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The Education of a Foodie

For the past few days, we've been preparing for a private, custom party for that will include fine wines and delicious food creations.  Some of my favorite items off of the six-course menu include ratatouille-stuffed tomatoes; salmon grilled on cedar planks and served with a Dijon crème sauce; and goat cheese and cranberry stuffed pork tenderloin. It's a foodie's dream...and for the two of us executing this culinary feast, it can be a foodie's nightmare. Only one store in town sells white asparagus. When we went yesterday to get it, they were sold out! A truck was scheduled to arrive this morning with a load of produce, but there was no guarantee that white asparagus would be on the truck. Only a foodie would add "please let the grocery store have white asparagus tomorrow" into her bedtime prayers. Luckily, my prayers were answered. The white asparagus has arrived, and Pascal is on his way to the store to select the best stalks.

We weren't so lucky with the brussel sprouts. We thought brussel sprouts pan-roasted with garlic and dill would be a great accompaniment to the stuffed pork tenderloin. Unfortunately, the produce vendors in the area didn't agree. We couldn't find fresh ones anywhere! So, we had to settle for haricots verts instead (that's thin French green beans for those of you who don't take your vegetables as seriously as we do).

So, here is the question: is one born a foodie or does one become a foodie? It's one of those causality dilemmas like "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" My answer? "I don't really care; I like both!" Seriously, I think that perhaps one is born loving food, but one develops into a foodie.

As a three-year-old, I spent countless hours playing in my toy kitchen. I had a mini-refrigerator, a tiny stove, and a wooden sink with no plumbing. As an eight-year-old, I coveted my cousin's Mini Bake Oven. In my teens, I moved into my mother's kitchen to bake cookies and cheesecakes and apple crumbles. Despite having grown up on such delicacies as canned mushrooms and tuna noodle casserole, I still loved food. Years later, I would rediscover a kitchen that reminded me of my first wooden toy kitchen. In my apartment in Paris I had a college-sized refrigerator, a hot plate, and a sink that looked like the ones you find in airplane lavatories.  But it was in that kitchen that I created some of my most memorable meals and began my education as a true foodie. I quickly learned that the magic of food is not dependent on the latest sub-zero freezer and fire brick oven; it's about the ingredients, the chemistry, and that "je ne sais quoi" a person who truly adores food adds to the taste of even the simplest of meals.

I lived in Paris, I loved in Paris, and I eventually married a Frenchman from the restaurant world - talk about a foodie's dream! For years, I worked for a cruise line and traveled to Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Israel, Mexico and lots of other countries where cuisine is king. I've eaten fish caught before my eyes in Mediterranean waters; I've sipped Madeira in Madeira; Ive savored Mejoul dates right off the palm trees in Israel; I've devoured warm croissants from the best bakeries in France. I became a foodie, but a food snob, I am not. I also love Chick-Fil-A sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise, cream cheese icing straight from the can, Doritos, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, and on rare occasions, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

I'll try anything once - including fried fish heads, a delicacy in Cyprus - and I like just about everything. The short list of things I just don't eat is pretty darn short:  oysters, octopus, pig's feet, and those fried fish heads. Being a true Francophile, I do like escargots, pate, duck, rabbit, frog's legs, caviar, and stinky cheeses. Our business may be hand-dipped chocolate bon bons, but we love all kinds of food. In upcoming weeks, I'll be bringing you a series of foodie blog entries. I'll share ideas, recipes, and philosophy on everything culinary, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, bon appetite!

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