Where does your passion for food come from?
Today I was eating with my father at a large Chinese buffet (Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet). While the food is OK, its the fact that my dad and I have this place that's in our rotation that makes it special to me. My earliest memories of food are with my mother and father.
My mothers contribution to my culinary life is small but very important. I got my amazing appetite from her, and I don't mean an appetite I mean a real appetite. When my wife first met my mother and saw how much she ate she would say, "its disgusting to see a woman eat so much". It made me feel proud (I think its a boy thing). My mother is not a large woman either which makes it all that much more fun. Needless to say my father would have to make 2-3 chicken breast a night for my mother and I (just to give you a little perspective). She made a ramen dish with the noodles made like fried rice (peas, carrots, onions, little soy sauce) with sliced browned smoked sausage (beef kielbasi). My kids and I call it Hot Dog Fried Noodles. It's a special happy food memory that I'm getting to share with my kids.
My father was a little more hands on with my culinary training. He was in the Coast Guard and went to cook school (I don't know if that a proper term but that's how he refers to it). He also worked with a pastry chef at a large hotel, owned a restaurant, and sold food supplies to restaurants all over the country. So his credentials are legit and he started teaching me at a very young age. Some of the time I didn't see what he was making but there was a lot of thought that went into what we were going having. Sometimes Dad would decide on a Saturday that we were going to Dekalb Farmers Market because he wanted to make egg rolls. He would also cook like he was still in the military. We would have a serious amount of leftovers but as I explained about our appetites earlier none of it went to waste. There are so many memories like this that I can't tell you all in an entire blog. One meal above all stands out to me, mainly because most of the people I know will not touch it, and that's liver and onions. He would fry it like country fried steak, make a gravy with a healthy amount of onions, and serve it with mash potatoes. I seriously love that meal, and I love it even more that people refuse to eat liver. I do have to give my father lots of credit because I ate food that no other kids would eat because he made them better than they might ever try.
Just the other night I had a batch of plantains that were a little under ripe for my liking and wanted to make sure that I was making them how my father does, so I called him. First as I'm calling him I remember him making plantains when I was a kid and could see how he would fix this problem. As he answered and listened to me then responded by telling me that I was doing what he would do and he started laughing because he was doing the same thing at the same time (now that's a little creepy).
Going forward I want my passion and my kids passion to be an endless bowl of creativity. My Dad started me on that mission and its my sincere hope to continue the tradition.