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TheFoodTutor

eG Foodblog: TheFoodTutor - The Man Behind the Curtain.

133 posts in this topic

I know that most bloggers feel a slight sense of apprehension when embarking on a foodblog, that apprehension stemming from comparing one's self to those who've gone before, and I'm certainly no different, especially on the heels of Varmint's fabulous Southern food and his adorable children. Of course, I have to do everyone one better, in that I'd been meaning to title my installment, "My Acquaintance With the Man Behind the Curtain," and yet I didn't even think to check as to whether there were too many characters in that sentence to fit in the allotted spot. But that's just one of the things I love about being me: I never seem to tire of proving to myself, over and over again, that I'm not nearly as smart as I think I am. :wink:

By way of introduction, I suppose I can clarify that I am not, in fact, a man, and the man referred to is figurative, and not literal. Restaurant work is my career of choice, and over the years, I've come to know my way around a kitchen and every other position that can possibly be worked in a dining establishment, so I'd like to think that I know a few things about adding value to food and beverage, and making every bit of the guest's experience worthy of a relatively high price tag. Currently, I work in two restaurants, both of which put a great deal of effort into packaging an experience that will make the guest feel that he or she not only was fed, and fed well, but that everything about that meal from beginning to end was part of a seamless performance. Restaurants as theatre, food as entertainment.

And then I have this other little job: That of running my small business, wherein I step off the stage and teach people how to make that restaurant magic happen in their own homes. I'll be preparing for a FoodTutor event this week, and showing some of the shopping and prep necessary for planning the menu, as well as documenting the things that I actually manage to eat. As a restaurant worker, I must admit to having an irregular eating schedule, similar to some of the previous industry bloggers, but I'll be making an effort to have slightly more normal meals this week. You know, the kind that civilized people have, where they put food on actual plates and sit down to eat it, as opposed to just shoving things into one's mouth while standing at the refrigerator.

So I'll start with this meal:

sweetbreads.jpg

Sweetbreads and eggs. The sweetbreads were braised late last week while we were toying around with ideas for a tasting menu, so I simply had to dredge them and fry them up to go with a nice soft scramble, and the biscuit is actually just reheated from a small batch I made a few days ago. Ideally, I'd have gotten up hours ago and made a fresh batch of warm, fluffy biscuits like Varmint's, but heck, I worked a double shift yesterday for the July 4th holiday, so this will have to do. Besides, the biscuits were really more of a vehicle for shovelling strawberry jam (also made by me a few days ago) into myself, and these worked nicely.

Throughout this blog, I'd like to answer questions about any aspect of restaurant work that piques anyone's curiosity, and I'll be including some pictures from both of the places where I work, hopefully. I can't share certain specific restaurant recipes in some cases, though some will be very easy to duplicate, but I would like to go into exactly as much detail as everyone would like to see. Really. Ask me anything, and I promise I won't bite.

Questions like:

Why do you work in two restaurants? Isn't that inconvenient?

What are sweetbreads? (No doubt another eGulleteer could answer that faster than I could.)

Who is Farrow Beacham? (More on him later.)

What, exactly, do you teach TheFood to do? :hmmm:

Now it's probably time for a little nap. That double shift really whooped me, and I've got a big week ahead of me.

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...I'll be making an effort to have slightly more normal meals this week. You know, the kind that civilized people have...Sweetbreads and eggs.

Absolutely. The breakfast of civilized people everywhere. :wink:

Really looking forward to this blog.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Looking forward to the blog. May I ask you where you live?


Life is short, eat dessert first

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As a fellow Atlantan, and knowing The Food Tutor for some time, I anticipate a truly outstanding blog, both information-wise and pictorally! She is an exceptionally talented woman and a repository of great knowledge of both the food and restaurant businesses, which are, of course, hardly mutually exclusive ...

Very pleased to share this occasion with you, Julia, and excited that eGullet is now the recipient of this unique experience! :biggrin:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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What do you think of professionals talking about the negatives in the business? Is it educational, thought prevoking or just whineing?

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What do you think of professionals talking about the negatives in the business? Is it educational, thought prevoking or just whineing?

