How I made my bones

 
Okay, kiddies, this is the semi-obligatory "who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are" section. It really isn't a paean to narcissism. It is a road travelled, a filling of the holes, a core-dump of stuff you couldn't possibly give two hoops in hell about, but, I write it so you can see possibly what makes me tick. Or not. Personally, if I were a websurfer, I'd skip reading this crap and go for the goodies, but for completeness' sake, here it is, my digested life story up in lights:
I was born into a rural Indiana lifestyle, from a gastronomic POV, because my folks divorced when I was knee-high to a Ne-Hi, and I got shipped off to my Daddy's very Appalachian side of the family, as backwoods as you can get, and I revolted the entire way (though I've overcome my early disdain to c&w music by now). most of my meals were either hamburgers and green beans and mashed potatoes or more than likely a dish commonly called colored beans (pinto beans) stewed with a ham hock and served with raw white or yellow onion (hot not sweet), cornbread, fried potatoes, stewed dandelion greens and sliced beefsteak tomatoes. If we ever ate out, on rare occasion we'd do Frisch's, A&W, Nickle Nook or go "uptown" to the Cow Palace in Shelbyville or Miller's Drive-In in Rushville, where it was I discovered that most treasured of Hoosier "delicacies," the breaded tenderloin, nowadays served up as a beaten-flat fritter, but back in my halcyon days it was a thicker, more substantive hunk a hog. Along with a side a "waxy" batter-dipped onion rings and a frosty mug of root beer, this was heaven. Then I moved in with my slightly more cosmo Mother in Indy, where I got introduced to the likes of broccoli, Porterhouse, and long grain & wild rice. Dinner out would vary from a quick bite at Taco Tico, Jack n Jill's, Autoburger or Al Green's to the "fancy" Italian Gardens, Lotus Garden or somewhere in between like Lum's, Knobby's, The Huddle or the much mourned TeePee at the Fairgrounds.

After the typical uneventful pubescence and adolescence, I went to college at a very well-respected engineering school in Indiana, but, even upon leaving the crib was still relatively unexposed to much variety of interesting food. Our food service was Saga, and they were simply dreadful, but in my Senior year Saga hired a new manager who was hellbent in starting a wine & cheese tasting "club". I joined. It was the start of my search for more variety & intrigue in sustenance. Upon graduation I headed off to the big city of Chicago for my first taste of independence, culture and really fabulous food. I mostly, though had no mentor, so I plunged into the white European ethnicities of German, Polish, Greek, Italian, Irish and some French. After a failed coupla years in my inaugural job fresh from school, I had a fancy schmancy chemical engineering degree, but no engineering heart to go along with it. So, I set off out West to "find" myself. I made it no further than Oklahoma, alas, as I got work in the oilfields, but my dinner plate started getting spiced up by the more jazzy offerings of both Tex-Mex & the Southwest. I became a Scoville-schooled chilehead here, and am one to this day. I'm about late 20ish now, and just discovering the endorphine rush.

I ended up, for various reasons, in Southern California, where it was that I discovered my palate and the worlds of gourmet, fresh, pan-Pacific Rim, ethnic cuisines, you name it... This time I had a guide, my lady who had travelled the world over, eaten every imaginable type of food and who embraced her inner Escoffier. I learned Thai, sushi, Russian, Hungarian, Moroccan, kosher, the subtypes of Italian, French Vietnamese, Korean, Cajun/Creole, Filipino, Pacific Northwest, Indian, Peruvian, Cuban, Persian, the subtypes of Chinese, Oaxacan and Columbian while there. I got to feast at various houses of Puck, Fox, Citrin, Splichal, Waters, Sedlar, Richard, Selvaggio & Keller. So I basically had a crash 5-year course in haute cuisine as well as world cuisine. I still loved me meat & potatoes, but I had been expanded greatly. Well almost, I still stop short at sweetbreads, haggis and other peculiarities from about the globe, but I made strides. I knew I was doing well, when I voluntarily ordered the candied foie gras in citrus reduction on a bed of braised fennel at Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. I HATE liver, but I loved this dish. I basically had asked the waitron what the specialties of the house were, and I was hellbent on having the most intriguing of the lot. That was it.

So, in 1995 the fates, or the god Lord, or whatever saw to it that my brain should take a holiday, and I had an ischemic event in my right subcortical capsule. Translated...a stroke! At 39! It rendered the left half of my body somewhat non-functional (my left hand is still useless), but left my cognition & speech untouched. It also did a major number on our bank account as our insurance company welshed on its end of the deal. So we had to sell our home in Palm Desert and move from our pad in Marina del Rey back to cheaper digs. Made sense, since my peeps were in place, we had a built-on support network and a lower cost-of-living. And to a more challenged food atmosphere as well. The land of the sports bar, deep-fried everything and chain-o-rama. But, even in this relative black hole of great food, nuggets can be had. That is my charge...to blat the clarion call to the best of Naptown.

Kampai! Salud! L'chaim! Prost! Okole Maluna! Skol! Gan Bei! A' Votre Sante'! Salute! Mazel Tov! Nazdrovje! Slainte! Gesundheit! Cheers Y'all.

 

- fud

yawnnnn, get me outta here, return to the foyer

this page was last modified on October 18, 2006