An interview meme is making its way around the food blogs, but in this one you don’t get tagged, you ask to be interviewed by someone who has already gone through the process. So I’ve brought this on myself, but I thought it would be fun. After you read my responses, you’ll have an opportunity to be interviewed by me, if you wish.
My questions come from The Passionate Cook herself, Johanna, who gave a great interview last week. She asked me some very good questions! I think it would have even been more fun if we could have done this in real life over coffee or tea, but we’ll have to settle for some virtual tea.
1. You’re a wandering soul, it seems: which destination has influenced your cooking the most? What are you missing the most?
It’s a toss-up. I was born in the southwestern tip of Virginia but grew up in the Midwest, so I have Southern cooking roots blended with a heart-of-the-US style. As an adult, I worked overseas for eight years and had many opportunities to enjoy foods from Asia and the Pacific Rim, South America, the Middle East, and Europe. I spent four years in Saipan, so the Asian/island influence is strong, but so is the Hispanic influence from Colombia. I try to incorporate a variety of Asian and Hispanic foods in my cooking, though I don’t think I have a fusion cooking style as I tend to enjoy each on its own.
There are things about each place that I miss. From Saipan, I miss the island barbecues, the subs from Mike’s Restuarant in Garapan, Diamond Chinese, China House, and the Sunday buffet at Pacific Islands Club. From Colombia, I miss the big pots of Ajiaco Bogotano, the best grilled meat I’ve ever had at Andres Carne de Res in Chia, and the little arepa restaurant near my apartment in Bogotá. From Saudi Arabia, I miss the excellent shawarmas and flat breads.
2. Having three kids myself, I know what strain family life can put on one’s kitchen. Are you an always-share-a-meal kind of family or do you end up cooking various meals a day?
I have to laugh because not too long ago my two preschool-age children were both good eaters and would try anything. Then somewhere between two and three years old, both of them went into a picky phase where even the foods that they loved were now despised. My oldest is finally outgrowing that phase, but our three-year-old is still pretty picky. I have observed through trial and error that they are more likely to eat something that they helped prepare, which I try to use to my advantage!
As a general rule, we serve the boys whatever we have cooked, and we encourage them to try at least a taste of everything. Some days that works really well, other days we have to fall back on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
And in spite of what people may think after seeing some of my posts, we don’t sit around eating lush desserts every day! Most of my daily meal preparation is light and healthy. Because the boys and work keep me hopping, I try to prepare three meals a week and then have leftovers the other nights. We save big cooking projects (the fun stuff) for the weekends.
3. With your background in education, do you think good eating and the love of food can be taught? Should it be? And how?
The love of food is taught every minute of every day. From the time we are babies our tastes are shaped by our environment. The region and culture in which we grow up has a primary roll in defining what we think is good food, which is why some people grow up thinking that sea cucumbers are a delicacy and other people don’t even know what one is or how to prepare it.
I believe the best way to shape diet is at home through example, and that’s why we talk about food with our children and why I have my boys help with cooking at such a young age.
4. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
I would like to see my parents and grandparents as teens and young adults, B.C. (before children), because it would allow me to see a side of them that I never knew.
5. If you were confined to a desert island, which three books would you take along and why?
Assuming the island does not have a well-equipped kitchen, thus rendering my favorite cookbooks useless, I would take the following books:
- My hard cover copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that Michael gave me for Christmas a few years ago, because it’s been my favorite story ever since I first read it at 12 years old;
- Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Every Day Life by Judith Lasater, because I understand more about myself every time I read it; and
- Some kind of desert island survival guide. 🙂
And now in keeping with the meme, it’s your turn! If you would like to be interviewed and post your responses on your blog, please leave a comment on this post in which you say, “Interview me!” I’ll come up with five questions for you and email them to you within a few days.