Industry insiders whining about the toils and troubles of serving the public? Why, I've never heard of such a thing! :biggrin:

Actually, on my end, I've done quite a bit toward elevating this sort of whining to an art form, and I find that a little humor can make some of that negative talk a lot more entertaining than just a constant stream of, "My feet hurt. It's hot in here. Damn, this job sucks." I will probably share a few restaurant anecdotes in the course of this week, but only in a lighthearted sense, as all the work I've got planned for the week should be the sort of work that's great fun.

Some of the best stories to relate are when people simply do inexplicable things in restaurants, and I get to see my fair share of that. On Sunday, for instance, we had lots of children in the restaurant for the holiday weekend, and lots of them were clearly having a hard time behaving in any sort of restrained manner at all, because it is a big festival weekend with lots of fun activities, and once you wind children up, they tend to just keep going and going and going. . . So there was one table whose children were so loud that the specific noise from that table made it difficult for me to tell the specials at my table. The kids were using their silver as drumsticks and pounding out a little tune, which they complemented with all sorts of verbal noisemaking. The parents at my table, whose children were much quieter, simply smiled and made a quiet comment about the "music."

But another table didn't take it quite so well. The gentleman had apparantly had absolutely all of that music that he was going to take, so he got up and walked over to the noisemakers, looked straight at the parents and yelled, "Take 'em to f***ing McDonalds!" And then he walked out, without finishing his meal or paying his tab. Now some people might find that sort of story shocking, or it might anger them, or maybe they'd even feel bad for the children, that they'd been introduced to that word all of a sudden by a stranger. But I just really thought it was hilarious, and it kind of lightened the mood a bit, because at that point, everyone could agree that what he did was inappropriate, but now that he had brought up the point about the noisemaking, well. . . This kind of people watching really keeps my job interesting. Interesting in the sense of the confucian mixed curse/blessing, "May you have an interesting life."

So, back to my plans for the week. My main focus will be this "tasting menu" that my SO and I are putting together for a class/event we're doing Friday. The topic for the class will be centered around making the sort of fancy-schmancy stuff that one gets in a really high end restaurant, but doing every bit of it at home. This is one of my favorite things to do, and SO (lambfries on eGullet - I'm hoping he'll contribute a bit here and there, but he's a little shy when it comes to posting) did a tasting menu for me on my birthday last year. Here's a picture of one of the dishes he served to me that night:

foie_gras2.jpg

Foie gras with warm Georgia peaches and toasted brioche. Of course, not all of the courses we'll be preparing will be filled with rich, organ meats, but I do find it's best to eat courses like this as often as you can get them. Life goes better with foie. :smile:

Oh, and I'll be eating exactly one high end, fancy-schmancy restaurant meal this week as well. It will be my birthday dinner for this year, since my birthday actually falls on a day that I'll most likely be working. I'm hoping to get lots of good pictures of food, as well as some nice prep pictures, and fill you all in on the background of the restaurants where I work, the philosophy behind the cooking, and some more things about TheFoodTutor.

First, though, I have some shopping for ingredients I need to do.

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I look forward to learning from you this week, and maybe I'll even have a food-related question to ask! In the meantime, I'd like to know more about Sid.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I look forward to learning from you this week, and maybe I'll even have a food-related question to ask!  In the meantime, I'd like to know more about Sid.

Sid is evil. Believe me, you don't want to know about Sid. :biggrin:

Oh, yes, in spite of the complete lack of a sentence reading, "Please do put pictures of any critters running around your home into your blog," in the eGullet Foodblog guidelines, I believe a couple of gratuitous pet pictures may be imminent. The trick will be making sure there's food somewhere in the shot, too. Given that all 3 of them will actually sit on my dining room table and watch me eat, if I let them, that shouldn't be too hard.

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This looks like it will be an amazing blog. Thanks in advance for sharing a slice of your life with us!

It sounds like you work FOH, at least in one of your jobs. Is that correct? What positions do you hold in your restaurant jobs?

Also looks like you have considerable cooking ablility, are you self taught or formally trained?

How did the Food Tutor gig start? I'm really looking forward to learning about how you do this one, the preparation and execution of a particualar job.

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I'm looking forward to this blog! I'm especially eager to learn more about your business - how do you decide what to teach? How are the classes run - in someone's home or do you have a kitchen classroom type of thing where you hold them? This sounds like the perfect kind of thing for someone like me... How do you manage to fit in time to work in two restaurants and still run your own business?

