Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Butterfly Effect Meme: I've Been Tagged!


Some weeks ago, Jeanne asked me to take part in this. I knew I had way too much going on at the time to even glance at it, so I tucked it away for a less busy day.

Yeah. That's not going to happen.

You'll notice most of these fall around the time I moved from a very small area in Northwestern Pennsylvania to the considerably hipper Oakland, California. This was a very big, and important, time in my life, so it's no wonder this move and change had such an impact on food and cooking!

So, here I go...

The questions are simple, the answers might be harder - an item, person, event, or place that had that effect on you, and why. They don't have to be big splashy things - sometimes it's something very small and simple that changes the way we view the world - the famed butterfly effect (and I'm not talking about the Ashton Kutcher movie). So, to those who want to participate, copy this and pass it on (and, if you're so inclined, do a trackback to the originating post). Here are your categories:

1. An ingredient:

Avocado. Hands down.
I don't think I'd even seen an avocado before I moved to Oakland. The grocery stores in my hometown...well, they didn't really stock much beyond the usual meat and potatoes. When I returned from my first visit with Matt, I went to the cheese counter, looking for some of the fabulous cheeses he'd had for me. St. Andre, smoked Rambol...much to my (non)surprise, they didn't carry a single one.
So, I think I first had avocado in sushi, although I could be wrong. I was getting it in salads, on sandwiches, veggie burgers...I so completely fell in love with it, I would skip the cheese on a sandwich in favor of a few slices of avocado.
This was also a very important step for me, learning how unfamiliar foods could add so much flavor to dishes.

2. A dish or recipe:

Has to be sushi.
Don't laugh! Most of you know I'm nuts for sushi, but getting me to eat it was a very involved and lengthy process.
Coming from the place I did, there was no sushi. It was a word, evoking chunks of raw fish. That's about it.
Matt, patiently, I must add, explained that 'sushi' did not translate to 'raw fish', but rather, a method of food prep, a style of cooking.
I was skeptical. Wary.
But one day, after running out to grab a few things from a rather upscale market, he returned with a small carton of maki (this place has a counter in the store, staffed by actual Japanese, so don't wrinkle your nose at me).
I can't recall if it was cucumber or avocado, or both, but Matt finally convinced me to give it a try.
I ate a piece, but reserved my judgment.
It wasn't until the next day that I was finally able to tell him 'Ok, I think I like this'.
I think you know the rest..!

3. A meal (in a restaurant, a home, or elsewhere):

Dinner at Dromoland Castle.
I come from a very home-style way of cooking. Stews, chili, pork chops with boiled potatoes, fish fries.
I learned many new ways of cooking as the years went on, and have had fine meals in many restaurants (Oliveto, Fleur de Lys), and made some fairly spectacular ones myself.
But for me, the best meal I've ever had has to be during our honeymoon in Ireland.
Matt and I agree that for atmosphere, we prefer Ashford Castle.
But for food? Dromoland, hands down.
We scheduled our meal early (I hate eating late in the evening), and from the moment we walked into the dining room, I was blown away.
The decor (that was real crystal in the many chandeliers), the service (cute, attentive men anticipating my every need? heaven!), and most of all...the food.
I won't go into the details, although Matt has a brief review here. But never before, and not since, have I had tasted food like this.

4. A cookbook or other written work:

My very first cookbook was given to me by my Aunt Lois; Earthly Delights: Everyday Vegetarian Cooking : Over 750 Simple and Delicious Recipes for Everyday Meals and Special Occasions.
At this stage, I was pretty much winging it when it came to cooking and eating as a vegetarian.
But with this book, my eyes were opened to so many new ingredients (bulgur?) and recipes. In fact, not long after receiving this, I invited a co-worker and her boyfriend over for dinner, so I could try a few recipes.
I don't use this one very often...it tends to get lost among the Moosewoods and Vegetarian Times compilations...but without it, I'd probably still be eating some pretty boring foods!

5. A food personality (chef, writer, etc.):

I suppose there have been a couple.
Linda McCartney was the first I got to know. I had a lot of respect for her, her work ethic, and her dedication to animal rights and vegetarianism. I was on my way back from a Pirates game (that had been rained out before we even got to Pittsburgh) when, after playing "Helen Wheels", the WDVE jock announced that Linda had succumbed to her cancer. I cried a little.
More recently, it has to be Ina Garten. I love her recipes..simple, but big on ingredients and flavor. And she seems, to me, to very much be the mother I never had. I keep wishing I could get her to adopt me!

6. Another person in your life:

This one's easy.
Matt has brought so many new ingredients, flavors, cuisines...into my life. He's been supportive of me in my quest to master each and every style of cooking and my crazy late-night baking jags. Whether it's the quest for the perfect fried chicken, or not coming to bed because I've been making cinnamon rolls, he understands.
He's my best taste-tester, and he always encourages me (in ever aspect of my life) to try...whatever it is.
He's helped me overcome food phobias, introduced me to so many foods I know consider my favorite (sushi and Indian, to quickly name a couple). And despite the fact that he's a really good cook, as well, he's happy to surrender control of the kitchen to me, but just as content to make something, just for me.
You get lucky in life, sometimes.

You won't want to miss the most fabulous Blog Party ever, coming Saturday, 16 December! This month, we're going HOLLYWOOD...Lights, Camera, Action! RSVP by Thursday, 14 December; hope to see you there.

Tagged with: + +

5 Thoughts for food:

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Your answers are very interesting, and those last 2 are very very sweet.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Sara; that's what makes these memes so intersting...we all have something different to say, all come from different backgrounds!

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Hey - you finally made it! Thanks for that (now I'll REALLY have to show up for Blog Party ;-))

Great answers - and I know what you mean abotu growing up somewhere that isn't exactly a culinary hotspot. I first tasted sushi in 2001 - until then I also kind of got stuck on the whole "raw fish - eeewwwww!" thing. My ex-boss from my brief days in a Big Corporate in London came to my hometown on a tour and took me out to dinner. I was in a panic as he ate almost exclusively at Nobu in London and I had no idea where to suggest we go. In the end I plumped for the only sushi restaurant in town at the time, figuring I could always have tempura or something. In the end he persuaded me to try the sushi. I had no idea what wasabi was and had only seen pickled ginger once - I felt like such a hick!! But a couple of bites was all it took and I was in love (with the sushi!! :o))

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

And btw, my Nick has managed to get me eating raw tomatoes, curry and even (lately) some chiles! Quite an achievement.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Jeanne; so the moral of this story is husband's are good for our palate?!

I'll be watching for your entry!


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