The Literate Chef

Everybody Has a Story

In General Articles on April 9, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Everybody has a story. It is how these stories are conveyed that determines the ability of the storyteller to attract the attention of the listeners. The same may be said of food. Everybody is capable of preparing a meal, but it is how the food is prepared and presented that attracts those for whom it is prepared and whether or not it will be memorable.

Growing up in my family, mealtime, primarily dinner, was always a special time for us. When my father came home for work at the Post Office, we would sit down together to eat and to discuss the day. On Sunday’s, after Mass, invariably we would gather with my aunts, uncles and cousins at Grandma & Grandpa’s apartment off of Webster Avenue in The Bronx. We called it ‘Grandma & Grandpa’s’, but the apartment was actually that of my aunt and uncle, the building superintendent. Those meals were the most memorable!

Grandpa & Me in Inwood Park

Grandma with Cousin Bobby















Those memories actually begin with the anticipation and excitement of being all together, eating delicious food, hearing new and often repeated family stories, as well as the jokes and laughter that accompanied each anecdote. Upon walking into the building lobby, taking that first breath and inhaling the aromas emanating from their apartment, we knew that an enjoyable time awaited us.

As my wife and I began to raise our own family and entertain relatives and friends, we first learned to cook basic meals. Then we began to experiment with more elaborate ones. The ones I liked best were those where we tried to re-create a dish, after experiencing something in a restaurant. We would play the guessing game: What ingredients made this particular dish unique? What spices were added? What cooking method did the chef employ? How did he prepare that sauce? Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, well if that is the case then we flattered a lot of chefs over the years.

What follows are stories from some of those meals, both original meals, as well as those which we re-created, accompanied by recipes for one or more of the dishes that comprised the meal and made it so memorable.

Please Continue to: Pasta Memories

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