Oh yeah, one final question - how did the parents of the noisemakers react to the disgruntled gentleman's outburst? I'm always surprised when parents allow their children to act this way outside of fast food places. I am the mother of a 3 year old and would have taken him outside if he'd acted like that... but perhaps that's just me.

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It sounds like you work FOH, at least in one of your jobs.  Is that correct?  What positions do you hold in your restaurant jobs?

Yes, that's correct. I am a server, and I sometimes work as a host, a bartender, and in another job code referred to as "Team Captain" or sometimes "Shift Leader." And sometimes I'm referred to as a Sommelier, though I really can't claim the amount of training needed to earn such a title. I just try to be as informed as I possibly can be about the wines carried on the respective lists of the places where I work, and I pay attention to all the guidelines of wine service. As a shift leader, I sometimes expedite in the window, which is what I did for the second half of my double shift yesterday. Not to go into expediting too deeply, this means finishing any dishes that need to be garnished or sauced, checking to make sure that the food actually matches what is printed on the ticket, gathering hot food and cold and putting the dishes in the proper order (so they can be set down in the correct positions at the table without asking people what they ordered), checking the quality of the food and plate presentation, and finally gathering runners to take the food to tables. OK, so maybe that was a little exhaustive in describing the process of expediting. The expediter is the bridge between the front and back of the house, which brings us to the next question:

Also looks like you have considerable cooking ablility, are you self taught or formally trained?

Self taught, with no formal education, outside of reading about a bajillion cookbooks. :biggrin: I threw myself into my first kitchen job years ago, at The Cheesecake Factory because, while it's not the greatest restaurant in the world, it is a great place to get experience doing loads and loads of prep, honing knife skills and dealing with fast service, high pressure and lots of volume. I worked through several kitchens and found that, in a short period of time, I was being pushed toward management positions, because I was very good at training others, and I speak a good deal of Spanish, so I was used as a translator often. Because money was tight for me at that time, and I was going through a divorce, I ended up in very stable management jobs working for large companies, and the sorts of restaurants that don't really serve haute cuisine. Management, of course, is very stressful, and after I'd been doing that for a couple of years, we had sort of a "family emergency" of sorts. Well, what happened was that my SO had a heart attack, and I decided that life was too short to go on working for Chili's (not that there's anything wrong with Chili's :wink: ). I decided to take things "easy" (ha!) and work as a server for a while, so I'd have a flexible schedule to be able to do other things, and SO decided to chuck his other career and become a line grunt. He has now worked his way up the ranks to become Chef de Tournant at Restaurant Eugene, which is one of the two restaurants where I work as well.

How did the Food Tutor gig start?  I'm really looking forward to learning about how you do this one, the preparation and execution of a particualar job.

This was really an accident. I was working at a fine dining place one day, as a server, chatting with some guests about the Pastry Chef there, and the guests asked me if that particular chef would be able to come over and teach them how to make this delicious mushroom risotto that they were eating at the time. Of course, I didn't mention the fact that our Pastry Chef wasn't the one making the risotto, but I simply said that I'd be able to teach them how to make the dish, since risotto is just a matter of learning a technique, and then I went with the idea from there. I put up the website, and started thinking about ways to market this service. It hasn't been really easy getting clients all the time, but the times that I do get lots of calls are tremendous and fun.

It should be wonderful to show the details of preparing for a class this week. :smile:

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I'm looking forward to this blog!  I'm especially eager to learn more about your business - how do you decide what to teach?  How are the classes run - in someone's home or do you have a kitchen classroom type of thing where you hold them?  This sounds like the perfect kind of thing for someone like me...  How do you manage to fit in time to work in two restaurants and still run your own business?

The topic for the class is always decided by the client, and if they don't already have something in mind, I quiz them about their favorite restaurant dishes, and things they've always wondered about how to make. Ever wanted to make osso buco? How about sushi making at home? Duck confit, or perhaps some homemade lemon curd? It's really pretty easy, and most people can think of at least one thing they've always wanted to learn to do.

I always go to the person's home, but my partner and I may be setting up some public demonstrations in conjunction with some local kitchenware stores soon.

