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Becoming a Foodie


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When I turned five, my folks took me to Barnhill's ice cream parlor in the Akron, OH area for my birthday party. Just me and a couple of buddies. I remember it as if it were yesterday, although doing the math it was 37 years ago. The ice cream was pretty standard issue stuff, but it was my official introduction to the grilled peanut butter and bacon sandwich. What a combo. Soon thereafter, Skippy introduced a short-lived product called Peanut Butter with Smoky Bits. I ate it directly from the jar. But alas, after two years Skippy gave the product up, probably because it didn't appeal to the unrefined palates of most other five year olds. To this day, one of my biggest guilty pleasures is a spoonful of Peter Pan coated with Bacos (when I'm too lazy to crisp up some of the real stuff).

Clearly, I didn't know what a Foodie was back then. But in hindsight, this was my indoctrination into the world of good eating. How about you? When did you first know you were a Foodie? And what was the memorable food item that pushed you over the edge?

Edited by lamb abbey orchards (log)

John A Gasbarre

Lamb Abbey Orchards

Union, Maine 04862

http://lambabbey.com

lambabbey@gmail.com

44° 15' 47" N / 69° 18' 42" W

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When I was a kid I was fascinated by food. My favorite TV shows were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Frugal Gourmet. I was probably also the only boy in my neighborhood with an Easy Bake Oven.

I always loved cutting food coupons out of the newspaper, going grocery shopping, helping my mom cook, basically anything that had to do with food. I was pretty overweight as a kid, so I'm not sure if the fact that I became obsessed with food was because I ate a lot of it, or if I became overweight because I was obsessed with food. Either way, I've since lost the weight, but kept the passion.

One of my best childhood memories was getting a hot dog from Zingerman's deli in Ann Arbor after swimming lessons. I hated the swimming lessons, but I kept going for the post-swim hot dog. I can still taste those hot dogs, and even then I knew they were a cut above the stuff from the grocery store. I moved to Seattle from Michigan when I was about eight, and when I went back to visit a while ago, getting a hot dog from Zingerman's was high up on my list.

Edited by jkonick (log)
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My first indications were when I was experimenting with baloney melts (a slice of cheap baloney and American cheese nuked in the microwave until the meat was "crispy"), scrambled eggs, and unique matches with peanut butter on a piece of bread, although, bacon never occured to me! At the age of 12, I sincereley asked for a Ronco food dehydrator, and could recite the whole infomercial from the begining. My parents knew they were in trouble...

Tonyy13

Owner, Big Wheel Provisions

tony_adams@mac.com

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From the age of 15+ until I graduated from high school, I had a paper route (Ft Worth Star Telegram - morning, evening and Sunday :raz:). When I'd get home about 5:30am from the daily route, I'd cook myself some bacon, toast with strawberry jelly, and two eggs fried in bacon grease. Damn, I still remember those breakfasts as some of the best ever. My intoduction to cooking, and the beginning of my career as a food lover and critic I suspect.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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When I was a kid, I used to go into the closet and take my mother's cookbooks out and pore over them, dreaming of making every single recipe. My mom's a great cook, but I was fascinated by the pictures and the possibilities. As soon as I was able, I made the Lemon Mousse from Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts and I haven't stopped yet.

My husband knew I was a foodie when he brought recipes from a Thai cooking class that I'd given him for his birthday - he said that one of the dishes (I can't remember what the name is, but it's ground fish sauteed like a fish cake) was really good but he missed it and didn't know how to make it. So I did it, it came out looking and tasting like it was supposed to and he was stunned that I was able to replicate it without knowing what it looked like or was supposed to taste like before doing it. The bad part is that he decided he wouldn't attempt anything in the kitchen except take out!! :raz:

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The prologue was when I entered the 4-H cherry pie baking contest at age 11. It was the third pie I'd ever made (but I'd watched Mom make a lot of them) and I received one of the few blue ribbons.

The telling moment was when Mom took out a subscription to the Time-Life Foods of the World series, and I read them cover to cover. We couldn't get many of the ingredients required for the recipes, so there were many I couldn't try.

The official entry was when my college boyfriend claimed he could cook better than I. He had, after all, taken cooking lessons in France. I began to read every cookbook and cooking magazine I could get my hands on. . .and the rest is history.

