Food Journey Firsts

21 10 2009

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There are countless milestones in my culinary life.  From my very first memory (“forcing” my father to give me his grown-up cup of lime sherbet punch because I was too big for the sippy-cup, and then feeling guilty about it—that’s telling, eh?), to the palatially-transformative brunch dish I experienced just five days ago.

I imagine many of them will wind up chronicled here over time.

On my mind today are two key moments that brought me here, compelled to share my ideas and experiences with the digital masses.

I cheated and used a frozen crust for this particular incarnation--sacrilege, I know.

I cheated and used a frozen crust for this particular incarnation---sacrilege, I know.

My First Original Recipe

I use the word “original” here with trepidation.  I have no delusions of having invented apple pie, or even this particular style of pie.  As in any art, there is always a certain amount of reference in recipe-writing.  Sometimes what results is only a slightly altered rendition, sometimes you get something entirely new and unfamiliar.

What sets this pie apart for me is that this was the first recipe I set out to write.  I had cooked, and had modified recipes my entire life, but had never intended to generate a product that could then be replicated by not only myself through memory, but by other people.  It took steps that are all too familiar now: research, testing, adjusting, testing, adjusting some more, publishing to a small, trusted circle, adjusting yet again, and finally, painfully, deciding that it was “ready.”

This process took me three years.

I certainly don’t use a cookie-cutter process when I write recipes now, but the haphazard way this pie came together still brings me nearly to tears with laughter.  It was an exercise in inefficiency, overspending, and the infinite patience of my family and friends.  I still have nightmares about burnt crumb topping, and get a slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when first biting into an apple—I think I tasted over 30 varieties raw and cooked in the search for the “perfect blend.”  It was dizzying, draining and maddening, but above all, completely addictive.

Smoked gouda and barley-filled crepe with tomato confit and crisped leeks.

Smoked gouda and barley-filled crepe with baby veg, tomato confit and crisped leeks.

Unlimited Possibility

On vacation in Alberta this summer, I had the privilege of eating at Bison.  I have had many a lovely meal, but none that has opened so many corridors of thought, or has so inspired me to do something about my love of food.

Sitting on the patio as a brisk wind blew in an approaching rainstorm, we were presented with a basket of bread—not atypical of any restaurant experience.  The server informed us it was a special recipe, made just for the restaurant, that had been baked that morning at the Wild Flour Bakery, which—she pointed—was just across the courtyard.

Brilliant!  Local ingredients and vendors, culinary tourism, the significance of sharing a meal…

Watermelon radish.

Watermelon radish.

When my entree arrived, I was speechless.  This is not a problem I often face.  The picture I snapped does not even begin to convey the delicate, intricate presentation of each tiny vegetable and drop of tomato-y oil.  The components of the dish were fairly unusual to me as well.  There were cooked radishes on my plate—cooked watermelon radishes—and they were as delicious as beautiful.

…unique ingredients, atypical uses, plating as art, photography, experiencing food with all five senses…

Upon arriving home for the evening, I immediately went online and entered my best guesses to calculate nutritional information for the meal.  Do not think for a moment that I am on, or would ever advocate, a “diet.”  I’ve just been on a get-healthy kick and find that keeping track of calories in/calories out makes a world of difference in controlling my results.  It was not as bad as I had expected!  Plus, I plan to splurge when going out to a new restaurant, so I had limited my calories earlier in the day.  I also chatted briefly with a friend about my experience.  To my surprise, she was thoroughly interested in what I was saying, excitement over inter-connectivity and all.  Could it be possible?  Did I have a point of view some people might actually care to hear?

…nutrition, indulgence, communication, the Internet.

All of these italics swam in my head.  Others joined in.  It took me a few months to make the leap to this forum, and it will take many more to discover my true purpose and voice.

It is so exciting, and daunting, to realize how many aspects of food there are to experience and discuss.  At present, my idea lists are growing far faster than I can realize them.  So let me know what you think, what you like, what you’d like less of, etc., and hopefully this can become something more than just the ramblings of yet another food blogger.

And if not, at least I’ll have a lot of fun trying!

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