The time part can be tough, sometimes, and I'm always being asked to work more. The only way I manage to fit it all in is to limit my number of scheduled shifts, and I can occasionally pick up extra shifts at either restaurant when needed, but on a week like this one, I simply learn how to say, "No."

The family that was confronted looked pretty shocked for a little while, but they really had their hands too full with the kids to dwell on it for very long. A manager did stop by their table to apologize, too, even though we really have no control over customers who confront each other that way.

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I'm looking forward to this blog!  I'm especially eager to learn more about your business - how do you decide what to teach?  How are the classes run - in someone's home or do you have a kitchen classroom type of thing where you hold them?  This sounds like the perfect kind of thing for someone like me...  How do you manage to fit in time to work in two restaurants and still run your own business?

The topic for the class is always decided by the client, and if they don't already have something in mind, I quiz them about their favorite restaurant dishes, and things they've always wondered about how to make. Ever wanted to make osso buco? How about sushi making at home? Duck confit, or perhaps some homemade lemon curd? It's really pretty easy, and most people can think of at least one thing they've always wanted to learn to do.

That is a terrific approach to teaching, as guaranteed to yield satisfied clients as anything could be guaranteed.

Do you ever get clients who just *can't* get what you're trying to show them because it's too far beyond their present capabilities? How do you handle that?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Oh, yes. Time for a snack. I need to go shopping, but first I had to look through the refrigerator to see what I have too much of, or not enough of. Turns out we've got extra, overripe mango. It's the result of one of our experiments for the tasting, this mango curry lobster salad:

lobstersalad_sm.jpg

So I decided to have a mango smoothie with tapioca pearls. First, the mango pulp:

blender.jpg

Notice how I'm not showing pix of cutting the mango, as I can make an egregious mess when cutting an overripe mango, so I'm sparing you the carnage. Next, the pearls.

pearlpackage.jpg

pearls.jpg

pearls2.jpg

Sorry about that blurry pic. After boiling the pearls, it's best to let them sit in some simple syrup to sweeten for a bit, but I was feeling pretty peckish, so I went ahead and had my smoothie, complete with a wide straw to suck the pearls up from the bottom.

bubbletea.jpg

That's a little blurry too, I'm afraid. I'll work on some of these photos a bit later and see if I can clear them up a bit. I've really got to go get groceries now, though, and then get ready to go to work.

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Do you ever get clients who just *can't* get what you're trying to show them because it's too far beyond their present capabilities?  How do you handle that?

Oddly enough, I haven't had that problem. The sushi class was the most difficult for the students to execute, as rolling sushi takes quite a bit of practice, but even if you make a sloppy roll, it still tastes pretty good, as long as the rice is properly cooked. We ate lots and lots of sloppy rolls that night.

There are a couple of other things that are challenging, though. Probably the biggest challenge I've seen was trying to get some clients to try things that they perceived as being a little more adventurous than their normal diets. I had one class, on Valentine's Day, where the client insisted up front that there be no raw fish, no organ meats, and generally no "weird" food. OK, so how about a little caviar, at least? "Oh, no, we're not fond of caviar." She didn't like truffles, either. That was kind of difficult to work around, since I wanted the food to be really romantic.

And I had one class where the clients had been dieting for some time, but they wanted to splurge on the foods they'd be eating that night, so they starved themselves the whole day in anticipation of my arrival. It was a little difficult when I had to explain to them that it actually takes a little time to prepare the food, so there wasn't anything to feed them right away. I did manage to throw together something that would hold them over as the first demonstration.

Oh, and because the events go on for a few hours, with lots of participation, the clients have a tendency to eat too much of the first dishes we prepare, and by the time we're done cooking everything, they're too stuffed for dessert! I'll have to work on that part.


Edited by TheFoodTutor (log)

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There is going to be a little break in the action coming up here, as I'll be going to work, grabbing a bite to eat before my shift, and working through the evening until quite late. But lambfries, the guy I mentioned earlier, will be returning from Buffalo shortly, and when he gets home, he'll certainly check the progress of this thread.

I'm wondering if, perhaps, he could be enticed into contributing something. Perhaps, if you asked him nicely, he might tell you what a tournant is. What do you think? Is there anything you'd like to know about living the life of a linehog, working in the kitchen day in and day out? You could ask him about his knives. He loves his knives.

