Thursday, April 3, 2008

Simon "the Rabbit" Rosenthall

Editor's Note: This post was written by my friend Suzanne a few months ago, and since it was about her family's beloved rabbit, I thought I would hold on to it for an appropriate occasion. Today I learned that Suzanne and her husband recently had to put Simon to sleep. This post is in memory of Simon the Rabbit.

Okay, I know the blog is "people and food" and that technically I'm not a person. But it seems like the rest of my family is going to get a blog entry so I think I should get one too. First of all, let me get something off of my dewlap (look it up!). We hate it when you refer to salads and greens as "rabbit food" in that tone you take on - you know the one I mean. As if there were something wrong with rabbit food. I can tell you first-paw that it is quite yummy. I get very excited for each of my three salads a day. As a matter of fact, when I was younger and more agile I frequently had to remind my people that it was time for my evening salad. I would subtly bring their attention to the fact that they had missed my usual and preferred feeding time by positioning myself under the dining room table by the entry to the kitchen and the foody-fater (at least that is what the boy Adam calls it).

Just like humans, rabbits all have different palates and prefer different foods. I'm especially fond of carrot tops (even better than the carrot), dandelion greens, kale, and collard greens. I also like a variety of lettuces from simple romaine to frisee to chicory to endive. Radish tops are great but beet tops - no thank you. Fruit is a really special treat - I run in circles for bananas and apples. I also like grapes and strawberries. When I was a baby and had just been adopted by my humans I was exploring the house and sniffed out a bit of pear in the garbage bag. I made a mental note of that pear and it's location and when no one was watching a while later I went back for it. I had to dig a hole in the garbage bag, but it was worth it. Yummy!

Speaking of garbage bags, another thing I love to eat is paper. My favorite paper (non-glossy) was the paper they used to print that list of doctors covered by my humans' medical plan back in Boston. The best glossy paper has got to be People magazine. My predecessor, the late, great, and sorely missed Rubin Speyer (also a rabbit) was particularly fond of very fancy paper. One time he jumped onto a bed to get to a night table that led to a desk where a diploma lay and made a nice snack of it. That is a lot of work for a piece of paper.

In addition to my fresh veggies, I get rabbit pellets made of timothy hay every day and of course I can eat all of the fresh hay (timothy, orchard grass, oat hay) I want. I've lost weight recently so my humans have been letting me eat a lot of alfalfa hay as well. It is not a grass hay like the others but at this point in my life they think I deserve to indulge a bit. Fresh wheat grass is really good, too - it isn't just for cats!

Sometimes the boy, Adam, will give me a special papaya tablet as a treat. And lately I've been getting something called Critical Care mixed with banana twice a day. I'm not sure, but I think my humans might be hiding medication in it. I always mean to check but I get so excited when I smell it that I gobble it up really quickly.

I love my food but most of all I love the love with which my humans feed me!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jacquelyn Evans Jamar

I can't read The Gingerbread Boy to my grandchildren without picturing Christmas of 1967. My husband would soon be home from Viet Nam, my grandparents were with us, and the family would soon be rid of me. What better way to celebrate than to make gingerbread boys. Tripling the recipe would be the order of the day and then the order of the night. We all began to hope they would jump out and run away. The line I remember was my Grandfather saying late into the night: "It looks like I'll have to help Ethel." That was the only time he ever helped in anyone's kitchen - at least as far as I know.

Another story is that my grandmother baked every minute of every day (or so I thought) when I was a child. When I had my own kitchen I called for her spice cake recipe. I decided not to tackle it after asking about how much milk to use. When she asked, "How much milk have you got?" - it squelched the effort.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Zelma Blachman Goodman Rivin

Food story #1:

Traveling in Yugoslavia and hungry for dinner- a narrow road in the country- we see a farmhouse with a food sign- EUREKA! We are delighted to find a really ethnic place- but no English is spoken there and the menu is in a foreign language. No way to communicate. Finally, after many frustrating exchanges, I raise my hands to my chest and flap my elbows up and down- cackling all the while. Great grin from the famer's wife! And we were served chicken.

