Monday, January 29, 2007

Here I Go ...

This is my foray into a diary of sorts ... a diary about my passion for food, which I believe to be the last bastion of legalized hedonistic pleasure (in this life, anyway). Then again I heard that it is illegal to bring certain food items back to the states from Italy so I suppose even legalities could interfere with my quest. But I digress. Some of "my people" know that one goal I have in life is to eradicate the use of that green can some call Parmesan by convincing the world one person at a time to experience Parmiggano Reggiano (ie REAL Parmesan) instead. Really, just the smell should do it, never mind the beautiful flavor and texture ... particularly with a freshly cut chunk you grate yourself. One teaspoon of the good stuff has more flavor and aroma than a quart of the stuff in the green can (I promise!).

And that's just the beginning. I can't help myself and I'm not even sure when this happened to me but I do know there's no going back. I guess it was when I started taking cooking classes at a wonderful little cooking school that no longer exists, called "La Panier" here in Houston about 11 years ago. I really didn't know how to cook (I didn't even know about the Parmesan!) but I quickly caught on that the quality of the ingredients, use of fresh herbs, etc. seemed to have a big effect on things. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more and so I took more and more classes, subscribed to more and more magazines/publications and started reading recipe books at night in bed the way some people read romance novels.

I was also fortunate enough to produce a food and wine radio show for a couple of years where I learned a great deal. I will detail my current feelings about classes, books, magazines, resources, etc., as we go forward along with my thoughts on all things related to chocolate, bacon and beyond.

While I do love to dine out, I love nothing more than cooking for people at home and enjoying the most wonderful vibe in the world as people gather to take pleasure in great food and lively conversation. So, we must probe into what I believe are the best recipes/things to serve at these types of gatherings, too.

I'm happy to say that more people are becoming interested/concerned with food and cooking because of the Food Network, which I think is great. (I have plenty of opinions on these shows both positive and negative, of course.) Also, obviously the simple availability of things we didn't grow up with (anybody have goat cheese as a kid in the 70's?) has "raised the bar" along with travel and various trends and innovations in the world of food and cooking. I love that there are other people out there who want to share and exchange thoughts/ideas. I especially love going to "foodie destinations" when I travel and I wonder if people who come to Houston might want to experience some of these things here. I believe we are a terribly under-rated city when it comes to all things culinary (John Mariani of Esquire Magazine agrees!). Again, this is something we can delve into here.

I am not a gourmet snob, I love a great neighborhood burger anywhere as much as dinner at the famed Charlie Trotters in Chicago (though every foodie should enjoy this experience once in their lifetime – I did cry tears of joy at the table). Speaking of Chicago, the best popcorn I've ever had can be found at Garrett's Popcorn where a one-hour wait in line isn't uncommon. (Yes, I've done it a number of times and whoever I'm with always thinks I'm nuts UNTIL they try the popcorn.) They ship so be careful of trying it, next thing you know you'll be justifying overnight shipping costs to get your fix!

For anyone who might be picturing me as a 300-lb whale-shaped woman, rest assured this is not the case. I'm heading to the gym momentarily to maintain my size two status. I believe if you eat the best of just about everything it becomes more about quality than quantity. And though I love chocolate in a way I will work hard to describe ... I am not tempted by a Hershey bar ... get the point? Same with all desserts actually ... I love them but if it isn't really fabulous then I'm good with the one bite. So this is me and my place to rave (and rant) about all things foodie (defined on as "a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking"). Okay then, this is definitely me!

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