I guess it's time for my food post. I think two major influences helped develop my palate. The first was the ethnic food I grew up with as a secular Jew. We never celebrated Jewish holidays or went to services, but Eastern European dishes were a regular feature of my mother's cooking. I grew up loving the fatty cuts of meat, like brisket, and the sweet and sour flavor of rich soups seasoned with vinegar, tomato and honey. I remember a deliciously unctuous dish of chicken wings and giblets flavored with paprika that my grandmother made. Smoked fish was our standard Sunday breakfast. My gentile husband preferred dry meat and plain potatoes, so my children never knew this cuisine. Only my oldest, who grew up eating my mother's cooking every summer, developed a taste for such foods. These were occasional dishes mixed in with the usual 1950s American fare of meatloaf, steak and frozen vegetables and they remain favorites.
When I was 20, I was introduced to French country cooking in the kitchen of the farmer whose grapes I picked one October near Nimes. Here I learned to like real coffee, I had pate for breakfast and I ate rabbit for the first time, and all meals were washed down with a thin red wine drunk out of kitchen glasses. It was a revelation.
I still prefer European cooking and haven't really taken to the global cuisine that is taking over. I don't care for Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian or Mexican, which makes me look fussy when someone suggest a meal out.