Food story #2:

A charming restaurant in Portugal. Excellent food. Waiter speaks broken English. Entree is excellent- we ask about dessert. He recommends "Flan Sinotre" which sounds to us like Frank Sinatra. So in a voice loud enough to engage the other diners, I laughingly exclaim "I'll have Frank Sinatra" which provoked wonderful merriment throughout the cafe. And incidentally, another American tourist joined our table for the fun. He has remained a friend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kurt Phillip Caminer

World War II, Wales, British Islands, Food shortage, Rationing

I am a Jewish refugee from Germany, eighteen years old, working on a farm in Wales, since this is the only work I am allowed to do. Recently released from an internment camp as an enemy alien, just as the Japanese were dealt with here.

Farm work entails getting up at about 4:30 a.m., milking the cows (no machines yet) mucking out stalls etc., feeding the livestock, other necessary labor, 4:oo p.m. milking cows again. Day in, day out. Seven days a week. Pay: about 5 shillings a week. Just enough for maybe 1 movie and a serving of fish and chips on the rare day off.

One would think that working on a farm, one would have food galore and would not be affected by rationing. However the Welsh lifestyle is just not conducive to this. Most farmers in Wales live on potatoes, fatback and if available some cabbage or turnips from the garden. Bread is home baked and sometimes available at more than two slices.

Food is plentiful and delicious when the neighbors come by to help during thrashing time, once a year. Every farmer's wife competes with each other as to who cooks best and serves the most luscious and nutritious meal. Desserts are served and consumed with vigor, and then back to work.

And the eggs: There are a few chickens in the yard, and their eggs are prized highly since once a week a man comes by and buys them for six shillings a dozen to sell them on the black market.

Now fast forward to what happened in the winter of 1942. Snow has piled up in and on the lane from the farm to the highway and is stopping the farmer from getting his main product, milk, to the road to be picked up by the distributor. For days now, income is lost since there is no way to get our product to the market. We work feverishly shoveling snow from the lane to clear our way to the main road. There is no bulldozer, I suggest that I will work all evening, night and next day, if needed, until we can clear enough to get the horse and buggy through. I suggest that I want an extra shilling or two for my labor and that I would like to have two soft boiled eggs for breakfast in the morning if successful. Eggs for breakfast was unheard of, but under these circumstances it is agreed upon. I work tirelessly until morning, with shaded light, since there is a black-out all over the British Isles. Unbelievably, I manage to get enough snow removed to get the full milk cans to the road. They did not believe that I could possibly be successful by the next morning and was celebrated and praised to high heaven for the endeavor.

But I was never forgiven for having asked for the eggs. It must have been an insult to the farmer's wife. Eggs were a commodity, not food. Our good relationship seemed to be at an end and it was not long before it was time for me to change my place of employment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Janine Marie Serresseque

Uh-Oh, SpaghettiOs. Such an aptly created slogan.

When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to eat was my mom's spaghetti with meat sauce. In retrospect, it wasn't anything gourmet-- just hearty and comforting.

imagine my enthusiasm when I saw a commercial for SpaghettiOs! My favorite food, redefined in a cute circular shape! And you could eat them with a spoon, for heavens sake. They had a little song with the tag line, "Uh-Oh! SpaghettiOs!" I had to have them.

I commenced to beg and beg and beg. Of course my mom knew they were total crap, and repeatedly said NO. I don't remember what made her finally give in, but she probably said something like, "Well if I buy these SpaghettiOs for you, you better eat them and not turn your nose up at them!" or some similar mom-like decree. The day she served them for my lunch, I was filled with a sharp anticipation that I can still remember like it was yesterday.

My mom places the steaming bowl of SpaghettiOs in front of me and I am immediately accosted by their puke-like aroma! I mean, the smell of this food was truly funky and unnatural. I vehemently expressed my disenchantment with the SpaghettiOs, but after all that shameless begging, she was having none of it and insisted that I eat this crap that I'd spent the last two weeks pleading for. It was a big showdown, with lots of tears and protestation. I finally did lose the battle and forced myself to eat the whole bowl, all the time threatening to throw up if I was forced to finish my lunch. That's how repulsed I was.

After finishing the SpaghettiOs, I promptly vomited them up all over the place. So lets see...I won the battle, then I lost the battle, then I guess I kinda won the war.

