“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.."
Harriet Van Horne
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Pot Walloper to Executive Chef
Author: J H McIntosh
Long before Chef Steve Marcus invited me to join the Escoffier Club, my interest in food preparation and my deep love for the culinary arts was nurtured standing at my mother’s knees.
In fact, one of my five sisters once commented that I spent more time in the kitchen with my mom they my five sisters, combined. I’m not sure that’s true but I did have a very close bond with my mother possibly because she was clearly the most nurturing of my parents.
Time with my mother is only one of the countless happy memories of my childhood. This is true in spite of the fact that most observers might have trouble seeing the joy in childhood days not sparing of the rod and frequently ending with empty stomachs.
Alice Fisher McIntosh
Among my earliest memories of those days take me back to the age of five. By Friday night of any typical week our expectation of something to eat fared about as well as the poor dog who disappointedly gazed up to Mrs. Hubbard and her bare cupboards.
Every Saturday my mother had no choice but to leave the seven of us in my oldest sister Eva’s care. Eva is three years my senior.
To keep our minds off empty stomachs during those long Saturdays waiting for our traditional beans and franks supper, Eva came up with a “song”. As Saturday’s sun began to sail out of sight, Eva would gather us together. We would all rock back and forth as we sang (like a mantra): “Mamma, home, fire, beanie, candy, bed”. When mother returned home, she would light the fire, feed us beans and franks, give us a piece of penny candy and tuck us into bed.
Regardless of how many filets mignon one may consume as a prosperous adult (I’ve had my fair share), there are some things that just never leave you. My attachment to food goes far, far deeper than my genuinely real appreciation for the artistic outlet the culinary arts are for many and have been for me.
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Eating at home is my preference because when someone takes the time to prepare and share a meal with me it touches me on a level that, to my way of thinking all the riches of the world would be positioned far from the shadow of that appreciation.
And just think of the miracles of the modern world. We enjoy fresh strawberries almost anytime. And thanks to the research done for Birdseye Foods by the think tank Arthur D Little, frozen fruits and vegetables are more than pretty good.
Special thanks to the Chicago tribune for the wonderful sketch of Clarence Birdseye.
When we sit down with family, friends or associates we know the riches of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet could not serve a meal that would elevate our enjoyment greater than that which we are experiencing at that very moment. That’s just wonderful.
It doesn’t have to be Tenderloin of Beef Wellington served at Gordon Ramsay’s Chelsea Restaurant in London. Nor does it take Alice Walker’s succulent Crab Gumbo to satisfy our gastronomic desires. I remember the day as a pre-teen we were helping our neighbor and landlord Charlie McCrillis bring in the last of the summer hay. It was hard work and Mrs. McCrillis knew what every military general knows. “An army fights on its stomach.”
Mrs. McCrillis often prepared one of my favorite sandwiches, tuna salad. A gourmet treat for kids accustomed to a diet of P & J.
Mrs. McCrillis made tuna with diced celery, a squeeze of lemon and sweet relish, a practice I continue to this day. We would gather under the forgiving shade of the huge oak trees that ringed the pasture and enjoy our lunch break.