As we begin the new year, I thought I'd look back and write about food memories that involve some members of my family.
My Mom was a great cook, but I didn’t appreciate how good she was. One night, when I was around twenty years old, she and my Dad went out to dinner in a restaurant. When she came home, she told me she was going to recreate a dish she had that night. It was veal with mushrooms in a red wine sauce. I thought it was the best thing I ever ate. The sauce was thick and aromatic with a yummy flavor. I told her how much I liked it and from then on, she used to make it for me often. And every time I ate it, it felt like an expression of love. The only thing my Dad knew how to cook were soft-boiled eggs, but they were perfect and exactly the way I liked them - somewhere between soft and hard. It became my breakfast of choice on the weekends. After he died, in 1985, every time I boiled an egg, I would think of him. Unfortunately, the eggs I made were never as good as the ones I remembered. I hadn’t asked him what his secret was. Recently, I Googled “perfect soft-boiled eggs.” I finally learned to make them the way Dad did. Boil water in a pot, lower the flame to a low simmer and carefully lower in an egg. Allow to simmer exactly 8 minutes and you end up with Dad’s jammy soft-boiled egg. My brother Ely, his wife Elaine, and their baby daughter Deanna were living out on Long Island when I was a graduate student. I often found myself on the weekends on a two-hour commute to their home in East Northport, to visit and babysit with my niece. I never minded. It wasn’t just that she was so adorable and sweet, it was also that Elaine, knowing that I liked it, used to make Spanish chicken and rice whenever I was there. As I remember it, it was a zesty, bold dish, redolent with paprika, chili powder, and coriander. The chicken thighs and legs were nice and juicy. "Perfection," I thought every time I took a bite.
Wishing a dazzlingly delicious, healthy, and happy new year to all our readers.