Friday, April 15, 2016

The food post

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.


  1. I eat paté for breakfast, and drink wine from cheap 'Duralex' kitchen glasses. Rabbit stews are a mainstay of winter foods too. Life doesn't change much here in France.

  2. I still eat mostly English food, the things my mother cooked, which is not that far removed from Eastern European cooking. Lots of meat, vegetables and potatoes. Red wine goes perfectly as an accompaniment. The glasses come from the local Esso Garage, circa 1976.

    1. I would imagine the seasoning your mother used was different though. I know you've spent time in Eastern Europe, which I haven't, and I wonder if the food there resembles the ethnic Jewish food with its sweet and sour flavor.

    2. I use more seasoning than she did for sure. My food resembles the food we had in Prague mostly, heavy on meat and dumplings. I do not recall too much sweet and sour flavours in Eastern Europe, starting as far back as 1975 right to my latest travels.

  3. My everyday wine glasses are 250 years old. I don't think it changes the taste at all, but I just like them. You have reminded me of when I was sitting in your kitchen as you cooked me pasta. I helpfully told you that one way of telling when spaghetti was cooked was to throw it against the wall. If it stuck, then it was cooked. So you drained the pan then threw the whole of the contents against the wall. Sasha looked horrified, but we laughed, as I remember.