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I was pretty young. My earliest memory (about age 3) is riding my tricycle around the huge round kitchen table and having my grandpa stick a piece of biscuit with sorghum molasses mashed with butter into my mouth every time I went past him, occasionally alternating it with a piece of ham, bacon or sausage.

I have been told I began talking at 9 months (haven't shut up yet) and my first word was biscuit and my second word was ham!

I remember standing on a stool next to the big rectangular kitchen work table and the cook showing me how to pat out biscuit dough and cut the rounds out. (Have you guessed this was in the south?)

I also remember sitting on the back porch next to one of the girls who worked in the kitchen, with a dishpan full of peas and shelling them into a big bowl.

I was the only girl in a herd of boys and while I got plenty of play time, some times the boys could do things I wasn't allowed to do and I was easily bored, unless I had something to read.

The philosophy at that time was "idle hands are the Devil's playthings" so I was kept busy doing things and I was always begging to be allowed to help in the kitchen. Fortunately my grandpa's cook and the rest of the kitchen help made a pet of me and let me hang out and do things. It probably made a lot more work for them but it was a lot of fun for me.

It also gave me a life-long appreciation of what goes into preparing a meal.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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One of my earliest memories about food is standing on a chair at the stove with Dad teaching me to scramble an egg.

Growing up in South Louisiana how could I not like food?? :biggrin:

Dwight

If at first you succeed, try not to act surprised.

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My mom said, my first word after "mama" and "dada" was "drambouie". True story. Apparently, I was teethed on it. That doesn't make me a foodie, though, that makes me an appreciater of fine booze, and that hasn't changed one iota, since I was 12 months old.

My mother also fondly relates a story from when I was about 2. She woke up early one morning, to noises in the kitchen, to find me, sitting on the lineoloum in a small heap of flour, with a bowl nearby, some sugar scattered in it, 2 broken eggs inside the bowl, and one outside. She said everything in the whole kitchen from the countertops down, was pure white, dusted with flour. The night before, she laid out the dry ingredients and cooking implements for a cake she wanted to bake that morning. Apparently, I got a head start.

So, I would say it was somewhere around then, when I took my first baby steps into foodieness.

As I got older, I would sit and eat my crappy prepared dinners, and pore over my mom's cookbooks (that she never used EVER) and dream about the wonderful stuff in them. She had one really fancy red one, from Europe, she got as a wedding present, had like 400 recipes in it, and 400 color pictures. That one was my FAVORITE. I would look longingly at the pictures and study the ingredients. I was maybe 8-9 years old. Then, looking and salivating turned into cooking. I started trying things, simple things, like instead of making normal basic rice-a-roni, I would throw in some cheese, or something. Basic, but, baby steps.

My favorite shows, growing up, were The Frugal Gourmet (I love that guy, I don't care what he was accused of) Julia Child, Justin Wilson, and Yan Can Cook. I watched a lot LOT of public TV.

By the time I was 11, I was cooking full-fledged dinners, for my mom and I. I was actively using her long forgotten cookbooks, and feeding myself very well, with the stuff she brought home from the grocery store. A huge triumph for me, looking back, was making the leap from studying all these wonderful European recipes, to actually cooking them. I made lots of stuff from that book, like linzertorte, lemon souffle, some wacky appetizers. I would often cook, out of boredom on weekends. She would invite guys home, for dinner, and have me cook for the two of them.

When I was 12, I made a huge dinner, including a soup course, from scratch, raspberry chicken breasts (marinated in raspberry vinagrette, with fresh berries as garnish, we had an enormous raspberry bush in the garden) steamed broccoli with buttered breadcrumbs, and burnt almonds, and I think, boiled new potatoes, with parsely. I also made dessert, too. Something with layered chocolate pudding, and more raspberries, and cool whip. I made that meal for her and my now step-dad. He said, the merit of that meal was one of the reasons he married my mother. I took over ALL the cooking, soon after, including holiday meals.

I started cooking for my friends, too, simple stuff, that could be scooped into bowls, like chicken stew, and pasta saute dishes. I got to be famous as "the cook" among my peers. In school, we would turn class meetings, into potlucks. I got lucky, for a few years, my 9th -11th grade classes were very small, and very food-oriented. We would meet once a week, for a fancy dinner somewhere on the town, or plan huge picnics, on school time. There were about 15 of us, and we were pretty close. Private school has its benefits.