But, for what it's worth, Mom, you were right!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Theodore Mazur Bonk

In 1980, Luciano Pavarotti performed for the Virginia Opera at a sold-out Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia. I was asked to cater a post-concert fundraiser at the the Chrysler Museum a few blocks away. It was quite an honor, as Pavarotti was in the prime of his career (and a great connoisseur of food). For the people who paid thousands per seat to charity for the concert, we set up two 60-foot long tables- one with an elaborate array of anti-pasta including salamis, vinaigrettes...everything you can think of (we didn’t want it to be ordinary) down the center, with plates scattered all along the way and the other table overflowing with beautiful desserts, displayed similarly. For Pavarotti and his entourage, a total of 12 people, I prepared an elaborate, multi-course meal- including fried baby artichokes, Roman style. In 1980, they didn’t sell baby artichokes in markets like today- we had to get them flown in from a farm in California. The main course was a superb veal dish, there was soup, salad- I pulled out all stops for this menu.

Two short hours before the concert, Pavarotti informed me that he was dieting, and requested only plain broiled fish. I had to scour Tidewater to find fish suitable to serve Luciano Pavarotti! I called a fisherman friend and he had some flounder in his freezer. We rushed to pick up the flounder, defrosted it, and prepared it the way Pavarotti requested.

After the concert, we knew that Pavarotti and his entourage wanted to be fed upon their arrival. He was seated and we carried out his meal of broiled flounder on a big silver tray, and started with the soup course of the meal for the rest of his entourage. They progressed through many courses with appreciative smiles and gestures. Pavarotti, of course, only ate the flounder, prepared plainly - the only flourish on it was a lemon wedge.

After savoring his flounder, Pavarotti walked up to me and thanked me, saying it was a wonderful dinner. Then he pulled me over towards him and kissed me on both cheeks. It was wonderful. I didn’t wash up for days.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Jo Manning

When I was growing up in Astoria, Queens, in the '40s and '50s, I thought everyone ate as well as we did. My dad had a backyard garden where he grew figs, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and basil -- his older brother, who lived in an apartment building, rented a space where he also grew veggies, fruit, and herbs. Their mother -- my paternal grandmother -- was a fabulous cook. (My mother learned to cook from her and we have her treasured tomato sauce recipe, which I handed down to my children.)

My father always said, "We may not be rich, but we eat a lot better than most rich people." He might have been right :-)

Anyway, the food we ate and loved -- fresh tuna, wheat berries, broccoli rabe, artichokes, cardoons (my father and uncle used to pick them outside of Poughkeepsie, where they went to hunt rabbits and squirrels), ricotta, mozzarella, and all manner of what Anglos called offal, these enriched our food palate. I still remember eating fresh ricotta on fresh Italian bread (my mother scoffed at what she called the soft, white, packaged stuff favored by Anglos "American bread") and breaded, fried cardoons fresh from the pan.

The French have their madeleines to remind them of times past (I bake a killer madeleine, by the way, following Julia Child's recipe), I have cardoons, fresh ricotta, and sauteed squash blossoms... It gives me a kick to see Anglos -- foodies and food critics -- "discovering" these delicious foods of my Sicilian childhood.

Jo Manning,, author of -- among other novels and non-fiction -- The Sicilian Amulet, which is a paranormal romance with a lot of food talk, too.

P.S. My cousin's cousin, Renee Restivo, has two web sites, and, that you all might want to visit -- she also conducts tours of Sicily during the olive harvest.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jonathan Ari Steinberg

Everybody has their vices. Women, wine, gambling. For my entire 36 years, I've been a slave to the green stuff. No, not money. Lemon-lime Gatorade.

When I was born with a milk allergy, our doctor in Miami suggested my parents feed me a new sports drink on the market, a sweet substance loaded with carbohydrates and sodium. Invented in 1965 by Dr. Robert Cade at the University of Florida for the school's football team, Gatorade quickly became the gold standard of sports drinks, which it remains to this day. The Gatorade brand is one of the most recognized in the world, and has even spawned the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, which studies the way athletes' bodies react to hydration. As for me, I became addicted early on. In my 13,000-plus days on this earth, I'd guess there are probably less than 50 of them in which I haven't had at least a sip. When I was a kid, I would get sick every summer at camp if I would go more than a few days without it. I'm convinced my body requires it for normal function. As I became involved in youth athletics, I drank more and more, and somehow never lost the taste for it. I'm convinced it even subliminally drove me into a career in the sports business. And the love affair continues into my mid-life. I often consume an entire small bottle with my lunch, and enjoy a tall, cold glass every night with dinner. In short, my comfort food is a comfort drink. I can't imagine life without it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marilyn Ethel Moore Moon

When I was in junior high school, my family lived on Merchantile Street in McKeesport, outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One Friday night, my friend Myrna slept at my house. The next morning, my parents, Ethel and Bill, made us breakfast. My mother made six dippy eggs- one for each of us and I guess two for my father. My father made bacon and toast. When we were ready to eat, my mother passed the platter with six eggs to Myrna, who exclaimed, "Oh My Goodness! I can't possibly eat all of these!"

