30 Years and 30 Food Memories
With tomorrow marking my 30th year in this world, I thought a little reminiscing is in order. And in honor of myself and this blog, what better way to reminisce than through food and cooking. Here are 30 food memories off the top of my head at 11:30pm, 2 glasses of wine deep, the night before the 30th celebration of my life.
1. Learning how to cook red beans and rice from my Grandmother on my dad's side, "MeeMaw", on a little step stool in my grandparents cozy kitchen on Rue Renee. I remember that I even wrote something about this at school for Grandparent's Day. "I like to cook red beans and rice with my Mee Maw."
2. Waking up super early before my family to make my mom a birthday breakfast of my invented dish, fried biscuits. I was probably no more than 8 or 9 years old melting butter in a pan and frying store-bought biscuits. Once they turned golden brown, they were ready. I piled confectioner's sugar on top to finish this fine breakfast. It really was a yummy dish kind of like a spin on beignets. Appropriate for a New Orleans girl.
3. My grandfather on my dad's side, Paw Paw, taught me how to stuff an artichoke and cook it in the pressure cooker. This skill I couldn't be more thankful for because these cheesy stuffed Italian artichokes are to die for.
4. Dinner at Antoine's in New Orleans for Christmas Eve-nothing better. A detailed story about Antoine's Christmas Eve to come closer to Christmas.
5. Watching my Grandfather on my mom's side, "Bucko" cook his famous "Bucko Burgers" out on the grill during hot summers in New Orleans, waving his arm through the open flames to impress all of his grandchildren. Bucko's smoked turkey-he loved to "put it on the smoker". And finally, on one of his last days on this earth, I remember he felt good enough to have a beer. He drank a Heineken and put a sprinkle of salt on the opening of the can. The nurse said the beer would be good for him-lots of good carbs. He loved it!
6. The first meal my husband ever cooked for me. On Valentine's night, he brought all of his ingredients over to my apartment to make this special dinner. He prepared a fabulous meal of BBQ chicken fajitas, corn and salad. It was so sweet!
7. Going to PJs Coffee & Tea Co. for an iced mocha and hanging out with friends practically every morning before high school.
8. Dining at Made In China in China, while working at the Beijing Olympics, eating the "Beijing" or "Peking" Duck. Unbelievably cooked duck, carved at the table, the crispy skins of the duck were served with sugar to dip it in (sounds odd but it was divine). The roasted duck was served with little tortillas-I'm sure they were called something else but they looked like tortillas-so delicious!
9. Port of Call burgers and Monsoons with my college girls in New Orleans. Big, fat, juicy Port of Call burgers piled high with cheese and mushrooms was just part of the fun we had while dining at Port of Call. The real fun began while waiting an hour and a half for a table drinking Monsoons, a monstrous, sugary, hurricane-like beverage spiked with potent alcohol-yum!
10. Crepes and Champagne in Paris with my best friend in the world. We had just arrived in Paris for our weekend trip from London, where we were studying abroad. We didn't know what to do first, so we ordered a bottle of champagne and cheese crepes at a little cafe-the perfect beginning in France!
11. The night I saved my Mom's amazing meatloaf-she knows what this means.
12. The holiday meal when my 7 year old self announced, "I'm scared of the cranberry!" A quote that has stuck with my family to this day. In fact, I was sent a video message of my cousin and my sister quoting this to me in front of a plate of cranberry from Thanksgiving this year.
13. Log cakes at English Turn for my birthday. Our neighborhood country club always had this special Christmas Brunch/Lunch with Santa, decorations and all the weekend before Christmas which is always my birthday. Each table had a beautiful cake in the center that looked like a log decorated with red, green and white on top of the chocolate icing-so yummy!