I moved in with my dad, and more the same, all through my teens, I would get home before my folks, and cook dinner. When they got home from work, I'd eaten, and there would be warmed plates, or a pot of something bubbling happily on the stove. I learned a lot, there, too. My stepmom came from Georgia, so I inherited a ton of great southern cooking, from her. My dad, ever the eclectic, got me into cooking Indian, pan-Asian stuff, and native foods (they lived on Guam). We would go out for Indian, and he would say "This curry is damn good, I bet you could make it at home" and, he would find the stuff for it, and I just would.

It all just sort of snowballed. When I was 17, I got a job, working for a caterer/Italian deli, within a year, and a massive employee turnover, I found myself, at 18, as the manager of the deli, and in charge of scheduling catering events, etc. I didn't do all the cooking, but I planned the menus and specials, did the deli stuff, prep work, and short order. The owner did most of the real cooking, himself.

In short. I just am. I have been from birth, I think. Food has always interested me, as long as I can remember, and I have been cooking for as long as I've been able, and realized I could change the outcome of my meals.

Edited by Lilija (log)
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My mother would often prep the Sunday Roast on Saturday night, so that while we were in church the next morning, my father the agnositc who stayed home could pop it in the oven. All through Saturday evening, I would continually open the fridge to check and make sure it was "ok". My parents would yell at me to stop looking at it, but it was all I could think about until Sunday afternoon when we finally ate it. It got so bad that I would get out of bed, just to make sure it was still there. I feel obligated to add that I was a well provided for child who never expereinced hunger, so I don't think the obsession was based in fear, but rather anticipation.

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My mother would often prep the Sunday Roast on Saturday night, so that while we were in church the next morning, my father the agnositc who stayed home could pop it in the oven.  All through Saturday evening, I would continually open the fridge to check and make sure it was "ok".  My parents would yell at me to stop looking at it, but it was all I could think about until Sunday afternoon when we finally ate it.  It got so bad that I would get out of bed, just to make sure it was still there.  I feel obligated to add that I was a well provided for child who never expereinced hunger, so I don't think the obsession was based in fear, but rather anticipation.

Kim:

That's so damn cute. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.

John

John A Gasbarre

Lamb Abbey Orchards

Union, Maine 04862

http://lambabbey.com

lambabbey@gmail.com

44° 15' 47" N / 69° 18' 42" W

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Just growing up with great food in the house. My dad loves to cook and would cook wonderful things from Gourmet magazine or things that he saw on The Frugal Gourmet. My grandmother lived with us and cook the most fantastic chinese food. Family friends of our were foodies too and my parents and the Halls would invited each other over and try to out do one another. It was a wonderful childhood.

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My mum made me nothing but garlic with mashed potatoes to eat as a toddler...

Dad then was spending all day making home made pasta, kroppkakor, and making stir fried chinese food and fried herring for me and my brother when we where kids..

But my final conversion to "foodism" was when I, aged 11, sampled my first raw oyster on a quay in Cancale , Bretagne, France. Just with a wedge of lemon. It was bliss!

Edited by Hector (log)
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I just had a little phone chat with my aunt who reminded me that, indeed yes, as a child I was given chores in the kitchen fairly often, obstensibly to keep me entertained, however, she also said that I had to be either peeled off my pony or forcibly separated from my grandpa so the poor man (her words) could conduct necessary business.

(My grandpa and I had our own mutual admiraton society, apparently, according to my dad, my aunts and my older cousins, that began shortly after my birth. In fact, my dad has often said that on the day I was born, he was pretty much relagated to a corner while my grandfather was the recipient of congratulations from the gathering of family and friends. I was the first girl born into the family in a generation and the only one for nearly 10 more years, so much was made of it.)

My nickname for a time was "Little Burrdock" because I was always stuck to grandpa.

Growing up in a large family with many well-traveled members who brought back recipes and food stories from far away, I learned to appreciate all kinds of foods that were unknown in that area. We also had lots of visitors who also brought new ideas about different foods. It also helped that my great-grandmother was a "collector" of receipts with a great interest in foods.