Well, if he doesn't answer any questions you ask him, I'll just beat the answers out of him when I get home, I guess. :raz:

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Julia, I'm just awed at the hours you keep, working two jobs plus your business, and now you're generously taking more of your time to share your week with us!

Yes, I want to know what a Chef Tournant is and does and would have asked that.

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I don't have a clue what a tournant is. Since someone else has asked what it is, I'll ask "how do you pronounce it?" and "please use it in a sentence"! :biggrin:

I'll also ask of lambfries: which knives do you love best? Brand names are good, but types are better - for instance, do you use a Chinese cleaver? I'm a home cook with a pretty good (for a home cook) set of knives - 8" butcher knife included. Would spending money on a cleaver get me anything other than kitchen cool?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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he might tell you what a tournant is

Well, of course I want to know what that is. I also want to know about your business and both of you can answer that. How many "students" do you work with at a time? Do they know each other or do you just gather a collection of strangers who can meet on a particular evening? What do you charge? :unsure:


~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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There is some information about TheFoodTutor's teaching business here: clicky!.

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I don't have a clue what a tournant is.  Since someone else has asked what it is, I'll ask "how do you pronounce it?" and "please use it in a sentence"!  :biggrin:

I'll also ask of lambfries: which knives do you love best?  Brand names are good, but types are better - for instance, do you use a Chinese cleaver?  I'm a home cook with a pretty good (for a home cook) set of knives - 8" butcher knife included.  Would spending money on a cleaver get me anything other than kitchen cool?

A tournant (tour-nont) is the person in the kitchen who must know how to set up and work each station on the line including pastry. You're there to work on a station on that persons off day.

THE ARSENAL:

knives.jpg

I use my 10" Kershaw chefs knife most at work. My preference is for japanese knives. But for at home we have a nice set of german knives. All I really use at home is a 8" chefs knife, boning knife, and paring knife. As for the cleaver I use it at work for butchering rabbit and chicken. I've grown quite comfortable with it, and use it to completely break down rabbits into all their components hind legs, front legs, loins, and I even "french" the racks with it. It's heavy, keeps a nice edge, and I only paid $12 for it at the asian market. Oh yeah, and it looks cool! :biggrin:

Edit: spelling error


Edited by lambfries (log)

"Success is the sum of alot of small things done correctly."

-- Fernand Point

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Whew! I'm finally home from work. Glad to see that lambfries posted a pic of the knives, including the Kershaw that I like to borrow from him as often as I can get to it.

I was a bit delayed this evening, and talk about your strange work anecdotes: We weren't that busy this evening, but we had just enough tables arriving very late to ensure that I'd have to stay well past closing. I have to wait until all of my tables leave before I can finish up the last bit of the side duties for my shift, which include making sure my section is spotless, plus another sort of sidework, which is assigned according to a chart. Tonight, my sidework included "spec"-ing out the restrooms, both men's and women's, and I hit a bit of a snag at the last minute. I tried to change out the trash in the men's room, but as soon as I opened the door, I heard the toilet flush, so I made a quick U-turn out of there. I try pretty hard not to embarrass a guest, and I'd not have even gone into the men's room if it hadn't been pretty late already, and I assumed no one would be in there.

So I waited. And I waited. Another man walked into the restroom and came back out, but the stall was still occupied. I tried to duck my head in again, but there was just constant flushing, so I couldn't investigate, other than to confirm that there was, indeed, someone in there.

And then I waited a bit more, growing a bit anxious that perhaps someone was quite sick and might need medical attention. Finally, I grabbed a male co-worker and asked him to check out what was wrong. He went into the restroom, and didn't come back out for a long time. When he finally did emerge, he told me that he'd changed the trash for me, and that I was free to go home.

So what happened? Well, it seems that a man was taking some time to roll a special sort of cigarette, and he needed some privacy to do so, so he used the stall to do that, and he had a bit of trouble doing it, as he may not have been as focussed as his usual self. And that was the holdup. I actually found that to be extremely funny, even though I was tired and ready to go home.

So I have some pictures, but I'll wait until the morning to upload them, because I need a little sleep before I go back to work at 10. Thank you for being patient, and I promise that the pictures will get better and more interesting in the next few days, as we've got some really neat stuff planned.

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I believe this is the kershaw.

gallery_9620_1457_1260.jpg


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
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