14. Easter Dinner at Commander's Palace with my family, indulging in a beautiful Strawberry Shortcake dessert when I bit into something strange in a strawberry- A WORM! The meal was wonderful and I got over the worm incident quickly. The waitor immediately brought me another dessert and apologized however it wasn't the restaurant's fault. There was no way of knowing that something could be inside of a strawberry. It certainly showed me just how fresh those strawberries were.
15. Dining with my husband (just boyfriend then) at Mystic Pizza on Magazine Street in New Orleans.
16. Eating obscene amounts of sushi with my sister, Emily, when she came to visit me here in Philadelphia. The plate was so large that the couple next to us commented and with that we took on the challenge.
17. My rehearsal dinner at Mother's Restaurant, a spread of po-boys of every kind, fried seafood, jambalaya, turtle soup and dessert-just the thing every bride wants to indulge in the night before her wedding. Thanks Pepcid AC!
18. Amada with Ashley and Genny in September-The chef's selection tasting menu, the best meal I have had in a long time!
19. Eating ice cream cones from McDonald's in my best friend's mom's cherry red Volkswagon beetle with the top down. Ice cream was dripping down the sides of her beautiful, shiny car on a hot summer day in New Orleans.
20. Rainbow Pizza in Torino, Italy with my friend Penny. While working at the Winter Olympics in Torino, we had many dinners at the neighborhood pizzeria partaking in this delicious white pizza topped with proscuitto, arugula, tomatoes and cheese.
21. Annual Saint Joseph's Dinners with my Sicilian family in New Orleans on Saint Joseph's Day. This is a Catholic Feast Day where a meat-free meal is served.
22. Every 4-course meal I enjoyed with my husband on our honeymoon at the Ladera Resort in Saint Lucia. AND being called to the head of the "class" during the head chef's cooking demonstration. I had to help the resort's award winning chef cook a spicy shrimp dish. I added too much garlic and spice to the pan and the chef was making fun of me in his island dialect but I didn't realize. My husband was laughing hysterically at me.
23. My mom's chili or red beans and rice on a chilly fall day. Coming home from school and dance team practice famished, I would walk into my house smelling this delicious hot meal my mom was preparing.
24. Cooking gumbo with my dad during the holidays. Growing up, we usually had a big "open house" holiday party for all of our family and friends on Christmas night and gumbo was always the main dish. My family would always stay super late talking and laughing. One year it was so cold that the bridge was closed due to ice, so a bunch of my cousins and family had to sleep over-that was fun!
25. Christmas Day dinner the when it snowed in New Orleans before it all happened. "Before it all happened" refers to before Katrina, before my dad got so sick, before my parents moved to Texas, when New Orleans was just as I had always known it. My little sister, mom, dad, Maizzie and Riley (our dogs) were frolicking outside in the beautiful snow around the pool and palm trees. A truly happy moment.
26. Melting cheese or marshmallows in a cup with my sister, Christina, as an after-school snack when we were kids. Weird!!
27. Going to McDonald's with my Paw Paw when I was very little for McDonald's Big Breakfast. Also, my Paw Paw called me on April Fool's Day when I was like 4 years old. He told me that there was a hot air balloon outside throwing out free McDonald's burgers-and I believed him! I was 4 give me a break.
28. Making Rice Krispies Treats in MeeMaw's (my mom's mom) kitchen. I suppose this is where my love for Rice Krispies Treats comes from.
29. Friday night Pizza night in Philadelphia with my husband. To this day, my husband and I have our pizza and movie date night every Friday night. We play a little something called "Pizza Mind Games", which is when you aren't up front about what kind of pizza you really want. You have to be us to understand this.
30. Sitting in a private room in my wedding gown with my tuxedo-clad new husband as we were served a sampling of every food item at our wedding. We were so excited we could hardly eat, but the memory of all of those little plates and Champagne in that dim-lit room in the Royal Orleans Hotel alone with my husband for the first time is priceless.
There are so many more memories that are not listed here. Like I said, these were the first to pop into my head. I look forward to making many more in the next 30!
To the next 30....Cheers!