I met my first avocado when I was about eight and immediately fell in love. One of the relatives, who lived in Florida, brought some "Alligator pears" when he came to visit for the Christmas holidays. My grandpa's cook, a Gullah woman from the Carolina lowcountry, knew how to handle them and made a salad with chunks of avocado, tomato and sliced onions dressed with the same "dressing" she made for "wilted" lettuce, that is, just hot bacon drippings, sugar and a tiny bit of flour cooked in the drippings then adding a measure of vinegar and water. Delicious!

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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on a family vacation when i was 10, i was constantly fighting with my brother and sister because they wanted McDonald's and i wanted to try every 'real' italian dish i could find.

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Although I am not sure I am a real "foodie" yet (reading and posting here is a step in the right direction anyway), my moment was when I first ate some Cabot cheddar. Ok, hear me out: It tasted so much better than the Kraft stuff, that it acted as a kind of epiphany - food was more than just nourishment - it could be really enjoying! And not only that, but sometimes food was crafted to actually be really enjoyable! From that moment I really began to appreciate the taste of what I ate, leading up to wanting to cook tasty things.

This is all somewhat odd, as my family grew lots of our own vegetables, had our own eggs for a time, and raised a few cows for beef. My mom is an amazing cook, and I didn't really appreciate it all until now, after I am long out on my own. At the least, I now recognize the difference fresh ingredients make, and plan to grow as much of my own stuff as I can, once I have a place to actually do it!

(I was so into Cabot in college, a friend and I went up to the Cabot creamery for a tour, and to this day I use my Cabot apron in the kitchen.)

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I think it's in the genes. My mom was never much of a cook but she was really interested in food. There were some things that made it hard for her--having six children, for one, and having a job outside the home, which most of the other moms at the time didn't. And it was the sixties, when fast food and convenience food were really becoming popular. But she was also working on a cookbook with her sister; it's too bad that it never got published. Her sister died and by the time I had a look at the book it was just too outdated. We grew up testing all kinds of interesting things for inclusion in the cookbook, like seaweed soup, stinging nettles, and foreign foods that weren't well-known at the time, not in Seattle, anyway. For a time, one night a week we took turns planning a meal, then would make a family trip to whatever stores we needed to find the ingredients.

I also loved to read Mom's Joy of Cooking. I loved the stories in it, like the one about cooking potatoes in pine resin, which I still remember. I wanted to try that for years! We were all avid readers, and cookbooks were a major source of entertainment. When I recently found an old cookie cookbook, I remembered all the hours I'd spent looking at all the color plates and wanting to make every kind of cookie. I'm still in love with cookbooks--I'm gathering a lot of them in preparation to start selling them on my website, but for now I love to look through them.

All of my kids (now grown) learned how to cook at home. It was hard to do Thanksgiving without them. When my oldest daughter was very young, one of her first words was "ham." She came in one day when I was taking a nap, carrying a ten-pound ham and the carving knife, so I could fix her a snack. The second daughter is about to enter culinary school. The third is a vegetarian and makes all kinds of really good food, and grows a garden. The fourth (yes, I have a lot of girls) used to make all of the pies and rolls before she left home. My son will try anything, and cooks things that only he will eat. But he likes them.

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I dont know if it began at a single point but there were a couple of steps. The first was cooking with my grandmother, both corny and stereotypical but my mom couldnt cook anything except maybe tombstone pizza. And my Grandma still is a fantastic cook with anything, and I think she was a true product of the Julia Child era. The second I think was the first nice restaurant we went to, outside of my grandma's cooking, I dont know if I had ever really good food. But really the thing that changed it was when I started to bake, I have no idea why I did this. But it just happened I was probably 10 or 11 and I never looked back. Perhaps it was learning to make margaritas, my stepdad taught me how to make them, and never one to settle, at least with fleeting interest, I researched them. Pulled like 10 or 20 recipes from various sources and just started to mix and see what people liked the best, came up with a bunch of recipes, depending on the wanted flavor. After that I have been hopeless, always making the desserts for family events; it just sprouted there into growing herbs and cooking. I still can make almost any type of margarita by heart, though.

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I was 8 years old and at Science Camp on the California Coast. Breakfast of industrial scrambled eggs were the dreary start of every day. I then discovered both the power of salt and the power I had to control the flavor of what I eat. Each bite became an experiment. That was a watershed moment, as from that day forward, I have been the Captain of the SS Gourmand.

Taco Truck or Per Se - No matter as long as passion drives the food

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