But she did. Nobody said a word. We were so startled, none of us knew what to say.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Arthur Zanville Steinberg

As anyone who has been around for a few years, I have so many great food memories that I’ll just have to choose among hundreds to share with you now. I hope to supply you with many more as time goes by.

Among my earliest of such memories is one that my maternal grand-mother used to prepare. She lived in our family home in Baltimore and, on occasion, would take over kitchen duties from my mom.

She made a casserole of mashed potatoes mixed with freshly cooked spinach, then baked in a 350 degree oven until the top was crusty, that was out of this world. I used to fight for some of the crust. It was simple to make and delicious.

Many years later, as students in Cincinnati, your “uncle” Arthur B. and I used to treat ourselves to an occasional dinner at two special restaurants. One was an Italian place called Scotti’s where we sat and dined with the owner and her personally prepared viands. I loved her pasta with both meatballs and meat ravioli. The other, La Maisonette, where our favorite waitress, Marge, would advise us of the best menu items of the day. Their rare steaks and bottles of Lafite Rothschild were truly memorable.

Another, from the much more recent past, is the bourbon turkey breast that your Kitty-Mom has been making every Thanksgiving. You’ll have to ask her for the specific recipe but, please do, because it is outstanding.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mim Golub Scalin

We just returned from a trip to NYC & NJ where we ate pizza for dinner 3 out of 4 nights we were there. (Arturo's, La Bottega, Krispy's) The pizza was so good! This reminded me of the first time I ever ate pizza. I must have been about 9 years old. My older sister was babysitting for us younger sibs that night and had a friend over. They ordered pizza and closed themselves into the kitchen with it. I knocked on the door. It cracked open a bit and my sister thrust something out at me and said, leave us alone. It was a hot, greasy triangle that smelled good but didn't look appetizing to me. I peeled off the top layer (cheese) and looked at the bumpy dough underneath and decided this was not something I wanted to eat. I went into the bathroom and broke it up into little pieces and flushed it down the toilet. (Pizza was a new thing, back then.) Hope you enjoy my memory,
m i m
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jill Bari Steinberg

There are so many great food stories in my memory. My family was lucky enough to have many, many meals together while I was growing up. And while I have fond family memories and recipes, I have also been lucky to learn different recipes from other close families. It is no secret to anyone who knows me that, fortunately or UN, I have had my share of boyfriends. Some say I like variety - like a good tapas plate that has a little of everything. Due to this I have learned some great recipes from the mothers of my boyfriends. Recipes that I would never have normally come across. You can say it was an added bonus. If love don't last forever, well, the recipes will and have. It is hard to pick a favorite but I will say one of the top recipes I was ever taught and still make to this day is Mrs. Organ's Cream Chipped Beef. This recipe fascinated and thrilled me. Yes, you heard me right. You see, Jews don't eat meat out of can unless, I suppose, they are trapped in a bunker, lost somewhere. Needless to say, I had never seen or heard of this delicacy but Steve kept talking about his mother's creamed chip beef like it was heaven drizzled on a biscuit. I try to be adventurous when it comes to food - at least tasting it if not loving it. My parents taught us to try everything once. I just wish I had realized then that they were talking about food. Anyway, Steve's parents live in an idyllic log cabin home on the side of a mountain just minutes from West Virginia. Visiting there was always a treat but -- on special occasions --it got even better. I was not sure what to expect when I sat down for breakfast with the whole family - the smell of the biscuits and the chipped beef were almost too much for me to handle. It smelled that good and tasted even better. It was creamy and salty and the biscuits were crunchy. I think I ate two full plates and fell into a food coma. So the next time I made sure to watch the whole process so I could learn how this magical recipe was made. She was kind enough to share this family recipe with me and gave me many helpful hints. Some of the things also apply to other recipes I have tried since then. For instance, the creamed chipped beef starts with a simple roux. I had never done that before and since then it has been in so many recipes I can't count them all. I am grateful to have had that opportunity to learn a recipe that I never would have learned. So, variety may be the spice of life, but it was also my ticket to the best creamed chipped beef anywhere.