Thursday, March 10, 2011

for starters.

what better place to start than at the beginning.
like most adults scavenging their pasts to locate themselves in the present, i've come to a clichee and all too common conclusion. i blame my mother, for, well, just about everything. okay, not everything. but, i do blame her for my inability to censor myself or to control the volume of my voice. i blame her for my crazy, my spontaneity, my incurable desire to keep it moving, to never stop dancing, laughing, or loving.
but, most of all, i blame her for my insatiable appetite.
partially, because she has always told me i could have anything i wanted, do anything i wanted, be anything - you know, the classic mother spiel. but moreso, it is because she is the most amazing cook.

on any given night, atop her blazing, fire-engine red, oversized, dining room table, the most lavish, extravagant feasts just seem to materialize out of thin air. it doesn’t matter if it’s for two people or a large entourage of family and friends- which is more often than not the case. it’s all the same to her. sometimes for my mother, cooking is an all day love affair. sometimes, it takes her no time at all. what is so absolutely amazing is that the quality of the meal is always the same; no matter what the cuisine, it is always delicious. it is always genuinely rich, full of flavor and love, and she seems to do it effortlessly.

on the occasions when i am lucky enough to find myself seated at her ridiculously large red table, i tend to find myself in a food coma by the end of the night. this is because i ignore my body’s pleas to put the fork down, for the love of god, just put it down. other times it's because upon receiving her dinner invitation, i will say - why no i haven’t eaten yet, i’ll be right over- all the while shamefully staring at what is now destined to be my first dinner of the night.
portion control has never been my strong suit.

and so, i eat.
i cook.
i love to eat.
and, i love to cook. 

even more than these things though, i love to feed other people. hosting dinner parties is one of my absolute favorite things to do in life. sure, gratitude and praise is not such terrible motivation. especially, when i get everything just right and i feel it is deserved. but, there’s something so rewarding about nourishing others, whether the job is thankless or thankful.
this, i know i inherited from my mother, and for which i especially blame her. (sidenote: please feel free to go back and substitute the the word 'thank' for each blame, just in case my sarcasm was lost on you the first time).

so, eat my heart, because that is my intention here, to share my perpetual hunger for all that i love and cannot get enough of. mostly, that will be food. 
but, i have been called capricious once or twice before, and my love, while not fleeting, is constantly evolving. so, feast until your full, and then feast some more.
eat yr heart (out). 

i will leave you with a few pictures of my recent (food)loves:

this first picture is from Cafe Gitane in NYC, a french and mediterranean fusion restaurant in Soho.  I'm a firm believer in stealing recipes and improving upon them, although this recipe needed very little improving upon.  i make it all the time now, and it's a hit at dinner parties. it's such a refreshing salad, and so easy to make.
just combine shaved fennel, fresh mint, oranges, avocado, hearts of palm, and arugula. for the dressing, simply mix up some olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. 
and voila, perfection. 

this second picture features two of my favorite things: my beautiful friend, Dasha, known affectionately among our friends as the "russian destruction," and the inside of my favorite chi-town restaurant, Lula's Cafe. Featured on our table is their chickpea and sweet potato tagine with arugula, cinnamon, harissa, and couscous, a side of olive-oil and dill marinated beets, and my personal favorite/star of many a dinner parties i've hosted, pasta yia-yia. i love this recipe for its simplicity, all you need is butter, brown sugar, garlic, feta, cinnamon, and bucatini pasta. 
cook the pasta, melt some butter (well a lot of butter actually, sometimes i kind of halve the butter needed and add olive-oil, just so i can stave off my impending heart attack for a few more years. i mean, i love this recipe, but it is by no means good for you, like a lot of the foods i love. but, i digress) then sautee the garlic (in the butter or oil) until you get the awesome garlic aroma filling up your kitchen and it's starting to brown, add dashes of brown or raw sugar to taste, add in the feta and let it melt a bit. when the sauce is ready, toss it with the cooked pasta, and then garnish with some cinnamon sprinkled on top and some more feta. and voila, perfection. 

this picture is celebrating brussel sprouts. they are probably the least appreciated, most loathed vegetable. but i am their number one fan. dressed up or down, these bad boys are delish. i'm pretty sure they are good for me, too. like asparagus, or spinach, a tiny bit of olive oil (or butter for the less healthy minded), lemon juice, salt & peppa, and they are ready to go (hot or cold). love 'em. 

now, this last picture while not the most aesthetically pleasing, embodies the most direct route to my heart: 
CARBS. especially, potatoes. i'm like that guy from forest gump who loves shrimp so much, only my shrimp are potatoes. seriously. so, this picture was taken on an especially hungover day at Hamburger King's in Chicago (known as Chester's to the regulars). the place is run by a korean woman named, Sonia, who has a pimp's limp and a warm smile. she also gives off the vibe that she is a woman not to be messed with, maybe it's the limp...  but, i digress. this place is a chicago classic, serving asian fare alongside your standard greasy spoon type stuff. they are known for their rice and gravy, and a few other asian dishes i can neither spell nor pronounce, so i will not even try. needless to say, if you find yourself hungover in chi-town, and near wrigleyville, find this place. go there. and, eat a lot.  

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