Have I ever told you about the time I spent twenty hours writing a sonnet based on a newspaper story about a mother gorilla who adopted another gorilla’s baby when the other gorilla neglected it? No, probably not. Anyway, I wrote that sonnet—poured my sweat and energy into it every spare minute for days—because my poetry teacher gave it to us as a challenge. To this day, it’s one of my favorite pieces, both because it was so very difficult to do, and because my hard work paid off and I got a beautiful poem out of it, if I do say so myself.
What about how much fun it was for me to make a whole party’s worth of food for a meeting my partner held at his house for a very diverse group of eaters: one who eats no red meat; one who is seriously (like ER serious) allergic to about a dozen common foods; etc.? That party was a blast for me because I got to stretch my abilities, play with food, and be wholly attentive to something I love—food and feeding people—for a full day while surrounded by the people I love.
I have so many stories like this, where the challenge of the thing is the fun part. My vegan Thanksgiving. The goat-cheese cheesecake for the cow’s-milk-allergic guest. The exciting and challenging dinner I’m making for a fellow foodie’s blog event this November 15th.
I live for these things. Thrive on them. Seek them out.
This is why, even though my mom’s not French, I jumped at the chance to join French Fridays with Dorie. It’s a weekly chance to see if I have what it takes to make food that may be out of my comfort zone, or contain ingredients or techniques I’ve never used before.
And this is why I’m giving the Iron Foodie Contest a shot. If they choose me to compete, I have to take a few of their secret ingredients and create something fabulous. I think I can do it, don’t you?
And look—I even get to answer a survey about myself, and talking about themselves is what Serenes love best!
1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
See above. I simply adore a challenge, especially one involving food. My first wife used to say that I could make an omelet out of a box of saltines and a jelly bean. I took that as a compliment. I can whip up dinner from the most unlikely of ingredients, not because I have some special skill at cooking, but because such things are just fun for me.
2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
Well, since Dorie Greenspan isn’t on that list, I’ve gotta pick Julia, who said Dorie writes recipes like she did. I had a chance to meet Dorie recently (briefly), and I have rarely known such graciousness and charm.
3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
Oh, I’m so much more brazen (and ethical) than that: I simply ask! If they don’t want those mushrooms there, I’m all over them. Corn fritters too much for you? Please, let me take those off your hands. Don’t suppose you have room for that last piece of apple cake…?
4. Sum your childhood up in one meal.
My mother is half-Italian, half-Jewish, and I often have teased that I grew up on matzoh lasagna. Really, though, the essence of my mom food is probably best found in her pot roast: Meaty, but with lots of vegetables. TONS of garlic. Warm, homey, simple, delicious. Yes. Yum.
5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
Almond extract. Bleah. Yuck. Bleargh.