Nov 24, 2015

Knife, Fork & Spoon

                 THANKS FROM MY HEART 

Everyday we eat. 

Some of us are more excited about eating than others. For me the gathering, the social and emotional component is a significant part of the enjoyment.  This gratitude post is for all the wonderful and loving family members and friends that created, cooked and shared memorable meals.  Thanks for all the wonderful memories ! Buen Provecho !

1_ My Mom’s French Toast, absolutely the best ever, the main ingredient LOVE.

2_ Not sure if Ana will remember this dinner on the coast of Spain in Malaga. We were on a tour of Spain and Morocco, I’d just graduated from high school, Ana was in college. The 21 day tour, a gift from Grandma Chichi. Our group had dinner at an open air, terraced restaurant by the sea. It was the firs time I had grilled octopus,  the meal was exciting and delicious. The red house wine perfect. The company of my dear sister Ana and our friends Natalie and Andy Felando, a memory I’ve held dearly for 38 years.

3_ Rich, moist, savory baked beans and perfectly constructed Rueben Sandwiches from my Dad and yes the main ingredient LOVE. 

4_ Wednesday Night Toby Fish Tacos. When I lived with Toby in Vista, CA, we had fish tacos every Wednesday night, his cole slaw the best ever !

5_ Tuesday nights at Liz deRoulet’s house in Oceanside for many years. What I loved most about dinner with Liz, the evening meal was always fun and a surprise. Sometimes a brand new recipe, sometimes an old tried and true. Liz was the first person that encouraged me to bring my own tupperware containers so I could take left overs home. 

6_ Ana and Parker make the best BBQ Ribs ever ! And the best homemade thin crust grilled pizzas. The best, the best.

7_ Fried Chicken, Cindy’s Mom, Mimi. The fried chicken is so good, I have photos.

8_ My brother Carlos is an amazing chef.  When I first moved to Atlanta in 1996/1997, I stayed with Carlos and Michele for a few months.  Carlos made the best cappuccino every morning and the most delicate cream of wheat.  My stay with him and Michele was during winter, my first experience with the cold.  Everyday the cream of wheat was different. Some days, a hint of lemon, other days a surprise golden raisins or the marshal of a sweet vanilla splash.

9_ Butterscotch Pies with homemade crust, from Grandma Minnie Rodewald in Rockwell City, Iowa. 

10_ The best Eggplant Parm ever from the fun and loving kitchen of Maggie Bellville. 

11_ My dear friend, Debbie Hornbeak, everything she makes is delicious and always served with flair. Her table settings are always festive.  In October of 1998, on my 40th birthday (when I lived in Vista, CA) she left a homemade Oreo Cheesecake on my door step in a pink bakery box.  Oh my, if you even remotely like cheese cake, this was incredible.

12_ The most delightful champagne toast on the terrace of Tia Laura de Alba’s home overlooking the Bay of Panama. Every Sunday, in the late afternoon, Tia Laura hosts a champagne gathering with family and dear friends. I’ve been fortunate to attend a few times during my visits to Panama.

13_ Fried plantains, Madam Ceci in Kissemah Village in Ghana, ripe to perfection, cooked to perfection.

14_ I don’t remember the year, I think it was when JoAnn turned 15 and we were all in Panama for her Quinceanera.  Roger and Maria Elena cooked a Sunday night family dinner at their house in La Cresta, homemade coconut rice, grilled lobster, octopus and a Panamian staple, patacones ! OH OH OH~ 

15_ My life long (since the 6th grade), dear friend, Pat Jimenez and her Mom and all her sisters, every year that I lived in Barstow I got my share of homemade tamales. Pat’s Mom’s recipe produced pillow like tamales with the perfect balance of exquisite corn masa and green pork, or chicken, or beef. I’ve never had a better tamale ever. 

16_ My Grandpa Rogelio, he always took us to The Boulevard in Panama for the best cuban sandwich and coffee shakes. And with Grandpa it was always a wonderful meal and an event. He was a loyal customer and going to the Boulevard back then was like going to see family. 

17_ Atlanta Book Club Appetizers, always fun. I was part of an awesome book club for a few years, every member of the club an awesome cook. We always had wonderful, interesting, sassy appetizers.  The club was about books and definitely about the appetizers.  My most favorite recipe, Allison Berry’s Chutney Cheese Dip.

18_All the meals I had a Tichi’s house in Panama, always great. I became a huge fan of Manchego Cheese while staying with her during my two years when I was not working, and completing the MFA writing program at Queens. My favorite meals, always the homemade vegetable soups served at lunch. So simple, so healthy, the concentration of the flavors and colors I thoroughly enjoyed.

19_ Donna Hanson’s garlic toast.  The right combination of an abundance of fresh garlic, sautéed with butter, olive oil, chopped parsley and a hint of fresh cracked pepper. And always sprinkles of fresh parmessan cheese right before the toast came out of the oven.

20_ My dear friend, Alfredo Elias Calles has a recipe for the perfect flan. I’ve had it once and certainly would enjoy having one day again.

21_Everything I ever ate at my Grandma Chichi's house at the Linda Vista finca in Panama was delicious. I have a treasure of memories associated with her cooking. Sunday family luncheons were nutrition of LOVE !  Her lomo and roast pork the best on the planet. 

22_ Two years ago I went to Panama to visit Roger and his family, Maria Elena, Juan Carlos, Jaime, JoAnn and Roger 4. We went on a day excursion to the San Blas Islands on the Atlantic side of Panama. We had to get up very early and drive for about 90 minutes to a small boat launch. We took a small motor boat to Isla Perro where we stayed for a few hours. When it came time for lunch we were taken by lancha (a smaller boat) to another smaller island, smaller than a football field, where a Kuna Indian family made lunch for our group. We were all in our bathing suits, filled with the salt of the air, hungry from our morning trip to San Blas and swimming. On this tiny island, it was our group and the Kuna indian family and a dog.

Under a blue plastic tarp strung between a few soldier palm trees, in the white sands of the San Blas Islands, the Kuna family served us fresh fried corvina over fluffy white rice with a side of veggies, peas, carrots and corn.

The setting was beautiful, peaceful, a tiny island surrounded by a perfectly crystal clear blue ocean. The wind was measured just right, the soundtrack of the waves, enchanting.  The sunny and bright blue skies a confirmation of the incredible invitation offered that day to all of us by Mother Nature.  That afternoon I readily accepted and loved every minute I was on that tiny island. The meal was memorable and perfect !

My most sincere and loving thanks to everyone in my life who has shared a meal. I’m sure I could document many more. What I shared today are the memories that readily came to mind when I sat down to write this post at 6:30 this morning.

I know that many people around the world, especially young children, go hungry everyday. I wish this wasn't so. Thanks to all the people in the world that care for other people and lend a helping hand. 

The memories I share today matter because of the connection, the sharing of life, the moments sitting across a table from family and friends, being family and friends.  

This Thanksgiving I wish you gratitude and a day that creates wonderful memories.