly, and most of our conversations are about food.  What we are cooking, what we had when we went out to dinner or new recipes.  Food has bonded me with my mother in ways our mother- daughter relationship couldn't and I can't think of cooking a great meal or going out for a nice dinner without thinking of her.  I have to admit I am a pretty good cook myself, my husband even says that I am better than my mom (but don't tell her that).  When I cook I find that zen-like state that my mom always found in cooking and I love preparing meals for my family.  Nothing feels better than trying a recipe and realizing that you like your own food better than the food you get at some restaurants.  Sometimes convenience wins out and we go out to eat more than we should, diet wise and budget wise.  In the end, I am always left with the thought that I should have just cooked that night.

My Mission Statement
So here I am, finally writing the blog that I talked about starting for months, even years.  When I realized most of my Facebook statuses had to do with food - the food I was preparing, thinking of preparing or eating - whether at home or a restaurant - I realized I needed to expand on my food based love.  One of the things I love doing is sharing recipes with people.  It astounds me how many people don't like to cook or think that they can even cook.  Like most foodies, I want to evangelize cooking to those who don't think they can do it, it isn't hard.  It just takes some focus and patience, faith and most importantly, love.

  I often take pictures of my food while cooking it and then share the recipe. I feel this helps people visualize a dish through the steps, kind of like a check system to make sure one is doing it right. Mike (the hubs) bought me a really nice camera (a Canon Rebel t1i) for our 7th date-versary so I can finally have a hobby (he doesn't believe shopping and collecting designer handbags is a viable hobby,  I still disagree) and I often find myself taking pictures of my food.  This blog will be an outlet for my food themed photography along with the recipes of what dish I am preparing du jour.  But most importantly, this blog will be a place to celebrate food in every aspect and from most (if not every cuisine)

I hope you all enjoy this blog, and to those who just eat to live, I hope you find that you will want to live to eat, striving to try new foods and foreign cuisines..  Food is something that universally defines the human condition, all I ask is that you step out of the boundary and try something different.  You may just like it (and then want to cook it).

Michelle :)

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